There are back-to-back GAA Football All-Ireland Senior quarter-finals at Croke Park on Sunday with the championship second and fourth favourites in action. Donnchadh Boyle leads through the betting and hopefully to a few winners...
"All the signs point to a Kerry win. They have lost just two of the 17 All-Ireland quarter-finals they have played in while Galway's only win at this stage of the competition came back in 2001. The Tribesmen's record in Croke Park record is poor too with last April's division two final win over Kildare their first at HQ since the 2001 All-Ireland final."
Sunday July 30, Croke Park, 14:00, D Coldrick (Meath),
Live on RTE 2
Match Odds: Kerry 1/5, Galway 9/2, Draw 12/1
On the basis of both history and form it's easy to see why Kerry have been installed as such short-priced favourites. The reigning division one league champions haven't put a foot wrong since winning that title back in the Spring, putting Clare and Cork to the sword in a routine run to another Munster title.
They might have been tested more in the Clare match as they found themselves down to 14 men before half-time. However, James O'Donoghue was excellent in that second half as they ran out comfortable winners before Cork failed to raise any sort of gallop in the provincial decider.
The argument could be made that Eamonn Fitzmaurice's side could be vulnerable as they haven't really been tested to this point but they generally save their best form for the business end of the championship.
With O'Donoghue edging back towards the form that saw him earn the Footballer of the Year award back in 2014, Kerry's full forward line, which will likely include another former Footballer of the Year in Kieran Donaghy and current All Star Paul Geaney, could hold the key to this one.
Galway's full back line have been singled out as the weak link in the build up while they have also changed goalkeeper midstream after struggling with their kick-outs so don't be surprised to see a more conservative Galway side than the one that bounced back from the Connacht final defeat to hammer Donegal.
Their tally of 4-17 that day points to where the strength of this Galway side lies. Johnny Heaney, Michael Daly and Damien Comer are all game breakers on their day while they can call on the experience of Gary Sice and Michael Meehan off the bench. If the ball winners like Tom Flynn, Paul Conroy and Fiontan O'Curraoin can win enough ball around the middle third, they will cause problems.
Still, all the signs point to a Kerry win. They have lost just two of the 17 All-Ireland quarter-finals they have played in while Galway's only win at this stage of the competition came back in 2001. The Tribesmen's record in Croke Park record is poor too with last April's division two final win over Kildare their first at HQ since the 2001 All-Ireland final. They also haven't beaten the Kingdom in the championship since the 1965 All-Ireland final.
Galway are undoubtedly a coming team but this might be too soon for them. Kerry can cover the -5 handicap.
Kerry come alive at Croke Park and can cover the handicap
The Kingdom traditionally come to life at this time of year and their recent results in the quarter-finals are testament to that. Winning margins of 6, 7, 27 and 11 points at this stage over the last four years show that Kerry love coming to Croke Park for championship. This is their first appearance at the Jones Road venue since the league final when they ended Dublin's incredible 36 game, two year unbeaten run across league and championship. Bryan Sheehan looks set to miss out and that removes his reliable long range free taking from the equation. However, with Galway prone to off-days as they showed both against Tipperary last year and Roscommon in the Connacht final and O'Donoghue back in the side, they have the firepower to cover the handicap.
Previous results point to a high-scoring game
The strength of both sides lie in their forward units so expect to see plenty of goal chances. Galway raised four green flags last time out while the potential in Kerry's forward line is clear. Traditionally matches between these two are high-scoring affairs with the last championship match between the sides seeing a total of 3-30 scored.
Back Kerry -5 @ 10/11
Back Over 2.5 goals @ 11/10
Sunday July 30, Croke Park, 16:00, J McQuillan (Cavan)
Live on RTE 2
Match Odds: Mayo 4/11, Roscommon 3/1, Draw 8/1
The opening game of the double-header sees perennial contenders Mayo return to Croke Park in the championship for the first time since they suffered yet more heartbreak when going down to Dublin in last year's All-Ireland final replay.
Since being consigned to the back door by Galway, Stephen Rochford's men have diced with death. Twice they have been taken to extra-time and it remains to be seen what effect that will have on a team that have plenty of miles on the clock.
Seven of the side that started their All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kerry back in 2011 were in the team that took to the pitch in the Gaelic Grounds last weekend when they needed extra-time to see off the Rebels. They have played more that 250 minutes of high octane football inside 21 days up to last Saturday and expending so much energy must be a concern for Mayo.
In those games they have looked both like a side edging back towards their best and like a team feeling the weight of so many long campaigns playing only in fits and starts.
Crucially though, some of their big players are in top form. Probably no one has done more than Aidan O'Shea to pull Mayo back from the brink while Cillian O'Connor was as dominant as he has been in a while against Cork. His haul of 11 points has move him well clear at the top of the scoring charts with a tally of 2-40.
Roscommon remain something of an unknown quantity. They were excellent in seeing off Galway in the Connacht final but that performance was way beyond anything else they had produced this season. Relegation from division one, where they won just one game and included an eight point defeat to Mayo, meant many expected a short summer for Kevin McStay's side.
However, they set the tone of that game all the way through with Diarmuid Murtagh and Conor Devaney leading the way while Enda Smith delivered a performance befitting the esteem he is held in in the county. Still, they have never won a quarter-final and that is unlikely to start here.
Battle-hardened favourites can beat handicap
Roscommon have struggled to beat Mayo of late and haven't toppled them in championship since the Connacht final of 2001. Mayo had eight points to spare when they met in the league in February while they also had the sign over them in the Connacht league in January when, down to 14 men and eight points in arrears, they hit three late goals to sneak a win.
Outside of the Connacht final, Roscommon have struggled for traction this season and they face one of the most battle-hardened teams around here. If Mayo can deliver a 70 minute performance, they might have a bit to spare.
Captain O'Connor can land us a 6/1 winner
Mayo captain O'Connor produced probably his best performances of the year against Cork when he led by example in the full forward line. His free taking looks to be back up to his usual high standards and scores from play off either foot last time out means he's a player on top form.