Monaghan should have too much class for Laois

Lonesharkoy looks at two of the last 12 matches in the All Ireland Qualifiers and has bets on Monaghan against Laois and Enda Smith unders in Roscommon v Armagh game.

Monaghan vs Laois

At the start of the summer, Carlow were flying and the division four form started to look reasonable. However Tyrone showed up exactly how far off the pace Carlow really are in a championship context, and we suspect that Monaghan will do the same to Laois this Sunday afternoon in Navan.

One disappointing loss to Fermanagh in a strange Ulster championship game saw the Farney county condemned to the relative obscurity of the qualifiers and if you want to step back into the limelight, games against Waterford and Leitrim aren’t going to be of much use to you. Fixtures of that nature are a surefire guarantee that outside of your own hardcore supporters, all anyone will see is three minutes of highlights on the Sunday Game, of which twenty seconds will be footage of the away side getting off a bus.

Still, all Monaghan could do was easily swat aside both of those teams, and they did exactly that – and nothing that has happened so far this year would suggest that Laois are anything other than a middling division three side. Let’s remember this is a team that was good enough to beat Waterford and Leitrim by four and six points respectively in the league – comfortable, but not a thrashing.

This writer is a fervent opponent of the idea of tiered competitions at intercounty level, but it’s as simple as this – if there were senior, intermediate and junior grades for county football, Laois would be a good junior side while Monaghan would be a middling senior outfit – their disappearance off our radar for a few weeks doesn’t change that. On that basis, there’s only one possible result this Sunday. If Laois get goals, they might come close to staying within the six-point spread, but our gut feeling is that 1-18 to 0-11 or similar is the type of score that we should expect from Páirc Tailteann.

Recommendation

Monaghan -6pts @ 11/10 at Paddy Power and Betfair

Roscommon vs Armagh

Armagh became the latest team to add to this column’s list of injury time woe this summer, following on from Tyrone’s late goal against Monaghan and Galway’s goal against Mayo. On the match betting front, Betway’s 4/6 about a Roscommon win stands out like a sore thumb and should be punted if possible, but we’re not naïve enough here on BetSWOT to believe that most readers on this site will be able to get a decent bet on there.

However there is another way to attack this game. In ten competitive games this year involving Roscommon, seven times the points total has been in the thirties or higher. In all seven of these cases, Roscommon has won six and drawn the other (a 2-12 all game against Meath in the first round of the league). In the three games where the total was low, they won one (an 0-15 to 0-13 win over Cavan at Dr. Hyde Park) and lost the other two.

In a nutshell, this Roscommon team likes shootouts, and they thrive in them. Ironically, though their forwards get all the good press, it’s in the attacking sense that this team is streaky. Defensively, they’ve conceded 0-10 against Leitrim, by far the easiest opponent they faced all year, and between 12 and 16 scores in every other game.

However a game against Armagh – who also seem to fare best in open, attacking encounters, should see both teams go toe to toe and throw caution to the wind. Neither side does caution very well, so it’s as well to go down swinging.

Those who grew up watching Armagh teams where Kieran McGeeney was on the field instead of on the sideline will find it hard to get their heads around this, but there is value in the over 35.5 totals line, priced at 4/5 with Boylesports.

However that’s not the best value bet of the day by a long chalk.

Paddy Power have priced Enda Smith’s total points at 8/11 for under 2.5. The Boyle man is beginning to come back into some form after struggling to match his 2017 performances for most of the year, but even as Roscommon have posted up some big numbers this year – 1-21 against Louth, 4-16 against Cavan, 1-17 against Tipp, 2-19 against Clare, 0-24 against Leitrim – Smith has yet to score more than two points in any game.

He’s always capable of scoring a goal, but he’s 9/2 to score a goal at any time. Yet Paddy Power Betfair – the same firm offering that 9/2 – make him 8/11 to score under 2.5 points or even money to go higher. That would suggest they make it at least a 32% chance that he raises at least three white flags. Frankly, 5% would be more accurate in that regard.

Smith is capable of playing as a target man full forward, but he’s far more effective running from deep. Yet as Clare showed last week, Armagh’s vulnerability is not runners coming through, it’s snipers close to goal. This game is made for Donie Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh, Ciaráin Murtagh and Cathal Cregg, not Enda Smith, who will be far better served trying to win some primary ball and then offloading in the tackle, or drawing out players to around 35 metres from goal and then popping handpasses to his shooting colleagues inside.

It’s not that he can’t kick a point, but it’s not the high percentage play with him. 8/11 about under 2.5 points is incorrect and should be punted.

Recommendations

Enda Smith to score under 2.5 points @ 8/11, Paddy Power Betfair.

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