It’s do or die for both of these counties following heavy defeats in the opening phase of the Super 8s against Kerry and Donegal respectively. Kerry vs Mayo was dubbed as the clash of the entire Super 8s,, but it proved to be something of a non-event with Kerry cantering to a comfortable victory.
Last Sunday was the day that Kerry’s championship sprang into life, while Mayo’s fell to pieces. It now appears that promising wins over Armagh and Galway in the qualifiers were false dawns and that Mayo are on the brink of elimination at the quarter-final stage.
Meanwhile, Meath’s heavy defeat at the hands of Donegal panned out almost exactly as expected. The Leinster runners up have enjoyed a decent year, winning promotion to Division One of the National League and reaching the All Ireland quarter finals for the first time in nearly a decade, but it seems as though their race is now run.
They just don’t have the depth to compete with three top pedigree teams at the business end of the championship and it showed last Sunday. A strong performance against Donegal for the opening 50 minutes was rendered utterly irrelevant by a disastrous final quarter which saw them outscored by 1-08 to 0-01.
Worryingly for Meath, something similar happened against Dublin in the Leinster final as a credible six-point defeat quickly turned into a 16-point mauling as they completely imploded. If something similar happens against a Mayo side with their backs against the wall, Meath could find themselves on the end of another heavy defeat.
The handicap spread for this one is just three points – but we feel Mayo will win more convincingly than that.
Verdict: Mayo (-5) @ 13/8.
Undoubtedly the tie of the round, the clash between the champions of Munster and the champions of Ulster looks like deciding who is best placed to dethrone Dublin. Kerry’s season had been underwhelming until their accomplished 10-point win over Mayo in Killarney last Sunday.
The Kingdom out-thought and outfought a team that has so often gotten the better of them in recent league and championship meetings and fully merited the 10-point win. Their forward line looked exceptional and is as dangerous as any in the country. David Clifford, Seán O’Shea and Paul Geaney contributed 1-16 between them, with Clifford in particular playing a starring role.
The Fossa forward was virtually unmarkable as he kicked seven points (five of them from play) and he continues to look like he is worth the hype which has accompanied him since his fledgling days at minor. The 22-year old was the star of Kerry’s bleak showing in last year’s Super 8s with his fine goal against Monaghan granting Kerry a stay of execution from the championship and preceding a personal haul of 2-06 against Kildare which ultimately proved irrelevant.
In what is bound to be an open game against a Donegal side that have as many lethal forwards as Kerry do, Clifford is sure to find space in the Donegal back-line and is good value to find the back of the net.
*Prices correct at time of publishing