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Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Do not expect replay to be as entertaining as drawn encounter

No goals looks a decent bet

Lee Keegan: has been ill for the last few weeks so you could see a much-improve display from last year's Footballer of the Year
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All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay
RTE1, Sky Sports Arena, 3pm Saturday

Eamonn Fitzmaurice underestimated the damage Mayo's full-forward line could cause last Sunday but do not expect the Kerry manager to make the same mistake twice and the knock-on effect could be a lower scoring and less entertaining encounter in this All-Ireland semi-final replay at Croke Park. 

There is some 4-6 available about this showdown featuring fewer scores than the drawn encounter (40 points) and that looks a cracking bet given the likelihood that Kerry will adopt a less adventurous approach.

Fitzmaurice set up his side to flood the midfield battle zone last Sunday in the belief that Shane Enright could handle Andy Moran and that the out-of-form Jason Doherty would give him very little to worry about. How wrong he was.

Both of those had their best games of the campaign, thanks in no small part to the oceans of space in front of them. Cillian O'Connor also got three points from play. Such freedom is usually very scarce in the latter stages of the football championship so do not expect it to become the norm.

Good managers learn from their mistakes and Fitzmaurice will surely deploy a sweeper this time. Their defensive set-up should be much more vigilant and Moran, Doherty and O'Connor will struggle to get 1-10 between them on this occasion.

Congesting the middle third of the field worked for Kerry to a certain extent but getting more bodies in and around the D will be more beneficial. Any defender would struggle with 30 yards of space in front of him so it was no surprise to see the usually superb Shane Enright in all sorts of trouble. That surely won't happen again.

Fitzmaurice introduced Jonathan Lyne and Jack Barry at half-time and both of those had a positive impact. That pair would give Kerry more legs in the areas that matter and it would come as little surprise if both were used from the start on this occasion.

While Kerry's naïve defensive system was found out, so too were their forwards. Paul Geaney looked dangerous at various stages but James O'Donoghue does not look fully fit and went out of the game in the second-half. Johnny Buckley went in and out of it too and perhaps this Kerry attack is not as exciting as we originally thought, especially when missing Donnchadh Walsh to create chances for them. 

There were four goals in the drawn match but all four of those were down to individual errors and could have been prevented. The slippery conditions played a part and a drier afternoon on Saturday will take luck out of the equation. 

Kerry kept two clean sheets in their three matches en route to the All-Ireland semi-final, while Mayo kept clean sheets against Sligo, Galway, Clare and Roscommon in the All-Ireland quarter-final replay. 

Kerry have conceded 10 goals in their 12 competitive matches between league and championship, while Mayo scored only two in seven league outings. They conceded four over the same period. Stephen Rochford's charges have got 14 goals in their eight championship outings prior but four of those arrived against Roscommon in the quarter-final replay.

If Kerry give their full-back line more protection, Mayo will surely struggle to carve open goal opportunities. It could be a similar story at the other end and it is hard to resist having a little nibble on no goals at 10-1 with BoyleSports. 

The 12-5 available about under 1.5 goals is a safer play and worth taking too. 

Mayo started brilliantly last Sunday, an Andy Moran goal setting them on their way, but they are notoriously slow starters and play their best football when faced with adversity. 

With that in mind, it would come as little surprise to see Kerry make much of the early running and lead at half-time. Mayo love having something to aim at and, if they are to win, it could be from an uncompromising position when their backs are to the wall. 

Much was made of the decision to ask Aidan O'Shea to keep tabs on Kieran Donaghy but the duel between Lee Keegan and Paul Murphy was just as intriguing, arguably the two best players on the pitch. 

Murphy came out on top in that duel last Sunday but Keegan was ill, suffering from a stomach bug and had been on antibiotics. Expect to see a much improved performance from the 2016 Footballer of the Year this time and he will hold his own. 

With Keegan's energy back, he should be able to have more of an influence up front and that could see Murphy pinned back deep into his defence more often. 

It was not until added time that Murphy got on the scoresheet last Sunday and he might not get a score at all this time, given that Keegan is likely to be back to himself and Kerry are likely to adopt a more defensive approach. 

Paddy Power are offering 5-4 about no Murphy score and that is worth snapping up. 

A Mayo win from behind, with no goals, less than 40 points and no Murphy score would be the ideal outcome!

Recommendations
Kerry/Mayo double result
1pt 13-2 BoyleSports
Under 39.5 points
4pts 4-6 BoyleSports
Under 1.5 goals
2pts 12-5 general
No goals
1pt 10-1 BoyleSports
Paul Murphy to score under 0.5 points
2pts 5-4 Paddy Power

There is some 4-6 available about fewer scores than the drawn encounter and that looks a cracking bet
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