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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Kerry set to move closer to semi spot

KERRY v ARMAGH (Tralee, Today, 7.0,

Live Setanta 1, (Deferred, Setanta Ire)

IT'S arguable whether any Division 1 match over the last half-decade or so has ever looked so clear-cut.

Kerry came to Croke Park last week, saw their torturers of last September and extracted their first modicum of revenge -- a point they will no doubt look to expand further into the summer.

Armagh, similarly unfancied a week ago at home against Cork, managed a point against the big red machine despite fielding an attack which had an almost totally unfamiliar look to it.

Bryan Sheehan's prolific form from midfield was the chief positive from Croke Park a week ago, but so too were the performances of 'newbies' James O'Donoghue and Barry John Keane. Two more points should put Kerry over the halfway threshold to the semi-finals.

ODDS: Kerry 1/9, Draw 12/1, Armagh 7/1

VERDICT: Kerry

CORK v DOWN

(Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Tomorrow, 2.0)

BEFORE the year started, Down were generally tipped for relegation but having climbed the hurdle of beating, an albeit weakened, Donegal last week, things don't look so gloomy.

Ditto the departure of Marty Clarke, in whose absence Liam Doyle took up the attack leadership mantle last week. His freetaking accuracy and general forward acumen saw Doyle finish up with 1-4 against the Tír Chonaill men and he adds another layer to an already glittering unit.

Cork are wholly more predictable than Down as a football side but that's not saying they're easy to stop either. Alan Quirke returns to keep goal for a 14th season while Colm O'Neill starts in place of the suspended Paul Kerrigan.

After dropping points in Armagh last week, there should be plenty of urgency in the Cork performance.

ODDS: Cork 2/9, Draw 7/1, Down 9/2

VERDICT: Cork

DONEGAL v LAOIS

(Letterkenny, Tom, 2.30, Live TG4)

LAST April, these two met in the Division 2 decider in one of the least entertaining matches Croke Park hosted all season. A year on, the question will be how much either has expanded on last year's template.

Jim McGuinness has already said it's his intention to add more fluency to Donegal's mix, and given last year's championship, he certainly has a broader base to build on than Justin McNulty.

Defeat last week at home to Mayo won't have done much for the Laois players' confidence.

ODDS: Donegal 4/7, Draw 7/1, Laois 15/8

VERDICT: Donegal

- CONOR McKEON

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