Lonesharkoy previews this weekend's All Ireland Gaelic Football matches and likes Donegal on handicap against Cork. He also recommends going under 38.5 in Galway v Tipperary.
At any other time of year, calling Donegal vs Cork would be easy – we’d back the Ulster county all day. However if there is any time when they might be vulnerable, it’s right now, when the wounds from their last gasp defeat to Tyrone are still fresh. Whether you’ve lost in the first round or the final of your provincial championship; the next day out is always incredibly difficult, but that’s doubly the case when they were close enough to taste victory. As we saw last week with Roscommon, the next day out when you’re playing six days later is almost impossible to handle, but even with a couple of weeks to recover from the loss, there still are a lot of mental hurdles to be crossed.
It would be easy to say that Cork haven’t really bounced back from their loss to Tipperary at any stage. Scrambled victories over Limerick and Longford are hardly the type of results that would indicate that the Rebels are firing on all cylinders. Yet it’s notable that either by accident or design, Peadar Healy appears to have hit on a few key revelations at just the right time. This reporter was in Longford to watch Cork dig themselves out of a hole against the home side and unless you were there, it’s impossible to appreciate quite the scale of their transformation from one half to another. They had the breeze in the opening half when they were comfortably outplayed by Longford, but once Colm O’Neill and Paddy Kelly came off the bench, they were unrecognisable – sharp, confident, and incisive. Kelly was back to his form from the turn of the decade and O’Neill looked incredibly threatening, far more so than Peter Kelleher who came in with a high reputation but was completely shut down by Barry Gilleran.
The introduction of those two players will be a huge boost, but it’s balanced out by a hamstring injury to Brian Hurley, and more importantly the suspension of centre back James Loughrey. Perhaps because he’s a blow in and not a native Cork man, the former Antrim defender doesn’t get nearly enough credit down south for his contribution to the side. He anchors the defence brilliantly, he plays like a leader in a team that lacks that quality in the back division, and unless Eoin Cadogan steps up from full back – thus leaving another key vacancy – it’s hard to see how he can be adequately replaced from the panel currently at Healy’s disposal.
Donegal have a much higher cruising speed, they won’t be under the same amount of pressure while shooting as they were against Tyrone, and they could easily make ribbons of a defence that will be shorn of its rudder at six. Coming back from a defeat won’t be easy of course, but the extra seven days is critical to their chances – and just the same as every other week of the year, they are comfortably the better side of the two. Stan James offer 10/11 about Donegal minus one point, which could be the best value option out there – though there will be takers for the last of the 8/13 about Rory Gallagher’s men on the straight win as well.
For our second bet this week, we’re going to take advantage of what looks like an over-reaction from the layers with their offer of 10/11 about under 38.5 total points in the clash between Galway and Tipperary, on offer with both Boylesports and Paddy Power.
Many firms got burned last time out in the match between Tipp and Derry, with a steady flow of money reported for the overs in that game, but the crucial aspect that fed into the shootout in Breffni Park was that it was a meeting between two teams that liked to go all-out attack. Derry might have the reputation as a tough Ulster County that has given the game some of the best defenders that have ever laced boots, but that’s not their character under Damien Barton.
Galway, on the other hand, are a county with an aristocratic reputation that has given the game some of the best forwards that we’ve seen over the past twenty years – and that bears little or no relation to the type of football they play now. They may have opened up against Roscommon but they are still a side that likes to defend first and foremost, and are happy to live off scraps up front, backing players like Danny Cummins and Damien Comer to overcome defences by way of their individual brilliance. At the other end of the field, from a position where nobody knew of him outside of Galway and few would have been able to pick him out of a line-up inside the borders of the county, Declan Kyne has put himself in the running for an All Star this year, and in front of him Gary O’Donnell is in exemplary form.
It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that we get a 1-18 to 2-13 result here, but the smart money would suggest that it’s more likely to be less, and that the bookies have just overdone it here.
Donegal (-1 point) to beat Cork at 10/11 with Stan James
Under 38.5 points between Galway and Tipperary at 10/11 with Paddy Power and Boylesports