There’s nothing quite like provincial finals. Well, excluding the Leinster senior football final – but look, we have to bear that burden of hype yet again and hope it doesn’t turn us sour.
Thankfully, Dublin’s inevitable procession follows two very tasty-looking clashes, as Offaly and Sligo battle it out for the back door route to get within touching distance of Sam Maguire, while Cavan and Donegal contest a fascinating Ulster final.
So strap yourself in, switch on the telly and lash into this treble to land you in the money.
I very nearly tipped up the 7/2 on Sligo turning this one over, but the handicap is that nice bit of insurance you need when Sligo travel to Tullamore.
The disparity in prices is alarming, given that Offaly only avoided relegation to Division 4 alongside Sligo on the last day of the league campaign. Granted, Sligo were turned over in each of their outings, but they’re no four-point underdogs, especially as their Division 3 meeting saw just a point between them.
Adrian Marren might fancy a matchup against a weak enough Offaly backline, and if they can come out of the blocks early, then this handicap should be covered with relative ease. Of all prices given this weekend, this one surprised me the most.
Jim McGuinness’ fingerprints are still all over this team, and an Ulster final, of which he won three, lands just a week after he was sacked by a mickey-mouse soccer team in the US. Perhaps McGuinness isn’t the messiah everyone thinks he is; perhaps the DNA of a Donegal side is inherited and not constructed by a well-spoken bloke from Glenties.
Cavan’s rise to this level has been steady, which is refreshing when you consider the inconsistency that engulfs both codes at this level. Progressive development through youth ranks are now bearing fruit and while they’re forced to step outside the comforts of Kingspan Breffni Park, their Division 1 status this year will have taught them a big lesson.
But some of the Donegal outfit have played in eight Ulster finals. They know Clones like they know Ballybofey, and that will stand to them here as the hype Cavan will have to contend with in the build-up will consume an inexperienced crop.
Honestly, what is the point?
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, or a cover version of some elements of the Irish media when I complain about these events, but honestly – ‘split Dublin in two’? Split it into six and they’ll still be competitive.
Aside from that, the outcome of this Leinster final boils down to whether or not Dublin remember they’re on autopilot. Never before has there been such a gulf between one team in the country and the remainder. Almost to the point where provincial finals are exhibition bouts before the Super 8s.
You’ll need a bet to watch this, unless you’re from Ballybough, and even then you won’t feel good about it when the Dubs notch up the scores to land your gamble.
- Offaly v Sligo: Sligo +4 (10/11)
- Donegal v Cavan: Donegal -3 (10/11)
- Dublin v Meath: Dublin -12 (EVS)
A €/£1 treble on the above selections pays €/£6.29 with Paddy Power.
Odds correct at time of posting, but subject to change.