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For me the championship proper starts tomorrow at Croke Park. What has gone on before is bordering on a joke. Apart from Kildare defeating Cork in a round three qualifier and Cork almost catching Kerry on the hop in the drawn Munster final the rest has been straightforward and in some cases embarrassing. The first year the quarter-finals were introduced the cumulative winning total of the four games was just 11 points, the first two this year yielded a 35 point winning margin for Kerry and Dublin. I have no doubt Kildare would have taken a respectable few points loss to Cork in that qualifier rather than trying to come to terms with that 27 point humiliation at the hands of Kerry last weekend. Who would ever have thought that Kildare footballers would suffer a 19 point and a 27 point hiding from Dublin and Kerry and in the same season knock Cork out? Football has gone crazy.
With the Galway Races coming to an end this Sunday and the bookies' satchels either bulging, or their owners with long faces, after too many favourites coming home first - it is an opportune time to look ahead to the four big football games this weekend where all the favourites will be expected to jump the fences being put in front of them.
At least the GAA have done something right for us Mayo fans when combining the Junior All-Ireland final with our Senior quarter-final on August 8. It will be a long sitting in Croke Park however, for Mayo fans with the junior game throwing in at 2pm and the senior game expected to throw in at 6pm. It is a great opportunity for the juniors and I am glad they are getting a run out on the hallowed turf. It may be a first and last experience for some of them as players so I am sure they will cherish it.
With just a week to go before Mayo head into the All Ireland quarter-final in Croke Park their opponents are still unknown until this weekend's round of action in the qualifiers is completed on Saturday evening. Speaking ahead of the game, joint Mayo manager Noel Connelly said he hoped that Aidan O'Shea gets "fair play" from officials in the upcoming contest and they do award him frees when he is fouled and not let the infractions slide by just because of his size.
The Galway Races are coming to an end this Sunday, and the bookies' satchels will be bulging, or else they will have long faces after too many favourites came home in first place. So it is an opportune time to look ahead to the four big football games this weekend, where all the favourites will be expected to jump the fences put in front of them.
This Saturday in Croke Park (6pm) the Galway footballers will have to produce one of their best performances in a few seasons to beat the 2012 All-Ireland champions and 2014 All-Ireland finalists Donegal, in their round four qualifier clash.
Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin hopes to remain at the helm in 2016.
This week we look ahead to the four big football games this weekend where all the favourites will be expected to win through.
Fermanagh 1-13 Westmeath 0-7
Shane Walsh, a nominee last season for Young Footballer of the Year, received a warm reception when he was introduced for the last few minutes of the All-Ireland qualifier last Saturday in Salthill.