Kerry v Tipperary
Kerry should have too much for Tipperary after recovering well from a difficult start to 2012. Eamon Fitzmaurice’s side come in off the back of an impressive late run of league form, and they still have the likes of Colm Cooper, Kieran Donaghy and the O’Sullivans up front. Tipperary have some excellent young players coming through but they may have to wait a few years until members of their successful minor teams are able to challenge at senior level.
Laois v Louth
Justin McNulty’s Laois side are big, strong, mobile and tough to break down. The welcome return of Donie Kingston to the panel adds a potency up front that was badly missed last year. Louth have improved under Aidan O’Rourke with the return of Brian White and John O’Brien from Australia a big factor. It will likely be tight between these Division 2 rivals but home advantage can swing it Laois’ way.
Wicklow v Longford
Wicklow and Longford have both suffered the disappointment of relegation this season but neither have had luck in terms of injuries. Wicklow’s talisman Leighton Glynn misses the game but they do hope to have Seanie Furlong back at full forward. Longford are a better team than their recent league form suggests and in the classy Michael Quinn, they possess a top-class operator in the half-back line. Ultimately they should have enough about them to escape from ‘Fortress’ Aughrim with a victory.
Donegal v Tyrone
The most anticipated game of the weekend sees last year’s All-Ireland Champions entertain the National League runners up in Ballybofey. Jim McGuinness’ side will be boosted by the return of last year’s Football of the Year, Karl Lacey. This Tyrone side has greatly improved of late though, Stephen O’Neill is playing his best football in years while youngsters Conor Clarke and Mattie Donnelly are asserting themselves as players of real force. Expect a tight game but home advantage can swing it in favour of Donegal.