A Look at the All-Ireland contenders for 2021

Galway v Kerry pictured in a February 2019 round 4 league meeting between the sides. Photo credit: Shane Tighe

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Dublin is coming into the 2021 championship season looking to claim an unprecedented seven-in-a-row after a decade of dominance.

Dessie Farrell took over from Jim Gavin in 2019 and claimed his first All-Ireland title in 2020 against Mayo.

The men from the capital are the clear favourites to claim another Sam Maguire.

Before the start of the upcoming season, we look at each contender to dethrone the Dubs.

Kerry

Manager: Peter Keane

Last All-Ireland: 2014 (37 titles)

Last year’s finish: Munster Semi-Final

Betting odds: 5/2

Key Player: David Clifford. Fossa’s starman has been on a tear of the championship since his debut in 2018. Becoming an influential forward the likes that Cooper would be proud off. During the league campaign this season, Clifford has torn teams apart by himself. With his performance against Galway a standout. If Kerry go further than last years escapades he will be a danger for anyone.

Point of discussion: Can they match Dublin strength for strength? The Kingdom were on the verge of dethroning the Dubs in their first meeting in the 2019 final but came up short in the replay. While its hard to find a squad as talented as Dublins, Peter Keane has blooded youth with experience since his appointment. They might not be able to finish the job this year but this young team will be pushing the Dubs for years to coe.

 

Mayo

Manager: James Horan

Last All-Ireland: 1951 (3 titles)

Last year’s finish: All-Ireland finalists

Betting odds: 12/1

Key Player: Aidan O’Shea. The Breaffy man is coming back from a knee injury sustained in training months ago. Making his first appearance in a league win against Meath in May. The three time All-Star will be looking to fire Mayo towards glory after being named captain after last years losing effort to Dublin. He can be deployed in midfield or in full-forward to cause damage, and with Cillian O’Connor out injured. They might call upon his services to notch up the scores.

Point of discussion: Will Cillian O’Connors recent injury hamper their quest for Sam? The 29 year old Ballintubber forwards fitness is the worst possible injury for Mayo. He will be sorely missed through Connacht and if they were to retain their provincial title, they would go up against the Dubs in the All-Ireland semi-final. When Mayo have faced Dublin with O’Connor leading the line they have come up short, without him will be almost impossible for the Westerners.

 

Donegal

Manager: Declan Bonner

Last All-Ireland: 2012 (2 titles)

Last year’s finish: Ulster finalists

Betting odds: 16/1

Key Player: Michael Murphy. The last captain to lift Sam for Donegal is one of the most influential players in gaelic football history. Often carrying an inexperienced Donegal side to no end. The Glenswilly man is coming back from an hamstring injury in May on league duties. He may not be fully fit but without his presence, Donegal are not the same team.

Point of discussion: Can they get past Ulster? The Ulster giants have been out of sorts in the past few years since Jim McGuinness left in 2014. Not appearing in an All-Ireland semi-final since his departure. A success other than reedeming their Ulster final loss in 2020 will be a major objective going forward.

 

Tyrone

Managers: Feargal Lohan and Brian Dooher

Last All-Ireland: 2008 (3 titles)

Last year’s finish: Ulster Quarter-Finals

Betting odds: 18/1

Key Player: Mattie Donnelly. Since Seán Cavanagh’s retirement in 2017, Donnelly was given captaincy duties and has been his sides best midfielder by a long distance. Without him, not much emphasis will be put on this Tyrone side as major contenders. The two time All-Star will need a massive season if Tyrone are to pose a serious question.

Point of discussion: Can they return to former glory? Under Mickey Harte, Tyrone were Kerry’s bogey team, and were a major contender season in, season out until they fell off at the start of the new decade. After Kerry’s hammering in the league, many pundits have asked rather or not they have the minerals to even put up a showing in Ulster. It remains to be seen rather or not they can prove the doubters wrong.

 

Galway

Manager: Pádraic Joyce

Last All-Ireland: 2001 (9 titles)

Last year’s finish: Connacht finalists

Betting odds: 20/1

Key Player: Shane Walsh. When fully fit, is the focal point of a decent forward line for the Tribesmen. They will need him firing on all cylinders if they can get back to challenging Mayo in Connacht and beyond.

Point of discussion: Can they find form? Galway were a dissappointing outfit in the league. being relegated down to Division 2 alongside their West counterparts Roscommon, they will try to find their feet once again and get into the position to conquer rivals Mayo.

 

Monaghan

Manager: Seamus McEnaney

Last All-Ireland: No All-Ireland totles

Last year’s finish: Preliminary Round

Betting odds: 66/1

Key Player: Conor McManus. The man who was influential in Monaghans two Ulster title wins in 2013 and 2015 remains his counties main scoring threat. Being seen as the proponent in the Monaghan panel for years, given the chance he will keep Monaghans Ulster hopes alive.

Point of discussion: Can they live up to their title of dark horses? One of the favourites for Ulster glory every season, Monaghan have failed to bring home the Anglo-Celt Cup in half a decade, but are always favoured more than the likes of rivals Donegal and Tyrone. With the emergence of Cavan, they will have to fight off high expectations in order to bring home success.

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