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Monday 11 December 2017

Expect fireworks in 'big two' tie

ALLIANZ NFL DIVISION 1

TYRONE v KERRY

(Omagh, Tonight 7.30, live Setanta Irl)

The hobbling heavyweights get ready to rumble in Healy Park. Who would have imagined that the winners of the last seven All-Ireland titles would square off in the penultimate round of the league with neither safe from the grim spectre of relegation?

Of the two, Tyrone are clearly in greater peril and their fate could be sealed by another defeat here. No wonder, then, than Mickey Harte has made another raft of changes -- seven in all -- and he's hoping that Sean Cavanagh's first start of 2010 will belatedly kick-start their season.

Even with Cavanagh back, though, there are no guarantees. It looked as if Tyrone had turned a corner with that fortuitous victory over high-flying Cork, but they could have no complaints with their follow-up defeat by Galway. The 2008 champions are still playing in fits and starts; during one second-half period in Tuam they reeled off five unanswered points but they couldn't sustain it.

Kerry also appeared to be back on track with their back-to-back victories over Derry and Galway, but their lethargic display against Mayo last weekend has reopened some old worries about how the champions will cope without Diarmuid, Darragh, Tadhg, Tommy and probably Mike Mac too this summer.

Apologies for the fence-sitting but this is one difficult result to call. The safest prediction: expect fireworks.

ODDS: Tyrone 4/5, Draw 15/2, Kerry 5/4

VERDICT: Draw

Win will see the Rebels put a foot in decider

DERRY v CORK

(Celtic Pk, Tonight 7.30)

Anyone who watched Derry tear into Tyrone on the opening night of the season must be totally bemused when looking at the league table now; the Oak Leafers lost their next four outings and even home advantage -- against Mayo -- proved of negligible benefit.

Damien Cassidy must hope that the Celtic Park factor kicks in tonight because their current form is a million miles removed from the football that Cork are playing right now.

Even the seven-point margin of defeat against a previously struggling Monaghan doesn't tell the full story: Derry reeled off the last four points when the game was long over. The previous night Cork had won more or less as they pleased against the previously unbeaten Dublin -- content to take the foot off the pedal in the second half as the visitors played a damage-limitation game.

Whenever a team travels from one end of the country to the other you can never be sure how they'll perform getting off the plane or bus. But Cork know that a win here will leave them with one foot in the final.

ODDS: Derry 5/4, Draw 15/2, Cork 4/5

VERDICT: Cork

Monaghan to suffer for Mayo's final surge

MAYO v MONAGHAN

(Castlebar, Tomorrow 2.30, live TG4)

Mayo's form on the road has been so compelling that, by rights, they really should qualify for the final. Yet that one costly loss -- at home to Dublin -- could well come back to haunt them, especially if they should flounder at home again here.

On form, John O'Mahony's men should be good enough even though we can expect another typically defiant Monaghan performance in McHale Park. The aforementioned defeat by Dublin left many sceptics wondering if we could expect more of the 'same old, same old' from Mayo this year, but they have responded in magnificent fashion with those back-to-back wins in Derry and Kerry.

Conor Mortimer's four-point salvo coming off the Tralee bench was one of several positives for O'Mahony to ruminate over. He may be infuriating at times, but Mortimer remains one of the best finishers in Mayo and he could have a big role to play tomorrow, especially given the injury doubt over Alan Dillon.

ODDS: Mayo 4/9, Draw 15/2, Monaghan 9/4

VERDICT: Mayo

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