Mickey Graham has steered Cavan to a first Ulster title since 1997.
Mickey Graham has steered Cavan to a first Ulster title since 1997.

Preview: Weekend's All Ireland SFC semi-finals


Saturday December 5

All Ireland SFC Semi-Final

Dublin v Cavan, Croke Park, 5.30pm

On an emotional evening at the Athletic Grounds, Cavan completed a dramatic Ulster Championship with a daring win over favourites Donegal.

Monaghan, Antrim, Down, and Donegal were all defeated by Cavan, who launched a couple of incredible comebacks before earning a much coveted Anglo-Celt Cup.

The prize for Mickey Graham's gritty team is a trip to Croke Park for an evening spent in the company of the five in a row All Ireland champions.

Dublin, now under the stewardship of Dessie Farrell, motored through Leinster with trademark authority.

Ciaran Kilkenny kicked scores and created chances, Brian Fenton was typically immense, and Meath suffered a provincial final drubbing.

Dublin's Michael Fitzsimons.
Dublin's Michael Fitzsimons.

That match showcased Dublin's enterprise and efficiency so Cavan will be completely aware about the considerable threat posed by the standard bearers.

There has been so much to admire about the manner in which Cavan have reached the penultimate stage of the Championship.

Raymond Galligan's remarkable free against Monaghan; Thomas Galligan's bravely; Gearoid McKieran's craft; Martin Reilly's longevity.

These factors combined ensure Cavan will travel to GAA headquarters with some hope in their heart.

Since 1997 Cavan waited and wondered what it would feel like to secure silverware up north. One itch has been scratched, but Dublin still represent the most demanding task of the lot.

It promises to be another exicting All Ireland SFC semi-final for Mayo football.
It promises to be another exicting All Ireland SFC semi-final for Mayo football.

Sunday December 6

All Ireland SFC Semi-Final

Mayo v Tipperary, Croke Park, 3.30pm

Tipperary's flair for the dramatic in the 2020 Munster campaign was ultimately rewarded down by the banks of the Lee.

Out west Mayo chalked up the miles mining encouraging road wins over Leitrim, Roscommon, and Galway.

That western tour served Mayo well and the fact that so many players continue to emerge in James Horan's panel adds another source of optimism.

David Power's passionate and purporseful approach earned Tipperary a first Munster title in 85 years.

Colin O'Riordan's influence, Michael Quinlivan's skill, and Conor Sweeney's style all carried such weight against Cork.

Tipperary forward Micahel Quinlivan.
Tipperary forward Micahel Quinlivan.

Having dumped Kerry out of the reckoning, Cork were left reflecting on what might have been following a splendid Tipperary display on the weekend of the 100 year anniversay of Bloody Sunday.

Tipperary did precisely what was required following the gorgeous interventions made by Conor Sweeney and Brian Fox in a mini epic success over Limerick at the LIT Gaelic Grounds.

Mayo took care of their own business in a quietly effective way with Cillian O'Connor prominent in the successes over Leitrim and Roscommon.

The Connacht final was far from a classic, but Mayo survived a late Galway rally in Salthill. A first provincial crown since 2015, but more importantly a place in the last four in the race for Sam Maguire.

This is familiar territory for Mayo, but the development of Oisin Mullin, Eoghan McLaughlin, and Tommy Conroy, amongst others, bodes well.

TIPPERARY: Evan Comerford; Alan Campbell, Jimmy Feehan, Colm O'Shaughnessy; Bill Maher, Kevin Fahey, Robbie Kiely; Steven O'Brien, Liam Casey; Colin O'Riordan, Michael Quinlivan, Conal Kennedy; Brian Fox, Conor Sweeney, Colman Kennedy.