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Senan Connell’s tips for Cork v Donegal

by Josh Powell | August 26, 2012

Cork v Donegal, Sunday 3.30pm, RTE2

This is the most eagerly anticipated All-Ireland semi-final for the last decade. Two cracking teams coming in with a lot of confidence and people have said that this is the side of the draw were the champions will come from and you have to agree.

These two teams are coming in off the back of really strong performances. Donegal have two Ulster titles and have a lot of confidence in their play so they certainly won’t fear Cork.

Tactics will be huge. Donegal will operate a defensive system but I can’t see them parking the bus like they did against Dublin last year. They are now a lot more offensive and they break in numbers when they win the ball back and that’s their strength.

They’re going to sit back, invite Cork on to them, turn the ball over and then break forward in numbers working the ball into space to the likes of Colm McFadden. Cork are a little vulnerable when teams come at them with pace and if Donegal are going to win this game this is how they’re going to do it. But it’s hard to see were the scores will come from for Donegal if McFadden is snuffed out.

POINTS MACHINE: McFadden is a crucial part of the Donegal team

The two teams met in the league in March which Donegal won 1-7 0-6 so they won’t be scared of Cork coming up. They’ve averaged just short of 18 points a game this year and have five Championship wins under their belt. They have the ability to keep teams scoreless for long periods of the match and they will do the same to Cork. They will suffocate the life out of the Cork forwards and hit on the counter-attack.

Cork hit the snooze button against Kildare when it looked like they were coasting. Donegal keep teams scoreless for long periods and Cork have been known to go to sleep for spells in matches. That is what could dictate the result today.

Having said that look at Cork’s strength and depth, their pace, power and physicality in possession is phenomenal. They can also score from distance and if Cork win this game it could even come down to frees.

The most crucial thing will be if either team can get a goal, that will decide the match. Cork are yet to concede a goal in the Championship this year and Donegal have only conceded one from open play in this year and last years championship. Goals will be very hard to come by and will make the difference.

It’s going to be tight and I can only see a point or two in it either way. It really depends on what Cork team turn up because we know what Donegal bring to the table.

It would be no surprise to me if Donegal won and they are great value at 13/8. But Cork’s experience and hunger could be the difference and punters will take the 4/6 on them all day.

I’m still waiting for a big draw in the football and this could be the one so  15/2 might be worth a few quid in a fiercely close contest!

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