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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Leitrim can keep hot favourites honest in Connacht contest

Tipperary are a good bet to beat Cork

Ciarain Murtagh (right) is part of a dangerous Roscommon full-forward line
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Leitrim v Roscommon
Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada, 5.30pm Saturday

Leitrim's extra-time success over New York appears to have been taken with a pinch of salt by bookmakers with Ladbrokes offering as big as 25-1 about a home success in the semi-final of the Connacht championship. 

Fancying Leitrim to cause a major shock against Division 2 league champions Roscommon might be a bit far-fetched but it is worth backing the hosts to keep within a generous 11-point handicap. 

Had this game been at Dr Hyde Park, you would expect Roscommon to defy such a handicap but Leitrim up their game in Carrick-on-Shannon and they have a bunch of talented youngsters who have moulded nicely into the side. 

They were given a mighty scare in the Big Apple but that was not your usual New York side as they fielded a whole host of inter-county stars, including Jamie Clarke. Perhaps that success has been undervalued. 

Roscommon put their heart and soul into the league and secured promotion to the top flight. Their might suffer something of a hangover from that thrilling Division 2 decider and Leitrim can give them a scare. 

Roscommon are the better side but a five or six-point win would do them just fine so get on Leitrim with an 11-point start.

Recommendation
Leitrim +11 
3pts Evs Hills

 Westmeath v Laois Tullamore, 5pm Saturday

The market for this Leinster showdown has altered dramatically with news of John Heslin's injury seeing Laois assume favouritism. 

Not only are Westmeath without their most influential player, but the lively James Dolan is also an absentee after jetting off to the States. Those are two big blows and the Midlanders may not have the reserves to cope. 

Laois should be out of the Leinster championship. Wexford have them beaten twice, yet they somehow managed to keep their heads above water. 

That smash and grab raid is sure to give Laois confidence and they are fancied to book a ticket to the provincial semi-final. 

Westmeath arrive after a heavy O'Byrne Cup final defeat by arch rivals Meath, despite playing much of that contest with an extra man, and they could be set for more woe.

Recommendation
Laois 
2pts 4-5 general

Down v Antrim Newry, 7pm Saturday

Given that they home advantage, Down will probably escape unscathed from their Ulster showdown with Antrim but the visitors are worth a nibble at a big price.

They did not qualify for the Division 4 final, but they won four of their six outings, drew another and suffered just one defeat. 

Down were relegated to Division 3 and confidence must be at an all-time low in the Mourne County. There is a sniff of an upset in the air.

Recommendation 
Antrim
1pt 11-2 BoyleSports


Tipperary v Cork Semple Stadium, 7pm Saturday

Bookmakers cannot split Tipperary and Cork for their Munster clash but the hosts should be favourites and evens looks a great price. 

Tipperary have a settled team who blossomed in Division 2, whereas Cork have a bunch of talented individuals who have yet to gel. 

This is Tipperary's big chance to book a Munster final ticket and, with forwards such as Michael Quinlivan at their disposal, do not expect them to fluff their lines.

Recommendation
Tipperary
2pts Evs general


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It is worth backing the hosts to keep within a generous 11-point handicap
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