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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Progressive Cavan could be surprise packages in Ulster

Tipperary and Mayo set for provincial success

Gearoid McKiernan is an outstanding talent for Cavan
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Provincial preview

Ulster
Tyrone should be odds-on to retain the Ulster crown they claimed so easily in 2017 and it's difficult to argue with the prices about them retaining their title. But much better value is the 9-1 about Mickey Harte’s men meeting Cavan in the provincial decider.

Tyrone’s toughest test in Ulster is their first as they meet a Monaghan side who were not far away from reaching the Division 1 decider in the league after a shaky start. If they come through that, a tussle with Armagh or Fermanagh awaits.

The preliminary round in Ulster is on Sunday as Donegal welcome Cavan to Ballybofey. The layers have chalked the hosts up at 2-5 but that is on the skimpy side and the Breffni boys could surprise a few people in 2018.

It is hard to believe that a team who will start 2019 in Division 2 are so short to dispose of a side who will start in Division 1. This Cavan outfit are improving fast and constantly underrated.

Their defensive style has evolved into a more attractive, counter-attacking system and they have never had more talented forwards. Niall Clerkin, Adrian Cole and Caoimhin O’Reilly are not household names but all three enjoyed superb springs and could cause a fragile Donegal defence problems.

Add into the mix the lively Dara McVeety and the outstanding Gearoid McKiernan and you have a Cavan side capable of causing shocks.

If they upset Donegal on Sunday, they will be short-priced favourites to overcome Derry in the provincial quarter-final and they wouldn’t have much to fear from Down or Antrim in the Ulster semi-final.

Recommendation
Tyrone and Cavan to meet in Ulster final
1pt 9-1 Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power


Michael Quinlivan continues to perform at the highest level

Tipperary ready to go a long way this summer

Munster
The draw has been kind to Tipperary in Munster as they take on whipping boys Waterford in round one, a Cork side severely lacking in confidence in the provincial semi-final before getting a crack at Kerry in the Munster final if things go according to plan.

This Tipperary side are operating at a higher level to Cork. Only a last-gasp smash-and-grab raid from Cavan deprived them of promotion to the top tier of the league and a place in the Division 2 decider.

They were comprehensive 3-16 to 1-16 winners over Cork when the sides met in round one of the league and that tie was in Pairc Ui Chaoimh too.

Michael Quinlivan continues to perform at the highest level and Tipperary have a set of forwards that is the envy of a lot of counties in the championship. They are a side going places and as recently as 2016 they reached an All-Ireland semi-final having easily accounted for Galway in the last eight.

They bumped into Tyrone in the qualifiers in 2015, while last season they exited at the hands of Armagh having seen off Cavan in impressive fashion in an earlier round of the qualifiers.

There will be little in the betting between Tipperary and Cork when they meet in the Munster semi-final and if the Premier County win that they have two chances to reach the Super 8s.

Asking them to get the better of Kerry might be a bit much but they should take care of whatever the final round of the qualifiers throws at them.

Banking on Tipperary to reach the last eight of the All-Ireland championship looks a wager worth investing in.

Recommendation
Tipperary to qualify for Super 8s
2pts 7-4 Paddy Power


Home comforts to help Mayo reclaim crown

Connacht
Don’t you dare start planning Mayo’s funeral. Stephen Rochford’s battle-hardened troops can bounce back once again in 2018 and claim a 47th Connacht title. They are well used to ripping up obituaries.

There seems little point in backing Mayo at 5-4 to win Connacht, though, and it makes more sense to take the 11-10 about them beating Galway by two points or more in Sunday’s crunch clash in Castlebar. That takes Roscommon completely out of the equation.
Lee Keegan and Cillian O’Connor are major doubts for Sunday but that has been factored into the prices and Mayo have enough strength in depth to cope with the absence of that deadly duo at this stage.

Recency bias seems to have affected punters. Galway were 4-1 to win Connacht in March, now they are half that price. They enjoyed a terrific league campaign which saw them reach a Division 1 decider but Mayo treated the league with little respect and were contend to stay afloat.

Conor Loftus looks ready to make the breakthrough from bit-part player to starter and he showed glimpses of brilliance during the league. Expect a big 2018 from him in this Mayo attack.

Mayo are at their best when they have a point to prove. They lost all three of their home matches at MacHale Park in the league this season and were beaten there by Galway in the 2016 Connacht championship so they will be keen to halt that horrible home record.

Galway appeared to put everything they had into the league and may have peaked too early. Mayo might have timed their run better.
Roscommon are a threat to whoever wins on Sunday but for now backing Mayo to defy a one-point handicap on Sunday looks the best wager.

Recommendation
Mayo -1 v Galway
3pts 11-10 BoyleSports 


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Cavan's defensive style has evolved into a more attractive, counter-attacking system and they have never had more talented forwards
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