Friday 15 December 2017

All-Ireland hangover is history as Kerry fizz


CORK v KERRY (Páirc Uí Rinn, Tomorrow 2.0, deferred TG4)

KERRY fans won't need reminding what happened in last year's corresponding league fixture: a ten-point humiliation in front of their own Tralee supporters.

Cork, for that matter, have not forgotten what transpired three months later, when they paid their farewells to the old Páirc Uí Chaoimh with an excruciating 12-point capitulation to Kerry in the Munster final.

What can we garner from the above? Firstly, home advantage doesn't count for everything in this fixture. Secondly, these ancient rivals have a tendency (not just last year) to throw up strangely lopsided results.

Tomorrow might be different in one respect: we expect a much closer outcome, far removed from double-digits. But we also have a sneaking fancy for Kerry, who have belied predictions of post-All-Ireland inertia by winning their last two league games, away to Derry and (notably) against Dublin last Sunday. On the same day, Cork's early-season momentum stalled in Donegal.

Result aside, most eyes will be on Eoin Cadogan's performance in a new midfield role - and on whether his old adversary, Paul Galvin, shows up in civvies or in boots.

ODDS: Cork 6/5, Draw 15/2, Kerry 10/11 VERDICT: Kerry

Donegal to hold off Monaghan

DONEGAL v MONAGHAN(Letterkenny, Tomorrow 2.0)

DONEGAL surrendered a promising position against Dublin last month but their home form augurs positively here: they've already accounted for Derry and Cork. On that basis, they must be fancied against a Monaghan team that lost its way, and its discipline, against Mayo - even more so in the continuing absence of Conor McManus (hip).

ODDS: Donegal 4/9, Draw 8/1, Monaghan 23/10 VERDICT: Donegal

Mayo can impress on the road

DERRY v MAYO (Celtic Park, Tomorrow 2.30)

AWAY-DAY league wins are seldom easy, but Mayo have already done it once - in Kerry - and Derry, on paper, don't look as daunting. Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes maintain their spring rotation policy, making five changes from the team that crushed Monaghan, with several U21s rested. Whatever about last year's semi-final ambush driving on the visitors, we reckon extra quality will shine through.

ODDS: Derry 6/4, Draw 7/1, Mayo 8/11 VERDICT: Mayo

West' to buck trend against Meath


MEATH v WESTMEATH (Navan, Tonight 7.0)

HISTORY lesson number one: Meath never lose to Westmeath in championship. Number two: they seldom lose to them in league combat either (2008 being a rare modern-day exception).

Even the midweek U21 result reaffirmed this fact of life. If Tom Cribbin can maintain the hugely encouraging start to his Lake County reign by turning history on its head here ... well, beatification and the Freedom of Mullingar would scarcely repay the debt.

ODDS: Meath 1/2, Draw 15/2, Westmeath 11/5 VERDICT: Westmeath

Lilies to salvage share of the spoils

CAVAN v KILDARE (Kingspan Breffni Pk, Tonight 7.0, live Setanta 1)

CAVAN are so bedded to the policy of mass defence that they've forgotten how to score a goal. But at least they still know how to win - occasionally.

Kildare's pointless return from three games has come as a shock. By hook or by crook, they must get something here - maybe just a point?

ODDS: Cavan 4/5, Draw 15/2, Kildare 11/8 VERDICT: Draw

Home comforts to aid Down's bid

DOWN v GALWAY (Newry, Tomorrow 2.0)

A toss of the coin. Galway hit the ground running under Kevin Walsh, but last weekend's postponement could leave them rusty against a Down side steeled by victory in Cavan.

ODDS: Down 5/6, Draw 15/2, Galway 13/10 VERDICT: Down

Rossies to compound Laois woes

LAOIS v ROSCOMMON (Portlaoise, Tomorrow 2.0)

WE suspect that Laois are heading in just one direction - Division Three. To prove the doubters wrong, they simply must make home advantage count here. They won't.

ODDS: Laois 13/8, Draw 15/2, Roscommon 4/6 VERDICT: Roscommon


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