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Both of these teams have been relegated from Division 1 of the National League ahead of this Championship clash in Connacht. Galway were beaten in their relegation play-off by Monaghan, in was an absolute classic game. Meanwhile, Roscommon were dispatched to Division 2 by Armagh.
The score totals in their respective three regular League games tell a story of exactly where these counties are at the moment. Galway scored 51 points in those matches, but let in 71 at the other end. Roscommon had similar problems defensively, scoring just 47 and conceding 68.
Galway defeated Roscommon when the sides met in the League a few weeks ago and I expect that to be repeated on Sunday. The Rossies do have home advantage, but with only 500 allowed to attend due to current Covid restrictions, that doesn’t count for much. The current handicap is (-2) and at the price I’ll be backing that to happen.
Westmeath are certainly a bet here for a straight win at their current price and I reckon they’ll cover the two-point handicap on offer as well. Laois had a very poor National League campaign and were relegated to Division 3 by an equally disappointing Down side when they met in a play-off.
The Mourne County ran up a big score on Laois that day, and we all saw how limited Down are against Donegal last weekend. That should put Laois’ form into perspective, the just look like a poor team who are on their way down. It’s The Lake County all the way in this game.
Despite what the odds say, Longford have a huge chance of toppling Meath in this Leinster Championship clash. The handicap of eight points seems very wrong for this game, and I believe it’s a giveaway to Longford. Obviously, I want Meath to win given my connections, but Longford scored 25 points in their win over Carlow last Sunday and come into this match clearly on-song.
Meath have a lot of problems, even before this game throws in. They are nursing a couple of serious injuries to key players, while Brian Conlon and Conor McGill are suspended after being sent off in The Royals promotion play-off with Kildare in the National League a few weeks back. Andy McEntee could be missing about six of what would be termed his best starting XV for this match.
Anyone betting on this game should certainly be taking Longford (+8) here. It’s my bet of the entire weekend in fact, and I actually can’t believe the handicap has been set that high. They really do have the inside forwards – namely Rian Brady and Robbie Smyth – to cause Meath a lot of problems.
Armagh had a good enough campaign on their return to Division 1 of the National League. They won one, drew one and lost one. Meanwhile, they grabbed 54 points for and let in 55 against them.
Antrim, on the other hand, won all their games and were promoted from the bottom tier to Division 3 for next season. They are now under the management of Enda McGinley, the former Tyrone player who has three All-Ireland titles to his name. He seems to be doing a good job on The Saffrons as their improvement is clear to see. They are not in a position yet to take on the big guns in Ulster, but should be able to be at least competitive now.
I don’t believe The Orchard County can beat the big nine-point handicap available here. It’s just a bit much to get past and I fancy Antrim (+9) on Sunday. McGinley’s men had good wins in the League over Louth, Sligo and Leitrim, so they are on a bit of a high and that could help them in defending this handicap.
I watched the last two matches both of these sides played very closely. Offaly saw off Louth in extra time by 3-19 to 0-19 points, but the final score doesn’t tell the entire story of that contest. It was 1-15 to 0-18 at the end of 70 minutes, but Louth’s Sam Mulroy had a chance to win it in normal time and if he’d have done it, Offaly couldn’t have complained. I also though Offaly’s three goals in the game were all very fortuitous too.
I was also at the Kildare v Meath National League Division 2 promotion play-off in Newbridge. I was very impressed with Kildare for about 60 of the 70 minutes, but then they fell into a hole. They did have a few players go off injured that day, and their performance dropped alarmingly after that.
I still believe Kildare should win here though, and they are well capable of covering the six-point handicap on offer here too. Jack O’Connor has done a very good job with The Lillywhites, they are much better than they were last season and they should win well here to advance to the Leinster semi-final.
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