Ulster Senior Football – Cavan v Armagh Preview

Lonesharkoy previews the Ulster Senior Football Championship match between Cavan and Armagh and despite thinking Cavan will win, Seanie Johnston for first goal is the bet.

We’re working with slim pickings this weekend here at BetSWOT as the intercounty schedule is very light, due in no small part to Bruce Springsteen filling the slots at Croke Park that were supposed to be occupied by Dublin, Kildare and Wexford. Based on what we saw last Saturday evening at Croke Park, all we can say is that we hope the Boss offers his fans a little bit more by way of entertainment.

Given the result between the two counties in this year’s Allianz League, it’s the 11/10 on offer in places about Cavan beating Armagh by three points or more that will probably be the most popular selection of the weekend. However this column remains somewhat unconvinced by the Breffni County – at least in the context of an Ulster championship fixture like this, where they haven’t really put their best foot forward in recent years. There is no doubt about the fact that right now Armagh are in very bad shape and the absence of Jamie Clarke from their forward line leaves them woefully short on class in that sector, but there is a porousness to this Cavan defence that is entirely out of kilter with what we’d expect from a side that many people believe could be a dark horse in the race for the Anglo Celt cup.

Killian Clarke is a fantastic all round footballer who could put in a 7/10 performance in any position on the field, but full back is a specialist position – all the more when he’s covering for a debutant corner back in Padraig Faulkner. Yet these doubts pale into insignificance when compared with the uncertainty surrounding Armagh’s back line, where any one of five players could yet be in line to fill the full back and centre back slots.

It’s not at all impossible that Gearóid McKiernan could run riot through the middle and that Seánie Johnston could end the game with a half dozen scores from play in that context, but there will be much better chances to back short priced favourites this year and we’re going to bide our time and wait for those opportunities. Instead, have a small nibble on Johnston getting the game’s first goal at a decent price.

The former Coill Dubh hurler isn’t everybody’s idea of the ideal GAA role model after he chose to move to Kildare briefly in search of success. However it could also be argued that since he travels with so much baggage, the case to bring him back on board must have been overwhelming if the project was seen as worthwhile. After all, if he was only fractionally better than the next best option, Terry Hyland would surely have taken the path of least resistance. Instead he plumped for Johnston, and the fact that three of Cavan’s eight goals in the national league came from the corner forward would back up that assertion. He’s available at 7/1 with Bet365 and Boylesports to score the first goal here and that’s a reasonable way to have a small flutter this week, while keeping our powder dry for busier weekends ahead.