Saturday, Kildare v Tyrone: Kildare to lead at half-time – 2/1
Kildare have been doing all their best work in the first half of their matches this season and with the noisy Newbridge crowd behind them, expect the Lilywhites to lead at half-time. Kildare were in cruise control at the halfway mark against Wicklow in their Leinster opener, easing into a 0-09 to 0-04 lead and they were 1-12 to 1-08 ahead at the change of ends in their drawn encounter with Longford. They also led by three at the same stage in the replay.
They trailed Dublin by only four points, 0-11 to 0-07 at half-time, and the interval scoreline could have made for more pleasant reading had Ben McCormack converted a glorious goal chance in the opening period.
They galloped into a seven-point half-time advantage in their Qualifier win over Antrim last Saturday and it is worth noting they also led Meath by five points at the interval when the sides met at Navan, a game they went on to lose by a point. There has been absolutely nothing wrong with Kildare’s first-half displays this year – it has been their performances after the break that have been less impressive.
This Tyrone side have done so much strength and conditioning that they tend to finish games strongly, as we saw in their Donegal defeat, so expect them to do their best work late. Kildare to lead at the break looks a great bet.
Saturday, Mayo v Armagh: Armagh to win – 11/4
Given Mayo are without captain Diarmuid O’Connor and Matthew Ruane it is hard to resist having a nibble on outsiders Armagh. O’Connor broke his wrist at training on Tuesday and he will be a massive loss to a Mayo side who didn’t deserve to be as short as they were even before the news broke.
Mayo look vulnerable because Armagh are at their best as underdogs and when not much is expected of them.
The favourites’ tag weighed heavily on The Orchard County against Down, when they stumbled over the line in extra-time, but they outplayed Cavan for long periods of their drawn Ulster semi-final and some would say their Monaghan mauling was the best display of the Kieran McGeeney-era. They’re always dangerous underdogs though, and Armagh have something Mayo don’t – two natural scoring forwards at the peak of their powers.
Rian O’Neill has been a revelation this summer, while Jamie Clarke remains one of the most dangerous attackers in the game. Add Stefan Campbell into the mix and James Horan has three hugely talented attacking aces to try to contain.
Sunday, Limerick v Tipperary: Tipperary to win – 11/10
There is absolutely no doubt that Limerick were the best side around in 2018, but Tipperary have been the top team in 2019 and for that reason, it is hard to fathom why they are not clear favourites.
They have scored an incredible 8-101 in their four round-robin games in the Munster Championship and that winning mentality should stand them in good stead. Seamus Callanan is working harder than ever and that sets the tone for the rest of the squad.
Jason Forde, John McGrath and John O’Dwyer are on fire this season too, and I thought Tipperary were full value for their four-point win over Limerick a fortnight ago.
Yes, there was a lot of shadowboxing going on, but it is not just Limerick who have a few gears to go up, Tipperary do too.
* All odds correct at time of posting and may vary up to throw-in.