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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Scores could be at a premium in repeat of last year's All-Ireland final

David Jennings with the best bets for Saturday's matches

Cillian O’Connor will be missing from the Mayo side as he serves a suspension for his red card picked up against Galway
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Mayo v Dublin
Premier Sports, 7pm Saturday  

The last time Dublin played in Castlebar they posted their lowest scoring return of the Jim Gavin era. It was February 2016 and they managed to score only 0-9 in round two of the league. It was still enough to secure a two-point win. 

Dublin are renowned for racking up huge scoring totals but this could be one of those rare occasions where they need to scrap for success. 

Mayo come into the clash after back-to-back defeats at the hands of Kerry and Galway. They are not playing well and lacking confidence. The last thing Stephen Rochford will want is another drubbing so expect the Mayo boss to err on the side of caution. 

Rochford is also without ace attacker Cillian O'Connor who is serving a suspension for picking up a red card late in the loss to Galway. 

The best way to prevent Dublin from running riot is to match them physically and get numbers behind the ball. Mayo could try to play on the counter-attack and make the visitors work for every score. 

Temperatures are predicted to be freezing by 7pm and the pitch will be quite heavy so conditions could make scores harder to come by than is usually the case when these sides meet. 

If Dublin get to 15 points it could be enough to maintain their unbeaten record and that makes backing under 33.5 total points appealing.

Mayo have failed to score a goal against Dublin in the sides' last three league meetings and Rochford's misfiring troops have also failed to find the net in two of their three outings this year, so it is hard to resist the backing Dublin to keep a clean sheet.

Under 33.5 total points
3pts 5-6 Betfair, Paddy Power
No Mayo goal
2pts 11-8 Paddy Power

Monaghan v Tyrone
It might be foolish to read too much into Monaghan's surprise success over Kerry at Inniskeen last Sunday as the Kingdom produced an utterly inept display and paid the price. It was one of the worst Kerry displays of the Eamonn Fitzmaurice era. 

Monaghan now have four points from a possible six and they should be able to keep their heads above water in the top flight. 

The Division 1 table suggests that Monaghan have a better chance of reaching the decider than Tyrone but we have not seen the best of Mickey Harte's men yet and Colm Cavanagh's return to the fold could coincide with an upturn in fortunes. He is the one who makes Tyrone tick. 

When these sides met in the league last year, Tyrone ran out comfortable 0-14 to 0-10 winners and there is not enough evidence to suggest they have regressed enough for that result to be reversed. 

Harte has made six changes to the team who stumbled over Kildare and the presence of Michael McKernan, Ronan McNamee and Kieran McGeary in the starting line-up is encouraging. 

This is a must-win game for Tyrone. Do not expect them to fluff their lines.

Tyrone -1
2pts 6-4 Betfair, Paddy Power

Tipperary v Meath 
Cavan are always dangerous when allowed to build up an early lead and Meath were unable to lay a glove on them at Breffni Park last Sunday. 

There is no doubting that Meath were poor for long periods of that tie but perhaps too much had been read into the performance and it is worth backing them to lead at half-time and full-time against Tipperary in Thurles.

Andy McEntee knows that their Division 2 status is on the line should they lose and in recent years Meath have been able to react positively to heavy defeats. 

Cillian O'Sullivan is coming back to his best and there were glimses of promise from Eamonn Wallace last Sunday too. The visitors can register their second success of the campaign.

Meath-Meath double result 
2pts 13-5 BoyleSports

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Mayo have failed to score a goal against Dublin in the sides' last three league meetings
E.W. Terms
Sky bet