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Marc Ó Sé previews Division 1 games this weekend

| 19.02.2022

Three-time All Star Marc Ó Sé takes a look at all four Division One games taking place this weekend and gives us his thoughts on who will come out on top, starting with the clash between Armagh and Monaghan.

Armagh v Monaghan – Saturday, 17.30

Monaghan were very good when winning the McKenna Cup, but they were turned over by Mayo last weekend and they would have been disappointed with that, especially with Mayo coming back in the manner they did. Monaghan missed a lot of chances, shooting 10 wides in total and only scoring one point in the last 25 minutes. They won’t be happy with that and they need to improve significantly on that performance.

On the other side of it, Armagh had a 95% conversion rate of chances which is similar to the level Dublin were at during their height. Kieran McGeeney is really getting the most out of Armagh. It all seems to be happening for Armagh at the moment and I’d give them the nod here.

Dublin v Mayo – Saturday, 19.30

This is going to be the tie of the weekend. When have we seen the Dubs pointless after two games and with Mayo heading to the capital I don’t think it’s going to get better unless we see some of the big Dublin stars coming back soon.

Mayo have their absentees as well with Eoghan McLaughlin on the sidelines and Tommy Conroy out of action for the foreseeable future, but they’ve had a few weeks now to digest that injury. They will take huge confidence from last weekend’s win against Monaghan when they were on the road and I don’t think they’ll fear Dublin. Mayo seem to be more settled at this early stage than the Dubs are as well.

The big question here is will Dublin have more stars back? If they do, I think it could go right down to the wire but with Ryan O’Donoghue in the form he’s in and the way Mayo played last weekend, they’re going really well and I’d just give Mayo the nod here.

A lot depends on which players come back for Dublin, as we know they tend to pick bogey teams – what you see on the programme is not what you see on the field! But on what I’ve seen to date, it’s Mayo for me.

Kerry v Donegal – Sunday, 13.45

This weekend has plenty of competitive games and this is another I feel will go right down to the wire. Diarmuid O’Connor was like a breath of fresh air for Kerry against Dublin, and they badly needed him back.

It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens with David Clifford. He played in the Sigerson Cup final for UL on Wednesday and it’ll be interesting to see what Jack O’Connor does with him. Judging on what has happened in Mayo and the fact that player welfare is a huge issue at the moment, I find it hard to see O’Connor starting with Clifford on Sunday. That said, I think he’ll still have a role to play.

If the game is in the balance, I think you could see Clifford coming on, and he could be just the man to sway the game in Kerry’s favour.

You also have to add in the fact that Donegal’s Michael Murphy got an injury last weekend that looked fairly serious and it seems like he could be out for a few weeks. With those factors in mind, and the fact that it’s a home venue, I slightly favour Kerry here.

Tyrone v Kildare – Sunday, 15.45

This is a game that fascinates me for a number of reasons. Tyrone had four players sent off against Armagh last weekend which has been a huge talking point. Whether it was right or wrong, it seems the GAA are coming down very heavily on off-the-ball clashes and Tyrone paid the price.

Kieran McGeary, Padraig Hampsey, Michael McKernan and Peter Harte are all suspended. With those four guys missing, all very experienced and four starters, it’s a huge loss for Tyrone who at this stage – especially in home games – need to get points on the board.

Kildare will be disappointed with how things went last weekend. When the game was in the balance against Donegal they didn’t really stand up. I think Glen Ryan will need a reaction from that.

But at the end of the day, Tyrone are All Ireland Champions and they’re champions because they have a strong panel of players. That’s never going to be more important than on Sunday and I think it’s another game this weekend that will be very tight.

If Kildare can push on and get the ball into that full forward where we know Hyland and Flynn can cause real trouble, I think there could be a shock on the cards. I wouldn’t rule out a draw but ultimately, I’d still fancy Tyrone.

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Warren Barner