All Ireland Ante Post – Down look Quarter Final Value at 8/1

Lonesharkoy looks at the All Ireland Football ante post market and he likes Down at 8/1 to make the quarter finals.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the ante post betting for the 2016 senior football championship is the universality of opinion across all firms. Traditionally bookies are far more likely to go away from the prevailing line in markets like this, since the timeframe theoretically allows them to shape their book over time. Meanwhile the presence of the possibility – however slim – of an outsider coming from nowhere is usually enough to scare off traders looking for arbitrage opportunities.

Yet at the time of writing there are ten firms quoted on oddschecker for this event and eight of them are offering 11/10 Dublin, 3/1 Kerry and 11/2 Mayo.

The prevailing wisdom from the national media is that Dublin have plenty to spare on the chasing pack. However this column would tend to fall into line with the bookies that bit more. Even in dominant seasons such as last year, Dublin usually dance with death somewhere along the line and as they face into yet another year where there is every possibility that they’ll have to go from a farcical Leinster championship into a fiercely competitive All Ireland race, that danger is still very real.

Out of the two contenders closest to them, Mayo at 11/2 makes slightly more appeal. League form is irrelevant for a county of their stature and with their injury record early in the year, while Stephen Rochford would have been acutely aware that for this team, it’s only August and September that matters. Mayo’s player upheaval last winter was deliberate and considered, unlike the more reactionary move from the Galway hurlers, so the players clearly feel that the time is right for them to strike. Diarmuid O’Connor’s emergence, not to mention that of Evan Regan, may have given Cillian O’Connor the scoring support he needs, so if we were to pick a bet from the top three, Mayo are the standout selection.

However to find real value, we’re going to drill a little deeper and pick out a bet that might cause a few readers to raise their eyebrows – Down to reach the All Ireland Quarter Finals at 8/1, with Boylesports or Paddy Power.

Just to be clear, we haven’t forgotten how poor Down were during the National League, or that they lost out in the championship to Wexford last year. However there is still plenty of talent in Down football, even if they are at a low ebb – simply put, they never would have been able to make their way to division one if there wasn’t.

For that reason, perversely, we’re suggesting this bet on the basis that they are very likely to lose against Monaghan this Sunday.

Of all the strong teams in Ulster, Monaghan are the ones most vulnerable to upset from the Mourne men, simply because like Down, they lack any huge physical size in the middle third. Donegal could line out against Down and monopolise primary possession, but Monaghan won’t do that, and we saw that during this year’s league when Down actually caused Monaghan plenty of problems.

However the most probable outcome is that Down will be in the qualifier pot on Monday morning, all the more given their very poor record at Clones. However from there they have a glorious chance of building some momentum – which is exactly what a misfiring, talented group needs.

Barring any huge shocks, their first round game will be against one of the following: Waterford, London, Antrim, Fermanagh, Longford, Wexford, and either Offaly or Westmeath. Due to the home advantage rule, Down would be guaranteed home advantage against five of those, with only London certain to be an away fixture. Offaly or Antrim could be either – but Antrim is a short spin for Down, while Offaly may not even be in the pot.

The next step would be a losing provincial semi-finalist, where the real danger would be the loser of the Monaghan vs Donegal tie. Galway would also be a very tricky, but not insurmountable challenge – while they would be heavily favoured against a Munster or Leinster team.

Round 3B could be very tough but by now, if Donegal beat Monaghan and the Farney county recovered in round 2, then Down and Monaghan would be kept apart – thus ensuring that the Mourne men would again be in with a great chance of advancing.

The final hurdle would be against the losing provincial finalist from either Ulster or Leinster and while that could go either way, a Down side with three consecutive wins under their belt would be a dangerous animal at that stage of proceedings.

At 25/1 to win Ulster and reach the quarter-finals through the direct route (current best price) and perhaps 50/1 to lose the Ulster final and then win a round 4 game, that accounts for 6% of our total bet. That means anything more than a 5% chance of following the route outlined above makes 8/1 good value – and 5% seems a very low estimation when we consider the potential there is in this group to find their rhythm over the course of the summer.

Recommended Bet:

Down to reach All Ireland Quarter Final at 8/1 with Paddy Power and Boylesports