Kerry v Mayo All-Ireland SFC Semi-Final: Kerry firepower will be too much for Mayo

Can Mayo turn the tide of history or is more disappointment in store?
Can Mayo turn the tide of history or is more disappointment in store?

The weight of history lies heavily on Mayo here as they haven't beaten Kerry in championships since 1996 and that success ended a losing streak against the Kingdom that stretched all the way back to 1951. Donnacha McCormack selects the best bets ahead of Sunday's crunch match.

"Logic points to a Kerry win but Mayo appear to be on the up and this panel relish the biggest days."

All-Ireland SFC semi-final
Kerry v Mayo
Sunday August 20, Croke Park, 15:30, M Deegan (Laois)
Live on RTE and Sky Sports Arena
Match Odds: Kerry 1/2 Mayo 5/2 Draw 8/1

Mayo have won this fixture just four times in 25 meetings since they first clashed back in 1903. And if the history books point to a Kerry win, the respective form of these two sides is a little harder to read. Mayo produced by far and away their best performance of the championship when seeing off neighbours Roscommon last time out but that 22 point win must be taken in the context of the Rossies' collapse.

Whether Mayo have found the kind of form that has seen them reach seventh consecutive All-Ireland semi-finals or merely dismissed a Roscommon side who were out of their depth remains to be seen.

The signs are good however. Aidan O'Shea is in top form while Keith Higgins looked reborn when given a licence to push on against Roscommon. Manager Stephen Rochford can also draft reigning Footballer of the Year Leeroy Keegan back into the side and his extraordinary running power will give Kerry plenty of problems. Mayo's half back line, the launch pad for so many of their attacks, can do damage against a Kerry defensive unit that looked vulnerable at times against Galway and coughed up a number of goal chances that weren't taken on the day.

However, Rochford and Co will need a plan for Kerry giant Kieran Donaghy. The Austin Stacks man was imperious when given the run of the place against Galway while various Mayo teams have struggled to cope with 'Star' for more than a decade now.

Of course, Kerry's threats are multiple. Paul Geaney and James O'Donoghue have shown flashes of their brilliance and much will rest on the quality and frequency of ball Kerry can get into them. Stifling Kerry is not beyond Mayo. It's less than a year since they put on a masterful defensive performance in the drawn All-Ireland final of 2016 when they kept a much vaunted Dublin forward line to six points from play in 70 plus minutes.

The Kingdom won their All-Ireland quarter-final by eight points but every soundbite from them afterwards hinted at a disappointment with their level of performance. Taking that at face value, you'd expect them to improve from that. Logic points to a Kerry win.

However, Mayo appear to be on the up and this panel relish the biggest days. They have the athleticism and physicality to give Kerry problems but with their firepower, you suspect that Kerry will get by even if they don't have the Lion's share of possession.

Both teams to score a goal and a Kerry win 15/8

In the last four championship meetings there has been 14 goals scored with both Kerry and Mayo raising a green flag on each of those occasions. Kerry's forwards look strong and Mayo's running game can get behind the Kingdom's backs so this could be a wise investment.

Anytime goalscorer Kevin McLoughlin 13/2

McLoughlin has already found the net twice in the championship and is a cool head in front of goal when a chance presents itself.

Recommended bets
Both teams to score a goal and Kerry to win 15/8
Anytime goalscorer Kevin McLoughlin 13/2

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