Laois can make early statement of intent
Don't rule out underdogs in final football qualifier at Pairc Tailteann
Laois v Monaghan
Pairc Tailteann, 2pm Sunday
The last of the football qualifiers is the most straightforward according to the bookmakers with Monaghan heavily odds-on to book the last ticket to the Super 8s at the expense of Laois.
There is no doubting Monaghan have been operating at a higher level than Laois over the last few years, and the chances are that they will outclass the O'Moore men when it comes to the crunch, but Malachy O'Rourke's side may not have it all their own way.
Laois posed Dublin plenty of problems in the first half of the Leinster final and it would come as no surprise to see them make a bright start to this qualifier clash in Navan.
A lethargic first-half display from Monaghan cost them a spot in the Ulster final as they allowed Fermanagh to make the running and Leitrim popped over two early points last Saturday, so O’Rourke’s charges have a habit of breaking sluggishly from the traps.
If Laois are to have any chance of causing an upset a big first-half performance is a must and they look decent value to lead at half-time.
Laois have been one of the surprises of the season having reached the Leinster final with victories over Wexford (2-21 to 1-18 after extra-time), Westmeath (4-13 to 1-12) and Carlow (0-12 to 0-8) and for 25 minutes of the first half they gave as good as they got against Dublin in the provincial decider.
Monaghan have had problems coping with long balls into their full-back line and were unable to deal with a Hail Mary into Eoin Donnelly when Fermanagh found the net in the closing stages of the Ulster semi-final.
Expect Laois to try to exploit that weakness and don't be surprised to see Donie Kingston deployed on the edge of the 'square' at various stages. That's a tactic that could work against this Monaghan side.
Monaghan have steadied the ship since entering the qualifiers with wide-margin wins over Waterford (5-21 to 0-9) and Leitrim (1-19 to 0-9) and they deserve to be long odds-on to book their ticket to the Super 8s.
That said, Laois could lead at half-time and it is worth taking the 40-1 about them leading at half-time and the game ending in a draw after 70 minutes. It could be that tight.
Laois to lead at half-time
1pt 7-2 Betfair, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power
Laois-draw double result
0.5pt 40-1 Paddy Power
Follow us on Twitter @racingpostsport
Like us on Facebook RacingPostSport