Lonesharkoy previews the Fooytball qualifiers this weekend and he has bets on Carlow and Louth.
Louth vs Leitrim
Outside of Drogheda or Dromahair, there won’t be too many people getting unduly worked up about this clash in Carrick-on-Shannon, with the possible exception of pretty much every other team who makes it to Monday morning’s qualifier round three draw, as the winner here will be the plum tie that everyone will hope for.
Other counties in Ulster and Leinster can only look on with envy at Leitrim’s ability to reach a provincial semi-final by beating New York, or in some cases, without beating anyone at all. It’s not a criticism of Ireland’s smallest county (by population!) to say that they’re as weak a team as there is in Ireland right now, and consequently they won’t have been too discouraged by the comprehensive manner of their Connacht semi-final defeat to Roscommon, since they would have expected nothing else in that game. The Wee County were very poor in the Leinster Championship and Pete McGrath’s comments afterwards suggested that all was not well in the camp, but if things were that bad, they wouldn’t have brushed London aside with such ease.
Let’s not forget that in a division four context, London and Leitrim aren’t dis-similar. London lost by two points to Waterford, by two points to Laois, by four points to Antrim, by five points to Carlow, drew with Limerick and hammered Wicklow in the six games they played. Leitrim’s results were very little better than that, and when we look at the players available to them, they have to field far too many very ordinary players. Louth should win here, even if it’s understandable that some people will struggle to trust in them after their season so far.
It should be noted in that regard however that there is great faith in Louth out there – the market has shifted into 4/9 in spots, though a good few online firms are still offering 4/6. Take Hills’ offer of even money Louth minus one point while you can.
Louth (-1pt) to beat Leitrim at evens with William Hill
Carlow vs Tyrone
There is a presumption out there that having edged past Meath and got the dirty petrol out of their system, Tyrone should be capable of moving through the gears now and building up momentum in a bid to secure a place in the Super 8 series. Certainly the idea that Carlow might beat Tyrone is a little far-fetched, but it’s equally hard to imagine that Tyrone won’t have a fair bit of difficulty covering the seven-point spread that’s been installed for this game.
Carlow get more than a little criticism for their defensive approach, but you won’t find too many critics in the Dolmen County after a year in which promotion has been secured, the team has made two trips to Croke Park and secured a famous championship win over neighbours Kildare. Moreover, they play exactly as they should, given the players at their disposal. There isn’t five or six free scoring forwards in Turlough O’Brien’s squad, but there is a serious core group of physically imposing players who can tackle, carry the ball into contact, and support the man in possession. Their style of play wins frees, and Paul Broderick is well capable of converting a high proportion of the chances that comes his way.
Tyrone are no doubt capable of far more than they’ve shown so far but while losing to Monaghan was eminently forgivable, Monaghan’s subsequent loss to Fermanagh would suggest that their poor showing in Navan wasn’t just first-round blues.
Oddly, Tyrone themselves aren’t nearly as defensive in their play as some pundits might suggest, but they don’t have a direct route option, and they tend to try to run the ball into scoring positions as opposed to use a full forward fulcrum. Daniel Flynn of Kildare and Donie Kingston of Laois were both far more involved in the game than their final tallies suggested, and that’s not the type of player that Mickey Harte has used close to goal this year.
Add in the usual carnival atmosphere in Carlow on a Saturday night in the summer, and this could get very tense. Tyrone should advance, but it’s unlikely to be by a large margin.
Carlow (+7pts) to beat Tyrone at 6/5 with Boylesports