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Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Fermanagh fancied to give Farney Army a fright

Clare struggles against Kerry all set to continue

Conor McManus is one part of Monaghan's deadly duo
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Fermanagh v Monaghan
Healy Park, 2pm

The Farney Army return to Omagh, the scene of their impressive triumph over Tyrone in the Ulster quarter-final, to face Fermanagh but passing this exam might be a little more difficult than the betting suggests. 

Monaghan's 1-18 to 1-16 success was aided by the flawless free-taking of goalkeeper Rory Beggan and Conor McManus who accounted for 0-10 between them.

Vinny Corey’s superbly-taken goal late in the opening half was also a turning point as Tyrone had been the better team up until that stage and it meant Monaghan went in at half-time in front and had the breeze at their backs in the second period. 

You got the impression that Monaghan's whole campaign was geared towards that tussle with Tyrone and they put every last drop of energy into getting a result. There was no rustiness or lack of intensity and they produced by far their best 70-minute display that we have seen in the championship so far. 

The big question is whether they can reach that level of intensity two weeks later in a showdown that is less glamorous? They are not underdogs this time and come into the tie as long odds-on favourites. Surely, they will have one eye on an Ulster final date with Donegal and that could be dangerous. This is a Fermanagh side who cannot afford to be taken for granted. 

Rory Gallagher has made giant strides since taking over at the helm of Fermanagh, securing promotion to Division 2 despite a narrow reversal in the Division 3 decider at the hands of Armagh.

They got revenge for that league final loss in the quarter-final of the Ulster championship on a 0-12 to 0-7 scoreline. Having Sean and Seamus Quigley up front gives Fermanagh some serious potency and they should not be underestimated.

The fact that Fermanagh conceded only 0-7 and controlled the game so easily tells you all you need to know about their defensive system. It works well and has the potential to frustrate Monaghan too.

Fermanagh had the best defensive record in Division 3 where they conceded only 78 points in their seven group games - an average of just 11 points per game.

With that in mind, Monaghan might struggle to get to 19 points so the advice is to back them to score under 18.5 points.

Given the prospect of a low-scoring encounter, Fermanagh are fancied to keep within a six-point handicap and it would come as little surprise to see them set the early pace too so the 7-2 available about them leading at half-time appeals. 

Fermanagh +6
3pts 4-5 general 
Fermanagh to lead at half-time
1pt 7-2 Betfair, Paddy Power
Monaghan under 18.5 points
2pts 4-5 Ladbrokes, Paddy Power

Kerry v Clare
Fitzgerald Stadium, 3.30pm

There is an unusually sombre mood in Kerry ahead of their championship opener with Clare but the buzz could return with a wide-margin win on home soil at Fitzgerald Stadium. The advice is to get on the hosts to prevail by eight points or more. 

Kerry huffed and puffed in the league, rarely looking the finished article, but they were in transition mode and expect to see a different Kingdom outfit here.

Clare have not beaten Kerry in the championship in 26 years and their record against the Kingdom in the championship is awful.

When these sides met 12 months ago, six points separated the teams and it could be even more straightforward this time. 

It is hard to envisage Clare keeping a full-forward line of David Clifford, Paul Geaney and James O'Donoghue quiet and there is plenty of talent in reserve too with Kieran Donaghy named on the bench. 

The likes of Jack Barry and Sean O'Shea add a nice blend of youth to the Kerry side and they could issue a statement of intent, seven days after Dublin destroyed Wicklow by 23 points.

Kerry -7
3pts 8-11 Boylesports, Coral, Ladbrokes
Kerry over 1.5 goals
2pts 5-6 Paddy Power

Galway v Sligo
Pearse Stadium, 3.30pm

Galway's style of play makes it hard for them to destroy teams so Sligo with a nine-point headstart in the handicap market is worth taking. 

Reports from the Yeats County suggest that Sligo have been blossoming in recent challenge matches and there was a lot to like about the way they disposed of London with the minimum of fuss in Ruislip. 

This could be a low-scoring and cagey affair so get on Galway to score 20 points or less and it is hard to resist the 7-2 on offer about no Galway goal.

Sligo +9
3pts 8-11 general 
Galway under 20.5 points
2pts Evs Ladbrokes 
No Galway goal
1pt 7-2 BoyleSports

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The big question is whether Monaghan can reach that level of intensity two weeks later in showdown that is less glamorous?
E.W. Terms
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