A closer look at the All-Ireland football semi-finalists

The 2019 All-Ireland Football Championship is reaching its climax and we are down to the final four teams who will battle it out for a place in the final. Mayo will play defending champions and group 2 winners Dublin on Saturday 10th August; while in the other semi-final, the runners-up of last year’s final, Tyrone face Kerry on Sunday 11th August.

Looking at the All-Ireland Football winner with Betfair Exchange, it appears Dublin are very much the favourites to retain their title. But should you fancy a flutter, or just some more information on this year’s semi-finalists, let’s take a look at the four battling it out for the All-Ireland Football Championship.

Mayo

Representing the province of Connacht, Mayo have made a total of 16 finals appearances, but have only been successful on three occasions, the most recent being in 1951. Their last finals appearance came in 2017 when they were beaten by Dublin, by a single point.

Mayo began their Championship playing in the qualifying stages – beating Down, Armagh and Galway before making it through to the group stage. They then faced Donegal, Kerry and Meath in group 1 and at the end of phase 3, finished as the runner-up. They were beaten by group winners Kerry 1-22 – 0-15; but were triumphant over Meath (2-17 – 0-14) and Donegal (1-14 – 1-10), respectively.

Manager James Horan is in his second spell with the club, having previously guided Mayo to their two All-Ireland finals in 2012 and 2013. He returned in October 2018 and before he took on a managerial role in inter-county Gaelic football, he managed County Mayo club, Ballintubber – the club he had turned out for during his playing days.

Not only is Cillian O’Connor Mayo’s top scorer in this year’s Championship, but he is also the Championship’s current all-time top scorer, with 363 points (24-291) from 53 games. The 27-year-old who is also captain for the senior team plays his club football for Ballintubber, so is familiar with the coaching style of Horan, having played for him for both club and county.

Dublin

Representing Leinster, Dublin are the defending champions and have won the All-Ireland Football final on 28 occasions. Should they be successful this year, it would be the fifth consecutive Championship for Dub, which would set a new record (Wexford and Kerry have both also won the Championship four years successively).

As provincial champions, Dublin made it straight through to the group stage, where they played Cork (5-18 – 1-17), Roscommon (2-26 – 0-14) and Tyrone (1-16 – 0-13). It was three wins out of three for Dub, who not only scored the most points (84), but conceded the fewest (47) – advancing to the semi-finals as the winner of group 2.

Manager Jim Gavin has been at the helm since October 2012 and is the county’s most successful manager in terms of major titles (17 to date) and he holds a win percentage of 83%. As a player, Gavin represented club and county – and was part of the Dublin team that won the 1995 All-Ireland Football Championship.

In terms for ones to watch for Dublin, left corner forwards Cormac Costello and Dean Rock know how to score. Costello has scored 34 points (1-31) in the competition so far and even notched an impressive 15 points in a single game against Louth in quarter-finals of the Leinster Championship; while Rock has chipped in with 23 points (1-20) and was rampant against Roscommon, scoring 14 in a single game. Both players have five All-Ireland Championship titles to their name.

Tyrone

Of the four teams left standing, Tyrone have had the least success – with three titles and three runner-up finishes to their name. However, all of their Championships have come since the turn of the millennium, with the most recent in 2008. Tyrone represent the province of Ulster.

Tyrone’s All-Ireland Championship campaign began in the qualifiers, triumphing over Longford, Kildare and Cavan. In group 2, Tyrone won their first two games over Roscommon (0-17 – 0-13) and Cork (2-15 – 2-12) but lost to Dublin to finish runner-up.

Mickey Harte has been the man in charge since 2003, going on to be the most successful manager in the senior team’s history – guiding them to all three of their All-Ireland titles, as well as five Ulster titles. Harte also previously managed his hometown club, Errigal Ciarán where he tasted success.

Cathal McShane is the Championship’s top scorer with a total of 50 points (3-41) from eight matches – and as well as that accolade, he could well be awarded an All Star Award come the end of the tournament.

Kerry

Kerry are the most successful team in the All-Ireland Football Championship, with a total of 37 wins and 22 runner-up finishes. However, their last victory came in 2014 and the following year they lost the final to Dublin, who have asserted their dominance ever since.

As the provincial champions of Munster, Kerry needn’t qualify for the Championship and advanced straight to the group stage. Here, they faced Mayo (1-22 – 0-15), Donegal (1-20 – 1-20) and Meath (2-18 – 1-13) where they won the group with two wins and a draw to secure their place in the semi-finals.

Peter Keane has been Kerry’s manager for less than a year, joining the senior team in October 2018; however, he was previously in charge of the minor football team for three years. In the short time he’s been the senior manager, Keane has won the provincial title.

At 21-years-old, Sean O’Shea is set to have a long career ahead of him – and he has lit up this year’s Championship, assisting with 36 points (1-33) for one of the best average returns in the tournament. With the ability to kick off both feet, O’Shea is certainly a great prospect for Kerry’s future.