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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Dublin can show their All-Ireland champion class

Donegal look doomed at Croke Park after two defeats

Diarmuid Connolly is one of a number of superb subs that Dublin could spring from the bench
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Dublin v Donegal
Premier Sports 6.50pm Saturday

Donegal look doomed as they head to Croke Park to face All-Ireland champions Dublin.

They have already suffered two defeats and have no Michael Murphy and a gameplan that looks lost in translation. The six-point handicap should be brushed aside with little fuss. 

Dublin have scored 4-30 in their two Division 1 wins, an average of 21 points per game, and it feels like they have yet to accelerate out of second gear, never mind try third or fourth.

They trailed by two points at half-time against both Kildare and Tyrone but early second-half surges have quickly put the issue beyond doubt. Dublin have players fighting for positions, such as Michael Daragh McAuley, who felt he got a raw deal in 2017 and has a point to prove.

They have unearthed gems in Brian Howard and Niall Scully too and seasoned campaigners Brian Fenton and Dean Rock have started the year strongly. 

New Donegal boss Declan Bonner is at pains to prove that the 2012 All-Ireland champions can play an attacking brand of football but something seems missing  and they could be in for a long night at Croke Park if they are too adventurous.

They conceded 2-18 against Kerry and 1-12 to Galway so defensive issues are at the forefront of their problems. A wide-margin home win looks in store, especially if Bonner again has to make do without Murphy, Neil McGee, Frank McGlynn and Paddy McGrath. None of them have played in the league so far.

Neighbours Meath and Cavan are sitting pretty with three points after two games in Division 2 but on a strict line of form through Clare this should be a comfortable success for the Royals.

Cavan drew with the Banner boys, whereas Andy McEntee's men dished out a 0-21 to 0-7 hammering last Sunday. It may not be so simple, though, as there was a lot to like about Cavan's second-half showing against Louth.

They have Cian Mackey back firing on all cylinders and Gearoid McKiernan made a welcome appearance as a substitute in the wide-margin win over the Wee County so is in contention for a starting spot.

With the benefit of home advantage, Cavan are fancied to maintain their unbeaten record and 3-1 about them leading at half-time and full-time looks generous. 

Meath's first-half displays against Roscommon and Clare have been pretty poor. They trailed at the break in round one and led 0-6 to 0-4 at halfway in the 14-point demolition last Sunday. 

If Cavan can sneak in front early, as they did against Louth, they are a tough team to peg back given the numbers they get behind the ball. 

Cavan never looked like conceding a goal against Louth and the 17-10 Paddy Power are offering about another clean sheet is worth taking. 

Carlow have exploded from the traps in Division 4 with wins over London (2-14 to 2-9) and Limerick (2-11 to 0-13) giving them maximum points. 

They have made giant strides in the last 12 months and look great value at 5-6 with Ladbrokes to defy a five-point handicap against lowly Leitrim who have lost both their outings and are rooted to the foot of the table. 

Dublin -6
2pts 5-6 bet365
Dublin over 1.5 goals
2pts 10-11 Betfair, Paddy Power
Cavan/Cavan double result
2pts 3-1 BoyleSports
No Meath goal
1pt 17-10 Paddy Power
Carlow -5
2pts 5-6 Coral, Ladbrokes

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Declan Bonner is at pains to prove that Donegal can play an attacking brand of football but something seems to be getting lost in translation
E.W. Terms
Sky bet