Lonesharkoy weekend GAA betting preview and his best bets are Dublin on the handicap against Westmeath and Donegal to beat Tyrone.
As a general rule, big handicaps don’t usually appeal to me. Far too often the well-being of your bet depends on how motivated each side will be, long after the result has been decided. And while this anomaly can come into play with any bet, there are far too many occasions where the “correct” side loses out in large handicap situations.
What is meant by the correct side losing is that the game might play out a certain way, justifying a selection one way or another, but a couple of late scores change the result. Perhaps the best example of that in my own betting history was a league game between Offaly and Dublin in Parnell Park in March of 2006, where I backed Offaly plus three points. It wasn’t until the 57th minute that Offaly finally scored – but three late goals were banged in by Ciarán McManus, leaving the final score Dublin 1-10, Offaly 3-2. It was farcical and I got paid, but never have I been more incorrect in my selection.
However one trend from Dublin’s games this year (and generally) is that the late swing is almost always in their favour. The reason for this is simple – Dublin aren’t exceptional in their skills or gifts, but they are incredibly consistent. They do the right things, perfectly well, at a high tempo for 75 minutes or more. They don’t beat you with moments of magic; they beat you by simply being as good as they can be, all the time. Consequently, teams can hold on to them for a while – but they get burnt out. The engine inside a Meath, Kildare or Westmeath team can’t run at 5000 rpm for a full game, but Dublin’s can. Hence the metropolitans win games with plenty to spare. They outstay their opponents without necessarily having an awesome top speed, as they did against Meath (at the risk of overplaying the analogy!)
Last year Westmeath did well to hold them to thirteen points, but that was a very different Westmeath team. They came into the game in excellent form after three excellent wins, their game plan surprised Dublin to a certain extent, and they had their best players on the field. This year John Connellan is injured, they’ve scraped into the final against Offaly and Kildare – two teams that played infinitely better in Newbridge last weekend – and instead of just being relegated to division three, they’ve been relegated to division four. Admittedly Dublin are down a few key players too, but they don’t seem to have felt the loss of McCaffrey and O’Carroll to the same extent.
Going against habit, this looks like the right time to get stuck into the big handicap. Dublin -14pts at 10/11 with Paddy Power is our main bet this week.
Up North, Boylesports are going out on a limb by offering 21/10 about a win for Donegal and frankly, we’re inclined to take them up on their offer. This writer was one of many pundits that was hugely impressed by Tyrone during the National League and they’ll certainly benefit for getting that extra game against Cavan - but they’ve still had huge problems playing Donegal over the past few seasons. Moreover, both of these sides like to counterattack, and to play the game at a real high tempo, using quick restarts etc. Logic would suggest that this should favour the younger Tyrone side, but the other side of that argument is that Tyrone will effectively be looking to take on Donegal at their own game, which will, naturally, bring its own serious risks.
The standard of play in the two games between Donegal and Monaghan was deceptively high, even if Monaghan’s subsequent exit from the qualifiers might have betrayed the value of that form a little bit (though to look at it from the other aspect, it’s not as if Cavan pulled up any trees against Carlow either). The six day factor was huge for both of those Ulster teams so we’re still going to take the Donegal performances on their merits – and they look to be of real value.
Tyrone have every chance here, and if the odds were 4/5 vs 11/8, no bet would be the call – but at 21/10, we simply have to take a position.
Dublin (-14 points) to beat Westmeath at 10/11 with Paddy Power
Donegal to beat Tyrone at 21/10 with Boylesports