Connacht Football & Munster Hurling Final Previews

Lonesharkoy previews the Connacht Football and Munster Hurling Finals in addition to the All Ireland Qualifier between Kildare and Offaly.

There’s wrong and then there’s spectacularly wrong, and the footballers of Cavan and Tyrone certainly made a mockery of our “under 28.5” suggestion when they took the field in Clones last weekend. There was a temptation to try and get back involved with Cavan when Brendan Murphy’s suspension was confirmed. However a fourteen point handicap is more than high enough, particularly when we consider that Cavan have had just six days to recover from a particularly demoralising defeat.

We are going to go in for another “under” bet however, that of under 34.5 points in Connacht Final at 5/6 with Paddy Power. Since the start of 2015, the totals in Galway’s championship matches read as follows: 32, 24, 32, 27, 22, 32, 27. Their draw with Armagh (1-15 each, total 36) was the only league game out of seven in which they exceeded that total and while the Rossies are a more freescoring bunch, there is little or no chance that Fergal O’Donnell and Kevin McStay will gamble on falling into a hole against a Galway side that is well capable of shutting up shop entirely. Expect a conservative, cagey encounter here, barring something very unusual.

We certainly wouldn’t read too much into the Roscommon team as selected, particularly since Senan Kilbride was in brilliant form for St Brigids in the last round of championship action in the county and we expect he will get a start. However the decision to leave Diarmuid Murtagh out of the 26 entirely is truly shocking, while Donie Shine’s demotion would suggest that they are looking to go far more defensive at midfield. Of all the bets we’ve recommended so far this year, this one is arguably the strongest of all.

The Munster Hurling Final is too big of an event to let it pass by without consideration. However there isn’t anything like as glaring an error to be found on this one. One could make a case for Waterford’s continued improvement and the fact that they possibly should be a little bit closer to even money than 13/8, but it’s easy to forget that Tipperary are a very strong championship side; a team that Waterford have struggled to best in recent seasons.

John O’Dwyer’s suspension would be a massive blow to most counties, but Tipperary’s strength in depth up front is without compare. They’ve lost an elite, elite attacker, but they wouldn’t have to field anyone that isn’t capable of doing a lot of damage – even against one of the best defensive systems the game has ever seen.

Earlier in the year we gained some good results going low on goals in Waterford games and there appears to be some scope for a similar play here. Bet365 are yet again out of line with their totals so if you can hoover up some of their 10/3 about under 1.5 goals, do just that.

In the other qualifier games taking place, rarely has there been a tip I would be happier to be wrong about, but 5/4 about Kildare -2pts against Offaly with Boylesports looks like a decent shout. You’d have to understand Offaly football very well to appreciate how much the loss to Westmeath hurt. It was a quarter final that was there to be won, and the chance was spurned. A victory over London, even when you have to come back from five points down, doesn’t expunge that.

More important still is the venue. Offaly looked very good in the opening round against Longford as they racked up 2-21, most of it from play, and Longford certainly didn’t do their formline any harm with their win over Down at Páirc Esler. However O’Connor Park is a very big pitch – it shares the same dimensions as Croke Park, though many people don’t realise it. Cusack Park is some 1500 square metres smaller, and St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge is 600 square metres smaller again.

Offaly’s strengths right now are pace and energy, while as a younger, less conditioned team, battling in tight spaces won’t suit them, least of all against a powerful, athletic team like Kildare. The Faithful County have lost the last five league and championship games they’ve played against their neighbours and it would be a huge surprise if that number wasn’t pushed out to six tomorrow evening.

Advised Bets:

Under 34.5 points between Galway & Roscommon at 5/6 with Paddy Power (Nap)

Under 1.5 goals between Waterford and Tipperary at 10/3 with Bet365

Kildare (-2 points) to beat Offaly at 5/4 with Boylesports