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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Carlow could score more than expected as champions return

Open game to see plenty of points

Diarmuid Connolly is one of a number of superb subs that Dublin could spring from the bench
1 of 1

Football
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All-Ireland champions for three of the last four years, Dublin are facing a side who failed to win a single match in Leinster for five years in a row.

That losing streak came to an end with a richly-deserved 2-17 to 2-13 victory over Wexford at Dr Cullen Park last month and, no matter what happens for the rest of the summer, 2017 has already been a success for Carlow.

However, BoyleSports are offering just 80-1 about Carlow beating Dublin by 16 points or more. That is one of the worst 80-1 shots you will find and Ladbrokes' quote of 250-1 about that outcome is much more realistic.

From a punting perspective, the key thing is that the game is not in Croke Park. That is massive and should not be underestimated.

Had Carlow been forced to dance with the Dubs on their own dancefloor it could have been a massacre. Some say it might still be but the game being in Portlaoise is a boost to Carlow and might see them stay in touch for longer than expected. 

Earlier this week you could back Carlow to score nine points or more at a shade of odds-on. That was massive value.

Carlow scored 2-17 in the win over Wexford, 3-11 in their Leinster loss to Louth last year and 1-17 in their victory over Wicklow in the qualifiers too. Even against Cavan’s blanket defence they managed to get 0-12.

That means they averaged 18.75 in their four championship outings in 2016. Obviously, they did not play a team of the calibre of Dublin but it still indicates that they have useful attackers who know where the posts are. The small pitch in Portlaoise will provide them with ample opportunities to shoot as well, no matter how good Dublin are defensively.

Paul Broderick was the star of the show in their win over Wexford, scoring ten points, and much of the responsible for scores will rest on the shoulders of the canny corner-forward. Brendan Murphy has long been the most talented footballer in Carlow and his contribution of 1-2 went a long way towards seeing off Wexford too.

Both of those will fancy their chances of tagging on a few scores and the fact that Broderick is so accurate from dead balls is worth noting too. He will pop over any free within 50 metres of the posts.

Dublin conceded 2-10 in the Leinster opener against Laois last year in Nowlan Park, and got 0-16 in their provincial opener in 2014 as well. The only team who have failed to reach double figures against Dublin in Leinster in the last four years were an ultra-defensive Westmeath side in the 2015 Leinster final. 

Carlow simply do not know how to use a blanket defence so expect them to play their usual open brand of football and hope that they can score enough to keep the scoreline reasonably respectable.

The Carlow points line is now 10.5 but that is a spread they should be able to surpass.

Surely Carlow's enthusiasm will see them explode from the traps and it will be a surprise if they trail by more than eight points at half-time.

Hard tackling and cynical fouling is not part of Carlow's CV so the 8-15 which Paddy Power are offering about no red card being shown is too generous. That should be much shorter given how one-sided the game is likely to be in the second half and referee Sean Hurson will not want to be in the limelight.

It could be worth having a wager on Carlow goalkeeper Craig Kearney received the man-of-the-match accolade at a massive 80-1. Given that Dublin are likely to create at least six gilt-edged goal opportunities, if he managed to save three or four of them he would come right into the reckoning.

Recommendations
Carlow over 10.5 points
2pts Evs general
Carlow +8 on first-half handicap
2pts Evs Paddy Power
No red card in Dublin v Carlow
3pts 8-15 Paddy Power
Craig Kearney man of the match
0.5pt 80-1 Paddy Power

Carlow scored 2-17 in the win over Wexford, 3-11 in their Leinster loss to Louth last year and 1-17 in their victory over Wicklow
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