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GAA Betting: Donegal value to slay Kingdom

Michael Murphy of Donegal
Donegal and Michael Murphy can enjoy an odds-against defeat of Kerry
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We have a pivotal weekend ahead in the world of Gaelic football at Croke Park and our new columnist Johnny Ward is here to guide you through the action on Saturday and Sunday...

"Dublin seem to be going through the motions in the first half, both Meath and Cork very much in it before being beaten heavily, and it might be worth a small bet on the Rossies leading at the break."

Donegal can tame Kingdom in Croker

Kerry v Donegal
Sunday, 16:00

On Wednesday morning, I shared a radio studio with Kieran Donaghy, who was there to talk Gaelic football ahead of the second round of Super 8 games, taking place this weekend.

As he was leaving the office, he commented on how hype was very much taking hold in Kerry after the victory over Mayo. "I'm trying to tell everyone to calm down a bit," he stressed - and, while Donaghy is no longer playing for the Kingdom, one knew exactly where he was coming from.

The awesome performance of the Kerry forwards in that game had their followers - perhaps realistically - dreaming of Sam Maguire. Mayo's kickouts were a disaster and quite a few of their main players laboured, so it is hard to know how much to read into it.

Donegal were losing with around a quarter of the game to go at home to Meath, only to run riot in the last ten minutes, and both Donegal and Kerry deserve to consider themselves legitimate contenders for the All-Ireland.

Kerry's win over Mayo kept their unbeaten championship record in Killarney intact, stretching back to their 1995 Munster defeat to Cork, but they now go to Croke Park for a game that is of huge significance: whoever wins will likely top the group and avoid Dublin in the semi-finals.

Joe Brolly, courting the headlines admittedly, suggested that James O'Donoghue was no longer a top-class inter-county footballer and that Paul Geaney is struggling to remain as one. With O'Donoghue, I agree with Brolly, and I expect Donegal's defence to cope much better with the Kerry attack.

David Moran, who did not have a good 2018, bossed midfield in Killarney: Kerry's zonal press forced Mayo keeper David Clarke to go deep and Moran won seven of 11 re-starts that went long.

It is far too early to jump on get carried away by Kerry and Donegal - whose forwards are in sensational form - can win this, perhaps with a point to spare. Kerry defenders have not had many one-to-one successes in their biggest games over the last three seasons and this will tell us a lot more.

Rossies can restore some pride

Dublin v Roscommon
Saturday, 19:00

Dublin are hard to weigh up right now as they shipped quite a score against Cork without really looking troubled. Defensively, they may not be quite as strong this season, and Roscommon under Anthony Cunningham are certainly not a team to lie down meekly.

Roscommon pushed Tyrone quite hard, having beaten Galway and Mayo in the Connacht championship. It is encouraging too that they performed well against Dublin in the league and the tactically astute Cunningham will have a plan to limit the amount of time Dublin have in possession.

The champions are like a machine, efficient to the last and rarely shooting for points unless the time is right. Roscommon can also expect more from Conor Cox, who was quiet against Tyrone, and mentally they will view this as a good chance to put it up to Dublin, realising that they likely will not be playing in Croke Park again this season.

Dublin seem to be going through the motions in the first half, both Meath and Cork very much in it before being beaten heavily, and it might be worth a small bet on the Rossies leading at the break.

Tyrone to stretch away from Rebels

Tyrone v Cork
Saturday, 17:00

Cork gave it a hell of a go against Dublin, their defensive frailties caught out as they tired in the end. Tyrone have been coming to hand very nicely in the qualifiers and will relish a return to Croke Park, having beaten Dublin there during the NFL campaign.

The Red Hand should cover the points bet here. Dublin hit Cork for 33 points and Cork, realising the need to win this game, will simply have to open up in the second half, opening up space for Cathal McShane et al.

Tyrone legend Eoin Mulligan wrote in his Paddy Power blog that Cork will not be able to live with the Red Hand and his confidence seems well-placed. A bet on the handicap looks well worth doing, given how strongly Tyrone have been finishing their games this season.

Johnny Ward,

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