All three of this weekend’s matches, on their face, seem like they ought to be pretty routine for the stronger sides – but if the Championship was won on paper, it’d be over long ago…
Dublin (1st, 1968) v. Longford (23rd, 1056)
The top dogs of the province – and in our view, the country – get the ball rolling in front of a packed house at Headquarters against the surprise package from Division 4. That is, sadly, about as much as we can say. Elo gives Dublin a 99.0% chance of winning and it would be the shock to end all shocks if Longford rumbled the Leinster champions in Croker. Mind you, Longford beat Derry in the back door last year in a similarly-sized shock – and won’t be fazed by a big scoreline, after their comeback against Offaly. Winners play Laois or Kildare.
Fermanagh (18th, 1184) v. Antrim (27th, 917)
Antrim suffer the slight ignominy of being the weakest county in a province full of meaty muscular footballers and aren’t given much of a shout to get over this game. Fermanagh pushed Armagh all the way to the Division 3 final and will think their spring should put them in far better stead. They get the nod by 84.4% to progress to a semi-final against Monaghan.
Tipperary (17th, 1241) v. Waterford (31st, 655)
Waterford are in a similar place to Fermanagh – there are a couple of big dogs in the region and Waterford simply don’t have any hope of rivalling them. Tipperary are a side on the up – and have been ever since John Evans was working his magic there – and Peter Creedon’s charges should be safe with a 95.9% expectation of success. The winners get to play Kerry. Joy of joys.