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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Mayo could outmuscle arch rivals in crunch Connacht clash

All-Ireland finalists can start season in style

Mayo's Conor Loftus in action against Donegal
1 of 1

Mayo v Galway
MacHale Park, 4pm Sunday

This is the equivalent of Manchester United clashing with Liverpool at Old Trafford. 

Galway are the sexy side who punters love latching on to. They are the new kids on the block who caused a series of shocks on their way to taking on Dublin in the Division 1 league final. 

Mayo are supposedly finished. Their best days are behind them and a spell in the doldrums lies ahead. Or so we are led to believe. That might not be the case, though, and the hosts are fancied to end their recent hoodoo against the Tribesmen. 

If this develops into an open, high-scoring encounter then you should expect Galway to prevail with Damien Comer, Barry McHugh and Shane Walsh running riot, but the layers have set the total points spread at just 30.5 which tells you what type of game they are expecting. 

This should be a war of attrition between two arch rivals. Scores will be at a premium and much of the game is likely to be played in the middle third of the pitch. 

While Mayo's recent history in Connacht nothing special, when their backs are to the wall in must-win games they have produced the goods. This is a massive match for Mayo and it will set the tone for their season. 

They will not want to go down the qualifier route and the shortest path to the Super 8s is definitely in their best interests. 

Galway threw everything they had into the league and almost won it. Mayo put nothing into it and just about kept their heads above water. 

This game has probably been mentioned for months in training by Stephen Rochford and Mayo should go into it all guns blazing. 

Mayo kept a clean sheet despite losing out to Galway by the narrowest of margins in the Connacht semi-final 12 months ago and they should be backed to keep the Tribesmen out again. 

They did not concede a goal against Sligo in Connacht either or Clare in the qualifiers and also kept clean sheets in the replay wins over Roscommon and Kerry. They do not usually concede goals in big games and that trend can continue. 

Kevin McLoughlin had the audacity to shoot from way out to try to earn Mayo a draw against Donegal in their final league match. The shot sailed between the posts and it restored Mayo's status for another season in Division 1. 

This sort of game is made for McLoughlin. He can pick up scraps around the middle and, should he send over a few scores, odds of 16-1 about him receiving the RTE man of the match award will look generous. 

No Galway goal
2pts 5-4 Coral, Ladbrokes
Kevin McLoughlin man of match
1pt 16-1 general
Already advised (May 11)
Mayo -1
3pts 11-10 BoyleSports

Donegal v Cavan
Ballybofey, 4pm Sunday

It seems strange that the side who will start 2019 in Division 1 are 11-4 against a side that will start 2019 in Division 2.

The betting suggests that this should be all one-way traffic in Ballybofey as hosts Donegal are 2-5 to win in 70 minutes but there is far less between the sides than the betting implies.

Cavan impressed throughout their Division 2 campaign with Niall Kilroy and Dara McVeety catching the eye. They are playing a more attractive style of football and, if this game was in Breffni Park they would surely be no bigger than 2-1 to land the spoils. This has all the ingredients of an upset in Ulster.

McVeety is an injury doubt due to a hamstring tear in the league final but he might win his fitness race and if he does, Cavan could emerge with the spoils. 

1pt 3-1 BoyleSports, Coral, Ladbrokes

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The layers have set the total points spread at just 30.5 which tells you what type of game they are expecting
E.W. Terms
Sky bet