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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Time for Tyrone to prove their class in relegation tussle

Galway and Fermanagh can claim wins too

Tyrone's Niall Sludden challenges Jack McCaffrey of Dublin
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From 2pm Sunday

The gulf in class in class between Tyrone and Kildare is not reflected in the market for their Division 1 showdown at Newbridge where the visitors look terrific value at 10-11 to defy a one-point handicap. 

The clash has been billed as a relegation four-pointer as both sides have lost their first two outings in the top tier but Tyrone could still qualify for the Division 1 decider, while Kildare looked doomed and set for a swift return to Division 2. 

Tyrone are among the top four teams in the country. Kildare would just about sneak into the top ten. That is based on what happened in the 2017 championship and too much has been read into the Ulster men's slow start to the league. 

They played the vast majority of their opening game away to Galway with 14 men, while they succumbed to Dublin in the second half last Saturday night having led the All-Ireland champions by two points at half-time. 

In his post-match interview, Mickey Harte said he believed his side would have got something out of the game last Saturday had they been playing anyone but Dublin given how well they played. There can be no excuses this time. 

Harte is finally giving the hugely-exciting Lee Brennan a chance to prove what a talented attacker he is as he lines out in the full-forward line alongside Cathal McShane and Connor McAliskey. That trio have scores written all over them. 

It looks a shrewd move by Harte to push his namesake Peter Harte up to wing-forward and, with Niall Sludden and Conor Meyler also in attack, it is hard to envisage a Kildare defence, who have conceded a total of 3-27 in their two losses to date, coping with such attacking flair. 

Kildare needed to come out on top in their crunch clash with Monaghan to have any chance of survival in the top tier and it is hard to envisage them keeping their heads above water following that minimum-margin loss. 

Kildare's half-back line, which contains Johnny Byrne and Cian O'Donoghue, looks vulnerable and that is the area where Tyrone are strongest. 

This is a game that neither team can afford to lose, but Tyrone are given another chance to prove their class and a comfortable success for the visitors looks on the cards. 

Galway have been the surprise package of Division 1, seeing off Tyrone and Donegal to claim maximum points from their first two outings. 

Mayo have stumbled their way to two points from their opening two matches but they have not played well in either outing and were lucky to bag maximum points from their opening-day trip to Monaghan.

They were outplayed for long spells of their loss to Kerry and that 1-15 to 2-9 loss was all the more disappointing when you consider that the Kingdom played a lot of the second half with just 13 men. They are finding life tough without Lee Keegan and could be vulnerable once again.

Damien Comer has been playing a captain's role at full-forward for Galway and his presence could do serious damage to a Mayo full-back line who conceded 1-15 to Kerry. Galway should be favourites at home and can make it three wins from three.

Rory Gallagher has made the best possible start to his time at the helm of Fermanagh and last Sunday's wide-margin win over Offaly was another step in the right direction. 

They travel to Sligo for round three and looks decent value at odds-against to win by two points or more. 

Tyrone -1
4pts 10-11 general
Tyrone -6
1pt 9-2 BoyleSports
Tyrone over 1.5 goals
1pt 2-1 Betfair, Paddy Power
Galway -1
1pt 17-10 Betfair, Paddy Power
Fermanagh -1
1pt 11-10 general

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Tyrone are among the top four teams in the country. Kildare would just about sneak into the top ten
E.W. Terms
Sky bet