National Hurling League – Rebels to upset Cats

Lonesharkoy previews the National Hurling League and he has a bet on Cork to beat Kilkenny and a treble on Wexford, Mayo and Westmeath - both with Boylesports.

When Kilkenny hurl Tipperary in recent years, the story tends to be the same every time – the two sides put in a ferocious effort, entertaining the fans in the process, but nine times out of ten the Cats come out on top one way or another.

The Kilkenny-Cork rivalry has a very different dynamic, one in which the Rebel County have taken some heavy beatings and yet at the same time been able to record some notable victories over their Black and amber counterparts. Nothing about Cork’s form so far this year would suggest that this would be anything other than the former at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday and yet at 4/1 in spots, one would be tempted to have a second look at the Rebels here.

Ostensibly, there was nothing to like about their performances so far this year. However the simple fact of the matter is that in 2016 Kilkenny’s attack is simply not operating to the standards that we’ve come to expect. In fact they are the lowest scoring team in the division and that’s after playing two games at home. Admittedly Cork have the worst defensive record in the division by a country mile, but they are the type of side that could nab a goal or two even while playing badly, and on this occasion that might push them very close. This one is purely based on pricing and there is every chance that the Cats could make us look foolish, but 4/1 about Cork with Boylesports is our main selection this week.

For our second wager we’re going to stay with hurling and go down a route that we wouldn’t normally take; recommending a multiple bet – Mayo, Wexford and Westmeath all to win their hurling ties at odds of just under 6/5 with Boylesports.

As we go down the divisions in hurling, the gaps between top and bottom grows ever larger, even in groups of just six counties. All three of these teams are priced between 1/3 and 2/9 however it’s hard to see any of them being beaten this week.

Offaly have a terrible record in Wexford – historically this fixture always went to the home team, unless it was played in Croke Park (where Offaly would probably prevail) or Nowlan Park (which heavily favoured Wexford). They got hammered down there again this year in the Walsh Cup and while there were some analysts who said that they hurled well for long stretches against Limerick, it was a heavily understrength Limerick side who were still always in control of the contest. Wexford’s dignity was stung by the decision of TG4 to show their contest with Kerry live, since it hinted at the television station’s belief that the Kerry side would push them to the wire. The Model County quickly shot down that notion and if they keep their spirits up this week, they’ll add a second successive title.

Westmeath have continued their progress under Michael Ryan this year and while the Liam McCarthy Cup is likely to still be a tall order for them, they are a long way ahead of a Kildare side that are definitely the whipping boys in Division 2A. Westmeath have already beaten Antrim, Carlow and London – results that Kildare could only dream about – and anything other than an away win here would be the biggest shock of the year so far.

Finally we have Mayo against Wicklow, a fixture that has historically been tight enough but should be easily won by Mayo this week. The Westerners have improved considerably year on year and against a misfiring Wicklow side that’s racking up red cards week in and week out against some very ordinary opponents, they should be able to keep their form going and guarantee their place in the 2B league final.