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Monday, 22 October, 2018

Take Tipp to triumph thanks to their greater goal threat

Galway look wrong favourites for All-Ireland semi-final

Seamus Callanan (left) is the spearhead of Tipperary's attack
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Sky Sports Arena, 4pm

Tipperary are the All-Ireland champions and beat Galway on the way to lifting the Liam McCarthy Cup in 2016, yet the Tribesmen are favourites for the eagerly-anticipated semi-final showdown at Croke Park on Sunday. They really shouldn't be. 

The layers might have read too much into the Division 1 league final which Galway won in a canter, 3-21 to 0-14, as it looked as though Tipperary were not tuned in for that early-season showdown.

It seems Tipp manager Michael Ryan has geared everything towards peaking in August. They have gradually gone through the gears and the way in which they disposed of Clare in the All-Ireland quarter-final suggests that they are finally ready to cut loose.

Galway and Tipperary have met twice over the past two summers on the semi-final stage, with the Tribesmen winning by 0-26 to 3-16 two years ago and Tipp avenging that defeat last August with a 2-19 to 2-18 triumph before going on to defeat Kilkenny in the final.

Ryan has recalled goalkeeper Darren Gleeson and corner-back Michael Cahill and both of those will add some vital experience to the Premier County. 

Much has been made of Tipperary's problems in the full-back line and Cahill's comeback will help to shore up that department, while there are big games brewing from both Ronan and Padraic Maher.

Tipperary's attack can see them book a ticket to another All-Ireland final. Overall, the Premier County have more dangerous forwards than Galway and, if Seamus Callanan, John 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer and John McGrath are all on song, it is hard to see the Tribesmen's full-back line coping with the talented trio. 

Callanan has been tormenting Galway for much of the last decade and it will be fascinating to see who Micheal Donoghue decides to place on the powerful full-forward. Perhaps Daithi Burke might be asked to tame the Drom-Inch attacker on this occasion.

It is Tipperary's greater goal threat which could prove the big difference. Galway got two goals in their emphatic success over Dublin which opened their Leinster campaign but they failed to find the net against either Offaly or Wexford afterwards. 

They popped over 33 points in the win over Offaly and 29 in the Leinster final romp, but they found it hard to carve open goalscoring opportunities in either outing and that must be worrying for Galway supporters. 

Conor Whelan is a star and his pace and cause has the potential to cause Tipperary problems, while Conor and Joseph Cooney have enjoyed terrific campaigns to date. 

Joe Canning has developed into the role of playmaker under Donoghue, but do not be surprised if he is deployed in a more advanced role at various stages of this semi-final showdown as he might fancy a crack at the All-Ireland champions' apparent fragile full-back line.

Tipperary scored 16 goals in their eight Division 1 league encounters despite cruising along in second gear for much of the campaign. Although they failed to find the net in the success over Clare, Tipp netted nine times in their previous four championship outings. 

BoyleSports are offering 13-5 about Tipperary netting three or more goals and that looks generous. They tend to create at least five clear-cut goal chances.

There is often value in the man-of-the-match market and Dan McCormack, a workhorse in the half-forward line, looks a huge price at 40-1. 

He had a terrific 2016 and was one of the key cogs in the Tipperary machine. He wins vital possession in the midfield battlezone and is undervalued. Expect him to be in the thick of things at crucial stages. 

There is always a chance that the award will go to a marquee player but McCormack is a better hurler than the odds suggest. 

As regards the final result, Tipperary are fancied to win by two points or more. They have more firepower up front.

Recommendations
Tipperary -1
2pts 13-8 BoyleSports
Tipperary over 2.5 goals
1pt 13-5 BoyleSports
Dan McCormack man of the match
1pt 40-1 Paddy Power

Tipperary are fancied to win by two points or more. They have more firepower up front
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