Lonesharkoy previews the Leinster Hurling Championship on Saturday and he likes Westmeath to beat Kerry and Offaly to run up a big win over Carlow.
Westmeath’s landslide win over Offaly has dominated the airwaves over the past week. However the coverage has been somewhat one-sided, with almost all the focus centred upon the decline in the fortunes of the Faithful County.
Without doubt there are huge issues in Offaly and last Sunday’s result represented a new low for the four-time All Ireland champions. However the other side of the coin – the excellent hurling produced by Westmeath – has largely been glossed over.
Of course we’re not about to lose sight of the fact that this is a Westmeath team that was a distant second best in the promotion/relegation playoff against Laois, but the drier ground clearly suited their mobile, energetic style of play and they’re entitled to feel confident in advance of tomorrow’s trip to Austin Stack Park.
The betting in that Tralee fixture illustrates how the bookmaking community have certainly bought into the notion that last Sunday’s result was more about Offaly’s failings rather than Westmeath’s ability, while our view is that both factors were significant. Ladbrokes have actually pushed Westmeath out to 2/1 this morning and while Kerry are probably worthy of slight favouritism here, a gap of that size really doesn’t make sense – in fact that looks like the kind of price we might have seen if Westmeath had competed well with Offaly but ultimately lost by a couple of points.
All across the middle third Westmeath’s energy and purpose was impressive last Sunday and while a lot of scores were tacked on at the end when Offaly were chasing the game, one could also argue that if Westmeath had been awarded a goal in the first half when the sliothar appeared to bounce bag into play off James Dempsey’s bag of hurls, or if Killian Kiely had seen red for his altercation with Gary Greville before half time, then they could have been out of sight anyway. Westmeath to win at 2/1 with Ladbrokes is our main recommendation this weekend, although the handicap might also appeal to backers of a more cautious nature.
Westmeath to beat Kerry at 2/1 with Ladbrokes
Handicap option is 11/10 about Westmeath +2 - also with Ladbrokes
Kerry’s favouritism is also a concern for Offaly themselves, who now find themselves in a situation where winning their last two games might not be enough to salvage their season, given the hammering that their scoring difference took in Mullingar. A narrow win over Carlow is unlikely to suffice in the event of Kerry winning against Westmeath so expect Offaly to chase a big win here. Of course there’s a world of difference between chasing a big win and actually getting it, but if there is any kind of sting in their tail, we’ll surely see it in O’Connor Park tomorrow. All four players that have been called in by Eamonn Ryan look capable of improving the side and in a tie with plenty of volatility, we’re again drawn to Bet365’s winning margin markets. 16/1 about Offaly winning by 13-15 points and 20/1 about Offaly winning by 16 or more works out at a combined price of around 8/1 and that looks decent, on the basis that they badly need to rack up the scores in this one and that Carlow are probably the weakest side in the Liam McCarthy Cup by some margin.
Offaly to win by 13-15 points at 16/1 with Bet365
Offaly to win by 16 points or more at 20/1 with Bet365