Lonesharkoy looks ahead to the weekend football and he has a strong bet on Offaly and likes Kildare to beat Derry.
Offaly vs Antrim
It is the week of the Junior and Leaving Cert exams, so it’s entirely appropriate that this column makes reference to Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, which was the novel on the syllabus the year this writer took on the second paper of the English exam.
For those who are unaware, the main plot of the story is how a lawyer (Atticus Finch) in Alabama in the 1930’s is required to defend an innocent black man, accused of violent crimes against a young white woman. In the lead up to the trial, a lynch mob is formed by some local townspeople with a view to killing the accused man while he sits in his cell, but the mob is defused by the innocence and naivety of Finch’s six-year-old daughter when she happens upon the scene.
Later, Finch agrees to one of the mob making up part of the jury for the trial. His reasoning is that “There’s no difference between one man who’s going to convict and another man that’s going to convict, but there's a faint difference between a man who's going to convict and a man who's a little disturbed in his mind”.
Thankfully, events in O’Connor Park will have no racist undertones, but a parallel can still be drawn. These two counties both had disappointing league campaigns, they both went into the championship without lots of key players for a variety of reasons, and they both produced very poor displays in their provincial games. So far, so similar. However while both counties tended towards disfunction for the past few months, Offaly have addressed that disfunction by inserting a new and widely-respected management team, and they could be capable of showing an improvement in form in time for the qualifiers. Even the return of John Moloney and Brian Darby, two mature, capable and senior players who will be in good states of fitness, is enough to swing the balance here.
To paraphrase Atticus Finch, there’s no difference between one team that’s set to go nowhere in the qualifiers and another that’s set to go nowhere, but there is a faint difference between one clearly that’s not at the races and another that might just have sparked a little bit of life into themselves.
With a home draw, with a plethora of players back on board on the bench as well, and with a real sense of having turned over a new leaf, Offaly are arguably the bet of the weekend this week, even allowing for the huge number of games taking place.
Offaly at 4/6 with BetVictor and Paddy Power
Derry vs Kildare
The whole country, including this writer, has fallen in love with Carlow football. Their wholehearted, devil-may-care approach on the field and the festival atmosphere they bring to the terraces is pure joy, but that shouldn’t take from the bare facts of what happened in Tullamore a fortnight ago. They got 15 scoring chances and took 16 of them (their first goal wasn’t even a chance really, it was a long range free that went in untouched).
Even if we say it was 16 from 16, that’s unprecedented economy. Kildare, for their part, shot 13 wides, and while they had a poor game, they still could easily have got very close in the second half. They were second best, but they weren’t as far off as some of the doom-mongers would have you believe.
Stock market wisdom states you should never try to catch a falling knife, which means that you don’t jump in on a stock that’s in freefall. That’s all very well, but Derry are having a shocking year too, and one of the two teams has to come through – both knives can’t keep falling. And since it’s easier to excuse defeats when seven of them came in division one of the league, and none of those were hammerings, we’ll take the Lily Whites here.
Some would even argue that when your backs are to the wall like that, a long road trip can be a galvanising thing – and that’s just one more reason why Kildare are the logical play here.
Kildare at 5/6 with BetVictor and Paddy Power