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Tribesman top value to follow up their 80s double

The three-time All-Ireland winner gives his thoughts

Galway players celebrate with the Liam MacCarthy Cup
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Kilkenny are coming together nicely based on what we saw in the latter stages of the league. There is no doubt they’re a good team but the big worry for the Cats is their reliance on TJ Reid. He has been outstanding this season and I’ve never seen one man have such a big an influence on a team as he did on this year’s league campaign. Without him we are not contenders but they’re a hell of a team with him in the side.

In saying all that, I still feel that Galway will make it back-to-back titles as they did in 1987 and 1988. They have the best team in the country, got the monkey off their back last year having been under serious pressure and can be more comfortable in their own skin now. They are not dependent on Joe Canning any more.

I wouldn’t pay attention to their league displays. They have at least eight forwards – six of whom are over 6ft – who are brilliant hurlers and good in the air.

They tick all the boxes and I think 11-4 is a great price. Come the first weekend in August you could be sitting on a good bet – they could be evens by that stage.

Tipperary came out the wrong side of a brilliant semi-final last year which could have gone either way but the spine of their defence at present is a big worry.

Ronan Maher was centre-back two years ago and had a fantastic season but now it seems that they’re not looking at him in that role anymore. Corner-back Cathal Barrett is being viewed as a midfield option and full-back is the big worry for me. James Barry has done well but doesn’t look a natural in that position and at this level you can’t have any weakness.

I just wonder whether they really know their best team, especially up through the middle and the defence, because they definitely have the talent. The forward line of Forde, Callanan and McGrath shows some serious ammunition – they’d be the equivalent of Liverpool’s front three in hurling terms.

Tipperary head the Munster market at 5-4 and that doesn’t seem right to me, in fact it looks bad value. They are favourites but no way should they be that short. It’ll be a competitive championship but the value is Limerick at 11-2.

This is their second year with their management team in place, they’ll have the Na Piarsaigh contingent back and their Under-21 teams in recent years have impressed me. They have a panel capable of seeing out this six-week spell.

For some reason full-backs are becoming scarce in hurling all of a sudden and the outstanding player in that position over the past few years has been Daithi Burke, who is value in the Hurler of the Year betting. If I’m envisaging Galway winning the All Ireland, they should have the award winner in their line-up and their whole unit is built around him.

Should Galway meet Kilkenny or Tipperary in an All Ireland final, a duel between him and Seamus Callanan would decide the game.

Richie Leahy is one I have in mind for the Young Hurler of the Year award. Good ground is important to him, to use a racing analogy, and I think he’ll take off this summer. He has great pace in the middle of the field and half-forward line, with my only concern being that he’s no bigger than 4-1.

I think Seamus Callanan will take the frees for Tipperary this season despite the presence of Jason Forde so I wouldn’t take the price about Forde in the top scorer market. It’s hard to get away from TJ Reid and Joe Canning.

Recommendations
Galway to win All-Ireland SHC
2pts 11-4 general
Limerick to win Munster
1pt 11-2 general
D Burke Hurler of the Year
1pt 33-1 Paddy Power
R Leahy Young Hurler of the Year
1pt 4-1 Paddy Power


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Tipperary came out the wrong side of a brilliant semi-final last year which could have gone either way but the spine of their defence is a worry
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