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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Geaney looks at the top of his game right now

Barry has been a real find in midfield for Kerry

Kerry and Dublin players after the All-Ireland semi-final
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Dublin are hot favourites to retain their All-Ireland title but are they too short?

Patrick Aherne Paddy Power
Yes. They pretty much fell over the line against Kerry and Mayo on their way to retaining their title last year and I am convinced that they will be a bigger price when it gets to the business end of the Championship.

Matty Forde Former Wexford star
Yes. I do fancy Dublin but I wouldn’t be loading on them at 6-4 as I feel there are about three or four teams capable of going all the way. It is not as clear-cut as the betting would make you believe.

Darren Hughes BoyleSports
No. A massive 60 per cent of the stakes are placed on Dublin at 11-8 at this early stage so perhaps they should be even shorter. They will probably only have to meet either Kerry or Mayo this year as opposed to both in the last two years. That should make things a tad easier for them.

David Jennings Racing Post
Yes. They are not as far ahead of the pack as the betting suggests. They stumbled over the line last year and I am not convinced that the current side is as good as the one which won the All-Ireland in either 2013 or 2015. You have simply got to take them on.

Jim Parker Ladbrokes
I would say that their price is probably fair enough despite their league final defeat. They are approximately 1-8 to reach the last four and one defeat in 37 league and championship games is a formidable form line.

Which of the top teams could struggle in 2017?

PA I’m not so sure I buy into the Tyrone hype. They look very short with a tough draw in Ulster and they are still lacking a natural scoring forward.

MF Tyrone. I think they are lacking scoring power up front and could pay the price when it comes down to the business end of the championship.

DH Mayo will probably have more of a struggle getting to the All-Ireland semi-final than Dublin or Kerry as Galway will be tough nuts to crack in Connacht. In saying that, it would be a shock to me if any of the big three miss out on a semi-final slot.

DJ Mayo. Everything went in their favour last year, including taking the scenic route through the back door which allowed them to fine-tune their new defensive system, and they still could not get over the line. I’d be shocked if they returned to the All-Ireland final. Donegal are another side who could exit a lot earlier than many expect.

JP I really expected Tyrone to kick on over the past few years but it just hasn’t worked out for them. They look as hard to break down as ever but their game plan in attack hasn’t evolved enough. They’ll struggle to beat both Donegal and Monaghan in Ulster.

Who would your picks be in the Player of the Year and
top-scorer markets?

PA Paul Geaney is at the top of his game and has become Kerry’s main forward. There is so much cannon fodder in Leinster for Dean Rock that he will be hard to catch for top scorer once again.

MF I am a big fan of Kerry’s Paul Geaney, so he would be my pick for Player of the Year. It is very hard to look beyond Dean Rock for top scorer. He is ultra-reliable from frees but he has been contributing more and more from play as each year goes on.

DH It is between the top three so I’ll take one from each county – Paul Geaney of Kerry, Brian Fenton of Dublin and Mayo’s Patrick Durcan. The top scorer looks a straight shootout between Dean Rock and Cillian O’Connor. They will finish first and second and it is just a matter of picking the right order.

DJ Tyrone might just be a ticking time-bomb ready to explode and Niall Sludden is a player who caught many an eye. His pace posed Dublin all sorts at problems and he looks value in the Player of the Year market. The top-scorer race looks between Dean Rock and Cillian O’Connor, with slight preference for the latter at the prices.

JP Generally forwards are priced shorter than other positions but the only attacker to win the award in the past five years is James O’Donoghue. David Moran and Paul Murphy are both decent shouts. For top scorer I’d expect a shootout between Dean Rock and Cillian O’Connor with Dublin’s easier provincial route giving Rock the nod.

Give us one player who could take the championship by storm this summer?

PA Jack Barry nailed down a place for Kerry during the league and looks a real find at midfield for the Kingdom.

MF I will give you two – Jack McCarron of Monaghan and Ciaran Thompson from Donegal. Both of those are a joy to watch and look set to make a massive impact over the coming months.

DH The two players who I am looking forward to seeing most are Paul Geaney and Jack McCarron.

DJ Niall Sludden is a name that not everyone will know but expect to be hearing a lot more about him this summer. He looks all class and his pace will unlock a lot of defences. Donal Lenihan has a good league campaign for my home county Meath and I expect him to kick on. He has been exceptional for his club Dunboyne.

JP Outside of the big four, Shane Walsh has looked really sharp for Galway. If they could get their defence tightened up they could go really deep this year. For the main contenders, Jack Barry has been a standout performer in most games I’ve watched him in this year for Kerry. 

What is the best bet of the All-Ireland Football Championship?

PA I really fancy Monaghan to win the Ulster SFC and there are some generous prices available about them.

MF Mayo to win Connacht at a very generous 4-5 sticks out like a sore thumb to me.

DH Cillian O’Connor to be top scorer at the end of the campaign.

DJ Monaghan to get further than Donegal at a generous 5-4 with BoyleSports. The Farney army are blessed with two top attackers in Conor McManus and Jack McCarron and should reach an Ulster final. Donegal strike me as a team that will really struggle in 2017.

JP I initially thought Monaghan looked good for Ulster but much will depend on how quickly they get Darren Hughes back fit. Con O’Callaghan is way out in front in the Young Player of the Year betting but isn’t a guaranteed starter for Dublin so the 10-1 about Jason McGee could be excellent value.

Finally, who lifts the Sam Maguire and why?

PA Kerry suddenly look to have the depth to challenge Dublin and they would be my pick to go all the way at this stage.

MF Dublin. It might be boring but I just cannot look beyond them. I genuinely think that they will complete the

DH It’s boring but I think Dublin will. Do not be surprised if Donegal are knocking around in late August either.

DJ Tyrone. If Dublin are 6-4, there is no way Tyrone should be 9-1. They outplayed for long periods in the league and were unlucky to be knocked out by Kerry (semi-final) in 2015 and Mayo (quarter-final) in 2016. They are not far away and could give both Mickey Harte and Sean Cavanagh a glorious send-off. 

JP It is hard to see anyone but Kerry or Dublin lifting it. I’ll just side with the Kingdom, though. They’ve improved physically and tactically from last year and uncovered three or four championship newcomers from their league campaign.


I am a big fan of Kerry’s Paul Geaney, so he would be my pick for Player of the Year - Matty Forde
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