GAA Betting: Mayo and Cork can underline progression

Lee Keegan - Mayo
Mayo's Lee Keegan is back to full fitness
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We have a busy weekend ahead in the GAA and our new columnist Johnny Ward is here to guide you through the action including Cork in the hurling and Mayo in the big-ball game...

"It is said that you need to be six points better than Kilkenny just to beat them by one but Cork could run away with this."

Back Cork to beat Kilkenny @ 4/6

Handicap market not paying Laois enough respect

All Ireland Hurling
Tipperary v Laois
Sunday, 14:00

Last November, just after a 0-0 draw between the Republic and Northern Ireland so forgettable I needed confirmation that it took place that night, I met Ross King in a bar in Dublin.

King was not your average Laois hurler, at least in that he was relatively well-known - if for grizzly reasons that should still boil the blood. Just a month previous, he had been in the national headlines after an infamous Laois county final, after which King was a beaten man in more ways than one.

Camross collected their 26th title after overcoming Rathdowney-Errill but then-Laois captain King had lost several teeth after a sickening butt of a hurl met his face in a first-half melee. Some of the Camross players would later celebrate King's grotesque injury on social media.

What sticks about that night was King's understandable reluctance to return to the Laois fold, even if they had a big-name new boss in Eddie Brennan. Indeed, he skipped Laois' league campaign, only to return for the championship. He may not have felt lucky meeting me last November but Ross King can now consider himself a very lucky man.

Without sounding like the worst calibre of man - an aftertimer - Laois' win over Dublin was no major surprise, as I had seen them play against Westmeath seven days previously and was surprisde not only by their physicality but also their ability to take scores.

They have little chance of repeating the dose against Tipperary but this Laois team deserves more credit than that bestowed upon them by a handicap of 15.

Aaron Dunphy, Mark Kavanagh, Cha Dwyer and King are classy forwards for Laois, who - it must be remembered - were leading for most of the game against Dublin. They had home advantage, and it was a major plus, but this was a Dublin team who had just beaten a Galway team who had just won in Kilkenny.

Where are Tipperary now? Beating Limerick in the Munster group stage was unlikely to be much use to them but their capitulation in the final could be a mental scar really difficult to get over. They have the talent to run riot against nearly all teams - but Laois are an up and coming force and they can stay competitive.

Moreover, Brennan's decision to use a sweeper against Dublin paid off and he will probably embrace a somewhat similar conservative game against Tipperary.

Cork look decent value even at odds-on

All Ireland Hurling
Cork v Kilkenny
Sunday, 14:00

Cork, the obvious value if you are opposing Limerick outright, will take on Kilkenny in championship fare for the first time since 2013 at Croke Park Sunday.

Betfair is a top-quote 4-6 Cork to beat Kilkenny and, unless the general consensus is a long way wide of the mark, Cork should win this. The belief that Limerick is stronger than Leinster is grounded in reality.

Kilkenny have achieved very little this year, losing to Galway and also a pretty limited Wexford team in the Leinster final, whilst Cork claimed the scalp of Limerick, albeit before losing to Clare in their final group game. They give the impression of having a great deal more in the locker, which is not the case with Kilkenny.

Assuming the excellent and sizeable Mark Ellis can keep TJ Reid relatively under wraps, Kilkenny do not look to have the players to create enough chances elsewhere. Granted, Walter Walsh should be coming back into a bit of form, but the bottom line is they do not have the forwards.

Cork, on the other hand do. They hit Westmeath for 40 points last weekend. Patrick Horgan top-scored with ten points, five from play; Robbie O'Flynn came off the bench to hit 1-4. Alan Cadogan, Shane Kingston and Seamus Harnedy each managed 0-5, while Conor Lehane helped himself to 0-4 in his return to the starting line-up.

It is said that you need to be six points better than Kilkenny just to beat them by one but Cork could run away with this.

Mayo can come out on top in a tight game

All Ireland Football
Kerry v Mayo
Sunday, 16:00

As a Galwegian, it was hard to enjoy Mayo's performance last Saturday, but it was still a pretty reassuring one from the Green and Red, who look overpriced in Kerry on Sunday afternoon.

I can't see this being anything other than a close game, especially considering Lee Keegan's return to fitness, Mayo's defensive prowess and Kerry's unresolved issues in that regard.

The legendary Colm Cooper has impressed as an erudite analyst and has already admitted he is getting little confidence from the Kingdom. Mayo are much more battle-hardened after the back-door circuit than Kerry, who effectively breezed through Munster and were disappointing previously in their league-final loss to the Connacht side.

One could side with the handicap but Mayo to win at 15-8 and to win by at least three at 7-2 is also a bet.

While Kerry have home advantage, one wonders what difference it will make given Mayo fans' incredible will to travel: at the Gaelic Grounds, they must have outnumbered Galway by at least three to one.

Johnny Ward,

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