Lonesharkoy looks at the Leinster hurling clash between Dublin and Offaly and is betting on a big Dublin win.
Dublin vs Offaly
After a bitterly disappointing outing against Wexford last Saturday evening in Tullamore, optimism in the midlands is in short supply as the Offaly hurlers prepare for their biggest game of the year – a one off clash with Dublin where the losing side will be condemned to Joe McDonagh Cup hurling in 2019, now that any chance of a Kerry win in the second tier competition has been swept off the table.
This was widely expected to be the lie of the land going into this game from the moment the fixtures were laid out, and much of Offaly’s optimism stemmed from a strong league campaign, in particular the team’s win over Dublin at Croke Park.
However that wonderful January night is a long time ago now, and it would be foolish to ignore how fatigued Kevin Martin’s looked last weekend. The contest was settled long before Seán Gardiner became the first of three Offaly players to receive a red card, so it wasn’t just the numerical disadvantage that caused Wexford to run riot, it was the fact that David Fitzgerald’s side were able to play the game at a pace that blew Offaly away. When we consider that the same Wexford team struggled to beat Dublin at home in their previous contest, it’s clear to see that Offaly and Dublin are in a very different place right now.
Conal Keaney returns to the lineup for Dublin, Offaly continue their habit of throwing in a mystifying selection choice by leaving Shane Dooley on the bench, and there are other reasons to fancy Dublin – but none bigger than this. In this new format, fatigue and injuries is a real issue. For years, footballers have railed against being asked to recover from a championship defeat in seven days, and now hurlers are being asked to recover from a run of them, week after week. That’s why scheduling is crucial – and this year’s schedule did Offaly no favours whatsoever. Dublin have had a week of rest, while Offaly’s week off comes in week five, where it’s of no use whatsoever. If this game starts to get away from Offaly at all, it could get lopsided very quickly – 2/1 Dublin minus 11 points is a solid play as a result.
Dublin -11pts, 2/1, Paddy Power