All Ireland Hurling Semi Finals

Lonesharkoy previews the All Ireland semi finals and he likes Cork to beat Limerick and no Galway goal against Clare.

Cork vs Limerick

Of the two big games taking place this weekend, this is the easier game to look past – but not from a betting point of view. This neutral, with no dog in the hunt, finds it hard to get excited about either side, particularly since Limerick seem to have plateaued after their strong early season form. We opposed them with Kilkenny, and while that didn’t prove correct, the temptation to do the same again this weekend is too strong to ignore.

Firstly, we’ll look at the game from the Limerick perspective. The Treaty county had been haunted by a series of near misses in the league over the last number of seasons, and while other counties like Galway and Waterford have been happy to do their hurling in Division 1B, conserving energy in Spring with a view to exploding onto the scene in the summer, the same is not true Shannonside. Rightly or wrongly, Limerick would perceive themselves as not quite part of hurling’s immediate royal family, but a close cousin nonetheless – and living life in 1B was a real bugbear, particularly as quite often it was slip ups of their own making that kept them there.

More than any other manager, a successful league campaign was a priority for John Kiely, and he delivered that – and with the fresh injection of impetus provided by the influx of players from Na Piarsaigh, that momentum carried on into the summer. The problem is that they haven’t been able to match their high point for the year, that being their first championship outing against Tipperary. Since then the graph has flatlined a bit, even if we strip away their poor showing against Clare. Despite what some pundits have suggested, this writer’s view is that the quality of the game against Kilkenny wasn’t incredibly high, and it was more about Kilkenny’s battling ability despite their heavy workload than anything else.

Now let’s compare that with Cork. The Rebels don’t catch the imagination of the public as much as a team that has won back-to-back Munster titles should do, and that’s more than a little unfair. Certainly they have star quality up front, they have pace and mobility in the middle third and a full back line that looked incredibly vulnerable at the start of the year is holding on okay, albeit while conceding totals that are probably a little higher than ideal for a side that wants to win an All-Ireland.

They certainly don’t have warrior-style performers like a Diarmuid O’Sullivan or Seán Óg Ó’hAilpín, but that’s not the identity of this team – while others like to break the door down with a battering ram, Cork prefer to pick the lock. There are concerns in the side – match ups like Aaron Gillane vs Colm Spillane will be absolutely crucial this week – but when we strip away this year’s league, and championship results would suggest that there’s good cause for doing so, then on championship form, Cork are a bit ahead of Limerick right now. Not a lot, but enough to warrant a bet at 11/10.

Recommendation

Cork to win, 11/10, Boylesports

Galway vs Clare

At the start of the year, one of the big concerns in the Galway camp was their goalscoring. They won an All Ireland without ever posing a significant goal threat in 2017, but Micheál Donoghue is an astute man and he identified in a number of interviews that this needed to be looked at.

In their first game against Offaly, it seemed like it had been, as five green flags were raised and only a stellar performance from Offaly goalkeeper Eoghan Cahill, they could have had as many more. The problem is that as the summer rolled on, it became apparent that Offaly weren’t on the same level as the other Liam MacCarthy Cup counties, and that was an anomaly. Since then Galway have played five more games, scoring one goal three times and none at all on two more occasions. And since Clare have a solid defence, with David McInerney in magnificent form on the edge of their square, there’s no obvious reason to suggest that they’ll do any better in this game. There are two ways we could play this – take the 10/11 about under 1.5 goals, or go for the big win and play 4/1 about no Galway goalscorer. Without getting into the maths too much, we’ll just say that based on a goals expectancy of about 1.4, which is this column’s estimate, the true chances of no Galway goal is a touch over 24%, while none or one falls at just under 60%.

We’ll leave it up to the educated readers of Betswot to do their own sums there, but yours truly is going for the big win.

Recommendation

No Galway goalscorer, 4/1, general

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