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Ulster Championship 2021

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It promises to be an even more competitive championship than usual this year in Ulster, highlighted by the very close encounters in all of the matches in the league. The knock-out element of it only increases the tension further.

For ourselves, if we can get everyone fit I think we probably have the strongest squad. There are some concerns over how open our defence has been, but if we tighten up we do have a lot of attacking power to hurt any team. Down away will be tricky. It's a tight enough pitch in Newry, and with the way Tally sets up teams it could be a battle.

Tyrone have started to move nicely. Like ourselves they aren't as strong at the back as they once were and there would be concerns at midfield. But there's no doubting their quality in attack if they can settle on the right mix. If McShane comes back into it they will be stronger again.

Cavan have been disappointing in the league but I wouldn't read too much into that. Graham is as wily as they come. I have no doubt that he is priming them for an almighty cut at Tyrone. They are deservedly Ulster champions and will not give up their crown without a fight.

Armagh and Monaghan have shown very encouraging signs in the league. I'm sure both teams will be looking to retain their Div 1 status firstly. But they'll also very much fancy their chances of making an Ulster final from that side of the draw. A very dangerous prospect for whatever team might happen to meet them in a final.

Derry are an interesting case as well. Rory Gallagher seems to have finally gotten the best players in Derry singing off the same hymn sheet. They are in great shape and are very well organized. Conor Glass has a lot more football back in the legs after his stint in the AFL, and in Shay McGuigan they have one of the most in-form forwards in the country. A very tricky match for whoever emerges from the prelim between ourselves and Down.

Down are an enigma. They have plenty of good players but have struggled badly so far this year, a couple of heavy defeats to Mayo and Meath, although they did pip Westmeath at the weekend. That said, I'd always be wary of any Down team in the Championship. They're the type of team that if they get their tails up at all, can suddenly look like beating anyone. That pedigree and arrogance is there, so we'll need to really try to stamp our authority on them early on, and keep the foot down if we get on top.

Fermanagh and Antrim have the potential to be awkward opponents, but I think they're a bit off being able to seriously challenge for a final appearance. Definitely capable of a one-off shock result however.

Lockjaw (Donegal) - Posts: 7441 - 01/06/2021 09:26:46    2347275

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Replying To Lockjaw:  "It promises to be an even more competitive championship than usual this year in Ulster, highlighted by the very close encounters in all of the matches in the league. The knock-out element of it only increases the tension further.

For ourselves, if we can get everyone fit I think we probably have the strongest squad. There are some concerns over how open our defence has been, but if we tighten up we do have a lot of attacking power to hurt any team. Down away will be tricky. It's a tight enough pitch in Newry, and with the way Tally sets up teams it could be a battle.

Tyrone have started to move nicely. Like ourselves they aren't as strong at the back as they once were and there would be concerns at midfield. But there's no doubting their quality in attack if they can settle on the right mix. If McShane comes back into it they will be stronger again.

Cavan have been disappointing in the league but I wouldn't read too much into that. Graham is as wily as they come. I have no doubt that he is priming them for an almighty cut at Tyrone. They are deservedly Ulster champions and will not give up their crown without a fight.

Armagh and Monaghan have shown very encouraging signs in the league. I'm sure both teams will be looking to retain their Div 1 status firstly. But they'll also very much fancy their chances of making an Ulster final from that side of the draw. A very dangerous prospect for whatever team might happen to meet them in a final.

Derry are an interesting case as well. Rory Gallagher seems to have finally gotten the best players in Derry singing off the same hymn sheet. They are in great shape and are very well organized. Conor Glass has a lot more football back in the legs after his stint in the AFL, and in Shay McGuigan they have one of the most in-form forwards in the country. A very tricky match for whoever emerges from the prelim between ourselves and Down.

Down are an enigma. They have plenty of good players but have struggled badly so far this year, a couple of heavy defeats to Mayo and Meath, although they did pip Westmeath at the weekend. That said, I'd always be wary of any Down team in the Championship. They're the type of team that if they get their tails up at all, can suddenly look like beating anyone. That pedigree and arrogance is there, so we'll need to really try to stamp our authority on them early on, and keep the foot down if we get on top.

Fermanagh and Antrim have the potential to be awkward opponents, but I think they're a bit off being able to seriously challenge for a final appearance. Definitely capable of a one-off shock result however."
A .great summing up of the intriguing situation that lies ahead.

gunman (Donegal) - Posts: 771 - 01/06/2021 10:43:30    2347307

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Replying To Lockjaw:  "It promises to be an even more competitive championship than usual this year in Ulster, highlighted by the very close encounters in all of the matches in the league. The knock-out element of it only increases the tension further.

For ourselves, if we can get everyone fit I think we probably have the strongest squad. There are some concerns over how open our defence has been, but if we tighten up we do have a lot of attacking power to hurt any team. Down away will be tricky. It's a tight enough pitch in Newry, and with the way Tally sets up teams it could be a battle.

Tyrone have started to move nicely. Like ourselves they aren't as strong at the back as they once were and there would be concerns at midfield. But there's no doubting their quality in attack if they can settle on the right mix. If McShane comes back into it they will be stronger again.

Cavan have been disappointing in the league but I wouldn't read too much into that. Graham is as wily as they come. I have no doubt that he is priming them for an almighty cut at Tyrone. They are deservedly Ulster champions and will not give up their crown without a fight.

Armagh and Monaghan have shown very encouraging signs in the league. I'm sure both teams will be looking to retain their Div 1 status firstly. But they'll also very much fancy their chances of making an Ulster final from that side of the draw. A very dangerous prospect for whatever team might happen to meet them in a final.

Derry are an interesting case as well. Rory Gallagher seems to have finally gotten the best players in Derry singing off the same hymn sheet. They are in great shape and are very well organized. Conor Glass has a lot more football back in the legs after his stint in the AFL, and in Shay McGuigan they have one of the most in-form forwards in the country. A very tricky match for whoever emerges from the prelim between ourselves and Down.

Down are an enigma. They have plenty of good players but have struggled badly so far this year, a couple of heavy defeats to Mayo and Meath, although they did pip Westmeath at the weekend. That said, I'd always be wary of any Down team in the Championship. They're the type of team that if they get their tails up at all, can suddenly look like beating anyone. That pedigree and arrogance is there, so we'll need to really try to stamp our authority on them early on, and keep the foot down if we get on top.

Fermanagh and Antrim have the potential to be awkward opponents, but I think they're a bit off being able to seriously challenge for a final appearance. Definitely capable of a one-off shock result however."
A .great summing up of the intriguing situation that lies ahead.

gunman (Donegal) - Posts: 771 - 01/06/2021 10:43:30    2347308

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Yes it's going to be interesting, our side of the draw is the toughest no doubt, if we manage to get past Down and Derry we'll likely then be facing a well primed Tyrone team, I think Cavan were a flash in the pan last year, their league form would back that up, I think Tyrone will beat them comfortably, we'll be battered and bruised if we manage to get as far as Tyrone in the semi and the way we have been playing so far wouldn't fill me with confidence. we have great talent and a great squad no doubt but there is something not right about it, could be coming from the management I don't know, but I see shades of Donegal teams of old were we had talented players who could beat anyone one day and implode the next. McGuinness drove that out of them.
Monaghan look good on the other side and I predict a Tyrone Monaghan final, Tyrone to win it.

Tirchonaill1 (Donegal) - Posts: 1797 - 01/06/2021 11:04:34    2347316

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Replying To Tirchonaill1:  "Yes it's going to be interesting, our side of the draw is the toughest no doubt, if we manage to get past Down and Derry we'll likely then be facing a well primed Tyrone team, I think Cavan were a flash in the pan last year, their league form would back that up, I think Tyrone will beat them comfortably, we'll be battered and bruised if we manage to get as far as Tyrone in the semi and the way we have been playing so far wouldn't fill me with confidence. we have great talent and a great squad no doubt but there is something not right about it, could be coming from the management I don't know, but I see shades of Donegal teams of old were we had talented players who could beat anyone one day and implode the next. McGuinness drove that out of them.
Monaghan look good on the other side and I predict a Tyrone Monaghan final, Tyrone to win it."
Cavan's league form last year also backed up even more, the view that they would do nothing in the Championship. This years league is really no gauge and Mickey doesn't seem to have much regard for the league anyway. This is something that is exercising Cavan fans greatly who want us to be competitive whether it's league or Championship but he has his reasons and is trying out some new young players. Last Saturday was actually encouraging. Derry are flying, much fitter and had tanked Fermanagh and Longford. They were the better team and deserved to win but could easily have been caught by Cavan who caused them bother when they put the squeeze on them - outscored them 1-6 to 0-1 at one point in the first half and got it back to a point from 7 down in the second half. We also had no Ciaran Brady, James Smith, Gerry Smith and Thomas the Tank only came on in the second half for his first run out. We will be a different animal against Tyrone who are still finding their feet and trying to change from the old system. In terms of pure talent Donegal are favourites but talent alone hasn't stopped them falling at hurdles they were expected to clear for the last few years - and none more so than Cavan last year. So they have a lot of questions to answer and who knows what harm the defeat last year will have caused - we might only find out the answer to that in an Ulster final when it is again tight with 5 minutes to go.

BreffniGael (Cavan) - Posts: 8 - 01/06/2021 12:41:10    2347359

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Replying To BreffniGael:  "Cavan's league form last year also backed up even more, the view that they would do nothing in the Championship. This years league is really no gauge and Mickey doesn't seem to have much regard for the league anyway. This is something that is exercising Cavan fans greatly who want us to be competitive whether it's league or Championship but he has his reasons and is trying out some new young players. Last Saturday was actually encouraging. Derry are flying, much fitter and had tanked Fermanagh and Longford. They were the better team and deserved to win but could easily have been caught by Cavan who caused them bother when they put the squeeze on them - outscored them 1-6 to 0-1 at one point in the first half and got it back to a point from 7 down in the second half. We also had no Ciaran Brady, James Smith, Gerry Smith and Thomas the Tank only came on in the second half for his first run out. We will be a different animal against Tyrone who are still finding their feet and trying to change from the old system. In terms of pure talent Donegal are favourites but talent alone hasn't stopped them falling at hurdles they were expected to clear for the last few years - and none more so than Cavan last year. So they have a lot of questions to answer and who knows what harm the defeat last year will have caused - we might only find out the answer to that in an Ulster final when it is again tight with 5 minutes to go."
To be honest, I don't think Cavan will lay a finger on Tyrone. Fair play to Cavan last year and they deserved to beat Donegal in the final but I think it was a 1 in 100 shot imho. Personally, I think Cavan are a division 3 team, possibly a division 2 team at best and last season was a sign of the times with both Tipp and Cavan getting to AI semi finals, both of whom are battling it out for Division 3 survival.

MurphBalls (Donegal) - Posts: 109 - 01/06/2021 13:18:20    2347373

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Replying To BreffniGael:  "Cavan's league form last year also backed up even more, the view that they would do nothing in the Championship. This years league is really no gauge and Mickey doesn't seem to have much regard for the league anyway. This is something that is exercising Cavan fans greatly who want us to be competitive whether it's league or Championship but he has his reasons and is trying out some new young players. Last Saturday was actually encouraging. Derry are flying, much fitter and had tanked Fermanagh and Longford. They were the better team and deserved to win but could easily have been caught by Cavan who caused them bother when they put the squeeze on them - outscored them 1-6 to 0-1 at one point in the first half and got it back to a point from 7 down in the second half. We also had no Ciaran Brady, James Smith, Gerry Smith and Thomas the Tank only came on in the second half for his first run out. We will be a different animal against Tyrone who are still finding their feet and trying to change from the old system. In terms of pure talent Donegal are favourites but talent alone hasn't stopped them falling at hurdles they were expected to clear for the last few years - and none more so than Cavan last year. So they have a lot of questions to answer and who knows what harm the defeat last year will have caused - we might only find out the answer to that in an Ulster final when it is again tight with 5 minutes to go."
I couldn't disagree with any of that. Cavan now also have the experience of winning a title, they have a lot of good players and a very astute manager. I know that Tyrone away is a very difficult hurdle but given what I saw of Cavan last year, it would be absolute folly on Tyrone's part to take them for granted. That is the standout fixture from the draw and a game I will be looking forward to watching.

For ourselves, whilst it was alarming to see us so open against Monaghan, and struggle to get to grips with Armagh for periods of the game last weekend, it was encouraging to see others stand up in the absence of Murphy. McBrearty and Langan in particular really grabbed things by the scruff of the neck when needed. We also saw MacNiallais come back into the fold and he has shown glimpses of his undoubted quality. We'll need more from him in the weeks ahead. It was great to see Conor O'Donnell come in and make a good impact. He is a serious operator and highly regarded here in Donegal but he has been very unfortunate with injuries,

It's fantastic to have all these games to look forward to.

Lockjaw (Donegal) - Posts: 7441 - 01/06/2021 13:42:57    2347390

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Replying To Lockjaw:  "I couldn't disagree with any of that. Cavan now also have the experience of winning a title, they have a lot of good players and a very astute manager. I know that Tyrone away is a very difficult hurdle but given what I saw of Cavan last year, it would be absolute folly on Tyrone's part to take them for granted. That is the standout fixture from the draw and a game I will be looking forward to watching.

For ourselves, whilst it was alarming to see us so open against Monaghan, and struggle to get to grips with Armagh for periods of the game last weekend, it was encouraging to see others stand up in the absence of Murphy. McBrearty and Langan in particular really grabbed things by the scruff of the neck when needed. We also saw MacNiallais come back into the fold and he has shown glimpses of his undoubted quality. We'll need more from him in the weeks ahead. It was great to see Conor O'Donnell come in and make a good impact. He is a serious operator and highly regarded here in Donegal but he has been very unfortunate with injuries,

It's fantastic to have all these games to look forward to."
Unfortunately fantastic for Kerry also who can just jog in to a semi final spot. No matter who wins Ulster, they will have mileage on clock compared to Kerry. When are the GAA going to open their eyes and have an open draw All Ireland.

Saynothing (Tyrone) - Posts: 979 - 01/06/2021 14:48:18    2347412

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Replying To Saynothing:  "Unfortunately fantastic for Kerry also who can just jog in to a semi final spot. No matter who wins Ulster, they will have mileage on clock compared to Kerry. When are the GAA going to open their eyes and have an open draw All Ireland."
For sure. It's totally lopsided. Even more so this year given the fact that the games will be coming thick and fast and injuries are an almost inevitable consequence.

Lockjaw (Donegal) - Posts: 7441 - 01/06/2021 15:53:37    2347443

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Replying To Saynothing:  "Unfortunately fantastic for Kerry also who can just jog in to a semi final spot. No matter who wins Ulster, they will have mileage on clock compared to Kerry. When are the GAA going to open their eyes and have an open draw All Ireland."
Kerry's bigger advantage is avoiding Dublin or mayo to the final. Not the munster championship being easy. If you put tyrone in munster and kerry in ulster the semi final would likely have the same result.

Sssthe (Mayo) - Posts: 47 - 01/06/2021 15:57:27    2347446

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Replying To MurphBalls:  "To be honest, I don't think Cavan will lay a finger on Tyrone. Fair play to Cavan last year and they deserved to beat Donegal in the final but I think it was a 1 in 100 shot imho. Personally, I think Cavan are a division 3 team, possibly a division 2 team at best and last season was a sign of the times with both Tipp and Cavan getting to AI semi finals, both of whom are battling it out for Division 3 survival."
You may well be right and their league form backs you up but this years league is no yardstick either, only 3 games with little preparation and a lot of players missing and debuts given out. Also Mickey has lost only 1 championship game out of 8, getting to 2 finals and winning 1. Last year they beat 2 Div 1 teams on the way to the championship. The betting odds against Cavan in the final last year where the longest ever for a two horse race and I don't agree it was a I in a 100 shot. Only time will tell....

BreffniGael (Cavan) - Posts: 8 - 01/06/2021 16:07:18    2347449

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Replying To Sssthe:  "Kerry's bigger advantage is avoiding Dublin or mayo to the final. Not the munster championship being easy. If you put tyrone in munster and kerry in ulster the semi final would likely have the same result."
Mayo haha? What is everyone's obsession with a Mayo team that qualified to an AI final by beating Tipperary to get there? Just a reminder that Tipperary are in a relegation battle to maintain Division 3 status. Division 3? I know league doesn't mean a whole lot but I would say that more applies to Division 1 and Division 2 teams. I put Mayo outside of Dublin, Kerry, Donegal, and Tyrone. Judging by this years league I'd probably put Armagh and Monaghan ahead of them too.

The fact of the matter is that the Ulster teams have played 3, sometimes 4 hard games on the way to the AI semi final. Kerry play Waterford sometimes to earn a spot in the Munster final where they might play Tipperary. If you put Tyrone in Munster and Kerry in Ulster it would be a completely different outcome.

MurphBalls (Donegal) - Posts: 109 - 01/06/2021 16:37:55    2347457

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Cavan have done very little for the league- beating Tyrone for the first time since 1983 is the sole focus. That would put paid to the claims of a 'once-off' Ulster win in 2020. Cavan have nearly pipped them on a few occasions and its very doable for them this time around. Its hard to know with Tyrone too. They could rack up a huge score or kick wides all day depending on the mood.
Its like paper-scissors stone with these two and Donegal (who will be well-tested twice before their semi). That makes the first game the defining one I think. Can't see Cavan beating both back to back just yet, but if Tyrone come through they are probably due one against Donegal. When it comes to it you would say Tyrone beating Donegal in a semi is the likely outcome.
On the other side, Armagh look like they will benefit from being grouped with a struggling Fermanagh, a Monaghan team who have forgotten how to win, and a limited Antrim. They will cruise to a final but get caught by a better Tyrone team at that stage,

Eddie the Exile (Monaghan) - Posts: 858 - 01/06/2021 20:01:39    2347501

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Replying To MurphBalls:  "To be honest, I don't think Cavan will lay a finger on Tyrone. Fair play to Cavan last year and they deserved to beat Donegal in the final but I think it was a 1 in 100 shot imho. Personally, I think Cavan are a division 3 team, possibly a division 2 team at best and last season was a sign of the times with both Tipp and Cavan getting to AI semi finals, both of whom are battling it out for Division 3 survival."
1 in 100 chance? I take it you dont own a bookies ! Cavan are nothing special that's for sure but this Donegal team are a shadow of the team McGuinness had. The likes of Murphy, McBrearty and Donnelly, Peter Harte, etc are not getting any younger and the door is slowly opening for someone new to go and dominate Ulster

97Cavans (Cavan) - Posts: 195 - 01/06/2021 20:51:19    2347519

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Replying To Sssthe:  "Kerry's bigger advantage is avoiding Dublin or mayo to the final. Not the munster championship being easy. If you put tyrone in munster and kerry in ulster the semi final would likely have the same result."
What I'm getting at is that there would be more tests in Ulster, say Monaghan first, then maybe Tyrone and then a Ulster final v Donegal. Then an All Ireland semi final and final after that. Welcome to the Ulster championship.

Saynothing (Tyrone) - Posts: 979 - 01/06/2021 21:47:11    2347533

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Replying To Sssthe:  "Kerry's bigger advantage is avoiding Dublin or mayo to the final. Not the munster championship being easy. If you put tyrone in munster and kerry in ulster the semi final would likely have the same result."
I would be a lot more confident facing the Connacht champions than the Ulster champions. On their day, Donegal and Tyrone are much more dangerous than Mayo in my honest opinion. Dublin have the easy side of the draw, they're guaranteed finalists, the question is who will join them.

Kerry15 (Kerry) - Posts: 863 - 01/06/2021 23:27:41    2347571

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Replying To Saynothing:  "Unfortunately fantastic for Kerry also who can just jog in to a semi final spot. No matter who wins Ulster, they will have mileage on clock compared to Kerry. When are the GAA going to open their eyes and have an open draw All Ireland."
Supposed to fall on Ulster v Connaught last year as the semi final pairings and again casually forgotten this year. The GAA didn't get their Dublin v Kerry final last year and hopefully the same will happen this year serve them right.

panamasam (Australia) - Posts: 2663 - 01/06/2021 23:28:16    2347572

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From a Tyrone point of view a team under new management and without a championship win since beating Antrim in 2019 will be happy to just get past Cavan in the first round. Don't forget Cavan have the championship form in beating Monaghan, Down and Donegal less than a year ago and will really be out to defend their crown.

Byanthon (Tyrone) - Posts: 1698 - 02/06/2021 08:59:41    2347583

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Whilst Donegal have beaten Tyrone recently I suspect Tyrone may win a semi final between the 2, presuming they both make it that far.

Tyrone do have midfield options but not sure why we so often just surrender midfield instead. Brian Kennedy and Mc Nulty to me are both good for that area.

I think Tyrone will improve enough to win Ulster, and that the extra games will count against Donegal.

Armagh, Monaghan, Cavan all are competitive but I think the winner of a Tyrone Donegal semi final wins Ulster.

tyroneed (Tyrone) - Posts: 748 - 02/06/2021 13:44:26    2347701

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Genuinely think armagh can win Ulster. Easier side of the draw and the team they will face in final will have had some v hard matches. Cavan will be hell bent on having a right crack at tyrone and showing last year wasn't a one off and think they will go v close to winning that one. Tyrone seem to have gone back a little dont seem as ruthless and think people underestimate effect of harte leaving. Donegal could beat teams out the gate with array of attacking talent they have but unlike days gone by their defence can be got at. A lot will depend on murphy being ready for a lot of hard matches just to make the final. Armagh will beat Antrim and should have too much for either ourselves who are in transition with a few more youthful faces (good but inconsistent performances) or fermanagh.

seanie08 (Monaghan) - Posts: 1587 - 02/06/2021 17:13:14    2347768

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