Saturday, July 17, 2010

Two Gaelic Football Bets for the Weekend

Tradition is the funny man. The lazy notion that’s been prevalent in some media about the Connacht Championship being strictly an either/or affair between Mayo and Galway down the years is not true.

Roscommon have had a nightmare decade but they have a proud football tradition – not as successful as Mayo or Galway but considerably better than the other three Connacht teams combined. Roscommon have two All-Ireland titles, nineteen Nestor Cups and four All-Ireland runner up appearances, and every man, woman and child in Roscommon are fully aware of that as they fly under the radar to the Connacht Final in Castlebar on Sunday.

Roscommon were never as successful as Cavan in their pomp but Roscommon haven’t fallen as far as Cavan yet, although it looked very bleak for a while. Boxing Sligo’s ears for them would be something that would help remind the new generation of their responsibilities to those that wore the primrose and blue with such staggering pride in the past.

An Spailpín has seen the Rossie support at matches in recent years, their constant hearts breaking as humiliation heaped on humiliation. But still they came back. They never deserted the colours. The desolate stands at Salthill or as expected later today at Headquarters are hard to imagine replicated in the Hyde, and that fierce pride counts.

Counting against Roscommon is the fact that Sligo are the better team this year, any way you slice them. Sligo have better players and, while you can only dance with the girls in the hall, Sligo’s will and resolve will have been tempered by a path to the Final that went through Mayo and two games with Galway.

Historically, Sligo would have wilted in the replay after Galway reeled them back in Salthill, but this is a New Model Sligo. If the Yeats county do win on Sunday they are the unquestionably the greatest Sligo team ever and there’s no reason why they should set a horizon on their ambitions.

The media will set the provincial title as the limit of their ambition but if you look at the road to September and of whom Sligo should be afraid – well, it could be one Hell of a summer for them yet.

But first they must get past Roscommon. Sligo are no price at 2/7 and, while we wouldn’t be surprised if the Ross rose again, we wouldn’t expect it so much as to part with folding green in a recession economy.

However, there is a good bet available for the Connacht Final, and that is that there will be more than one goal scored between the two teams, currently quoted at 4/5 and rising on Betfair.

The Sligo fullback line is dodgy and Roscommon suffer from a lack point-scorers. This suggests that a few scuds into either Donie Shine or Karol Mannion on the edge of the square will be an avenue that Roscommon will be eager to explore.

Equally, the Sligo corner forwards have shown an assassin’s touch so far this summer and the mighty Cake is no longer between the sticks for the Ross. Over 1.5 goals in the Connacht Final is a good bet.

Only a madman would bet on Derry v Kildare or Offaly v Down, as not one of the four of them can be relied upon to play up or down to recent form, which is very much when the only way to make money is to keep it in the póca. Cork will almost certainly slaughter Wexford, but they’re no price at all and that’s no good to us.

However, Armagh are quoted at 13/8 against 6/4 on favourites Dublin at a deserted Croke Park later today and that is one price that An Spailpín cannot get his head around at all. The matchless Kevin Egan believes that Dublin can win pulling up but Dublin appear a team in disarray swirling down the crazy river to your regular correspondent.

Armagh have their problems since the glory days ended but my goodness gracious, 13/8? I am kurious, Oranj, but that’s a hearty bargain that doesn’t come along every day. A bag of groats, then, on the Orchard County this evening before looking to the blessed West tomorrow.