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Sunday 10 December 2017

All the logic points Down

ULSTER SFC SEMI-FINAL

DOWN v MONAGHAN

(Athletic Grounds, Tom, 2.0, Live RTÉ 2)

THE slope gets much, much steeper for Down from here on in. An undercooked Fermanagh team with an inflated billing caused them few of the problems many had anticipated in the first round, but Monaghan should at least test the outer extremities of their abilities ahead of an Ulster final with one or other of the province's big two.

And a test is really all it should be. Monaghan, like Down, never ignited in beating Antrim in their own opener but still managed to pull out a victory in fairly trying circumstances.

As such, Eamon McEneaney's team selection reflects a bad performance but an important win last time out. No less than four players from that day are dropped, with captain Darren Hughes the most noteworthy addition to the Farney line-up.

The others; Drew Wylie, Peter Dooney and Kieran Hughes possess just a handful of Championship appearances between them so McEneaney is hardly plumping up his team with proven performers.

Benny Coulter and Dan Gordon remain absent for Down but there is, at least, hope that a successful negotiation of tomorrow's match will grant them sufficient time to be able to play some part in the Ulster decider. And on all known form and logic, it's bound to be Down who qualify.

ODDS: Down 8/13, Draw 7/1, Monaghan 7/4

VERDICT: Down

p ALL-IRELAND SHC PRELIMINARY ROUND

WEXFORD v WESTMEATH

(Wexford Park, Tonight, 7.30)

YOU wonder what exactly Liam Dunne made of Galway's crushing win over Offaly last weekend, particularly against the backdrop of his own team's failure to beat the latter in their Leinster joust a couple of weeks back.

Westmeath, on the other hand, represent the perfect stepping stone back into the Championship and despite their current lull, the Model men should advance with a degree of ease.

ODDS: Wexford 1/14, Draw 22/1, Wesmeath 15/2 VERDICT: Wexford

p ALL-IRELAND SHC PRELIMINARY ROUND

LIMERICK v LAOIS

(Gaelic Grounds, Tonight, 7.30)

THE initial giddiness of the big-name appointment of Teddy McCarthy to Laois has well and truly subsided and for the Cork man and, indeed, his team, reality checked in with a bang against a rampant Dublin outfit in Tullamore three weeks back.

Limerick, meanwhile, will still feel they could and perhaps should have beaten Tipperary in Munster but until such time as they finish a tight game strongly, Ciarán Carey's sentiments about their fitness will remain a talking point.

ODDS: Limerick 1/50, Draw 33/1, Laois 10/1

VERDICT: Limerick

- CONOR McKEON

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