GAA Expert & Columnist
Donegal vs Armagh: Peter Canavan asks if Tir Chonaill can prove their All-Ireland credentials
Peter Canavan looks ahead to the weekend's big Gaelic football games, as Armagh take on Donegal, and Mayo face Galway. Watch the Ulster Championship semi-final live on Sky Sports Mix from 12:15pm Saturday.
Last Updated: 12/11/20 2:20pm
Declan Bonner and Stephen Rochford will be sounding warnings against complacency this week, after what happened to Kerry and Monaghan so far in the championship.
The reigning Ulster champions do not want to join a growing list of upsets.
When Donegal play Armagh, they will win nine times out of 10. But it only takes the one occasion. Wet, blustery conditions can be a leveller.
They have to be wary of that. But they also need their key personnel to step up to the plate, and improve on their performances from the Tyrone game.
The Red Hands were able to stifle Michael Murphy, Ryan McHugh and Jamie Brennan. But the impressive aspect was how others really stood up to the plate.
You may be able to do a job on some of Donegal's key players, but Ciarán Thompson and Michael Langan took up the mantle in Ballybofey, while Oisin Gallen added real impact off the bench.
Donegal are favourites to retain the Anglo-Celt Cup, which would likely set up an All-Ireland semi-final showdown with Dublin.
If Donegal are to beat Dublin, they are going to need Paddy McBrearty on the pitch. And he looks set to return from injury this weekend.
If you add him to that forward unit, they are a completely different proposition. They have got size, they have got target men, they can mix things up a bit and deploy Michael Murphy at the edge of the square.
With Langan, Gallen, Thompson and Jamie Brennan, they have an array of talent. But they need McBrearty on the pitch. He is clinical in front of goals, and from a free-taking point of view, he is invaluable as well.
Getting over the line, and getting some game-time for Paddy McBrearty would be a more-than-satisfactory day's work for Donegal on Saturday afternoon.
I fancy them to come through with something to spare.
Armagh on the up
For the Orchard County to get promoted to Division 1 was no straightforward task. They had to beat some tough sides to get there. But it was fully merited.
Kieran McGeeney is trying to strengthen his panel, and gave a lot of players chances throughout the National League.
They are a team that is making progress slowly but surely. They never really looked like losing their Ulster quarter-final against Derry.
Now they are going into the semi-final as underdogs.
Interestingly, Armagh probably possess a greater physicality around the middle third than Tyrone. They have a number of bigger players.
Jarly Óg Burns, Rian O'Neill, Oisin O'Neill and Stephen Sheridan are all big physical players in there, while Niall Grimley made an impact against Derry.
They are going to need that against Donegal, who are probably one of the biggest teams about.
Without doubt, it's a massive challenge for Armagh to overcome Donegal. Cork's win last week will provide inspiration that it can be done.
But in terms of artillery, Donegal hold too much firepower.
Stakes are high as Galway and Mayo renew rivalry
News of Kerry's shock defeat will certainly have pricked the ears in Galway and Mayo. The door to an All-Ireland final place has now opened for the two Connacht finalists.
The danger with Mayo is that they have had difficulty backing up one good game with a good performance. They played very well against the Tribesmen in the National League, and they went out the following weekend and played poorly against Tyrone. Their league was up-and-down, but they were superb against Roscommon.
They will be hoping for more of the same following last week's victory.
But there is going to be a kick in Galway. No doubt that Pádraic Joyce and his side have been waiting for this opportunity since the moment the final whistle went in Tuam last month.
The advantage that Mayo have is that they are up-and-running in the championship. We just aren't as sure about Galway. Have they regained their form from earlier in the year?
The other negative from a Galway perspective is the absence of Damien Comer. He is going to be unavailable. If there is a possible area for them to exploit, it is the lack of height in the Mayo full-back line. Comer was certainly the man to do that.
That tips the balance in Mayo's favour.
Watch a live double-header on Sky Sports Mix on Saturday from 12.15pm, as Donegal face Armagh in the Ulster Football Championship, before the All-Ireland Hurling Championship qualifier between Cork and Tipperary.