GAA Betting: Thy Kingdom come in

GAA Kerry
Kerry can cover themselves against Meath

A somewhat underwhelming Super 8s and a tough one for punters concludes this weekend. Johnny Ward is confident Kerry can cover the relevant handicap markets in Navan.

"Meath were competitive for a long time against Donegal and Mayo but completely wilted in the final quarter in each game and that trend makes Kerry a strong fancy in the handicaps"

Donegal, Rochford ready for Castlebar

Mayo v Donegal
Saturday, 18:00

Punters have proper quandaries to figure out in Gaelic football this weekend, an unsatisfactory Super 8s coming to its conclusion, and Donegal look capable of coming to their rescue.

This has been a pretty tricky conclusion to the football season, with Cork almost shocking Tyrone, punters hit further by Donegal and Kerry sharing the spoils and Dublin leaking a huge score against Cork.

McHale Park, Castlebar will be sold out or close enough for the visit of Donegal, as Mayo try to stay alive, their problems a consequence of a heavy defeat in Killarney. However, there is little to suggest they should beat Donegal on this season's form.

The talking-points are many here, starting with Donegal including former boss Stephen Rochford among their management. Generally regarded as an excellent coach, his inside knowledge of the Mayo camp, having been their boss until a year ago, should not be underestimated.

Mayo have had a deeply flawed campaign, losing to Roscommon at home in the Connacht SFC and worryingly brushed aside by Kerry, a performance that is in sharp contrast to what Donegal produced against the Kingdom at Croke Park.

Punters may be a shade wary of backing Donegal as there have been rumours about the readiness of Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, the excellent Patrick McBrearty and Jason McGee. However, manager Declan Bonner has said that Donegal will have everyone bar the unfortunate Eoghan Bán Gallagher available.

Essentially, Donegal have very few question-marks and Mayo have quite a few. How will they cope with Donegal's superior pace? What Mayo team will turn up? Have they the forwards to do enough damage? And will Mayo finally show a maturity with their kickout strategy, something Rochford will be keen to exploit?

Mayo's ageing defence does not look what it was, the full-back line given a bit of a hiding by Kerry, and it was encouraging that five of Donegals forwards scored from play against Kerry, with McBrearty and Michael Murphy accounting for 1-12 between them. They cruised through Ulster, showed excellent character against Kerry and essentially look in a better place than Mayo on this season's form.

Kerry a confident bet in Meath

Meath v Kerry
Saturday, 18:00

Kerry should cover their own handicap tally against a team with nothing to play for in Pairc Tailteann and quite simply, Kerry will be keen to avoid Dublin in the semi-finals so they should not be lacking motivation, even if they are already through to a semi-final.

Kerry know that a win will seal a semi-final spot and they'll top the group if they rack up a considerable score difference assuming that Donegal beat Mayo in the opposite fixture - it'll come down to points scored to decide between first and second.

The general belief is that the Kingdom are the main threat to Dublin and having David Moran back here is an enormous boost. Meath have a few injury concerns, nothing to really motivate them and vastly inferior forwards to Kerry's, making this look a potential hammering unless they can stay in touch in the first half.

Meath were competitive for a long time against Donegal and Mayo but completely wilted in the final quarter in each game and that trend makes Kerry a strong fancy in the handicaps.

Cagey fare awaits in Omagh shadow-box

Tyrone v Dublin
Sunday, 16:00

Two games of little or no consequence take place Sunday, with Cork and Roscommon of no real punting appeal, Tyrone and Dublin far more interesting. There has to be a great deal of shadow boxing about this match but it is in Omagh and Dublin have not run away with it against Tyrone in recent games.

The Red Hand beat the Dubs in Croker in the league this campaign, while their last Championship match in Omagh was close and there probably will be an element of each side feeling the other out here, rendering a bet on unders in the handicap of some appeal.

Tyrone's more expansive game this year has made them more open defensively but they will remember how badly they faded in last year's All-Ireland final, the words of Colm Cavanagh afterwards quite telling.

"You aim to start every game fast," Cavanagh said. "So yeah, that was what we aimed for in the first 20 minutes. But I think we actually were in a wee bit of shock that it had gone that well."

Tyrone will be keen to manage this game much better, quite possibly partly mimicking Dublin's endless commitment to keeping the football until the right opportunity arises. Last year in Omagh, Tyrone hit 0-14 to Dublin's 1-14 and it is easy enough to envisage something similar here.

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