The National Football and Hurling League seasons continue on Saturday.
Last weekend saw some excellent games for this time of year and raised quite a few talking points, including the use of the new rules in the NFL.
Round 2 of the National Football and Hurling Leagues promises to be as exciting as last weekend’s action.
This Saturday evening, Dublin will be hoping to bounce back from their shock defeat to Monaghan when they face Galway in Croker. This game will be shown live on eir Sport 1. While in the NHL, Kilkenny will be hoping to make it two wins from two when they travel to Ennis to take on Clare. This game will be shown live on TG4 on Sunday.
NFL Division 1 – Dublin v Galway (Throw-in @ 7pm, live on eir Sport 1, on 02/02)
Perhaps the only other team in the country that wouldn’t of been delighted to see the all-conquering Dubs beaten last weekend, was Galway. This is because you would have to expect a backlash from the All-Ireland Champions after a below par second half performance against Monaghan.
To be fair, it was their first proper run out last weekend, and they were not long back from their team holiday. They started the game very sharply, but Monaghan to their credit hung in there and when they sprung Conor McManus and the fleet-footed Stephen O’Hanlon from the bench, the Dublin full-back line just couldn’t handle them. The offensive mark killed the Dubs in the final quarter of Sunday’s match.
This of course will give Galway great encouragement, as it was clear to see that Dublin have not done much work on the offensive mark. Perhaps this is because it has only been introduced for the League and not the Championship. If Dublin don’t improve on this, they could continue to be exploited by the rest of the teams in the division. You would expect however, that a manager of Jim Gavin’s experience and quality will be looking to rectify their defensive frailties for this Saturday’s encounter with the Tribesmen.
Galway struggled past Cavan on Sunday without really impressing. At the moment I don’t think Galway have the real fire power to threaten Dublin the way Monaghan did. Damien Comer missed the Cavan game and if he is not fit to play this weekend he will be a massive loss for Galway. Considering his physical presence, he could really benefit from the offensive mark rule.
I think Dublin will see this as a must-win game especially when they have to travel down to Tralee to take on Kerry in Round 3. They will not want to go into that game on the back of two defeats. I fancy Dublin to flex their muscle this Saturday and win comfortably in the end.
Verdict: Dublin -4 (Handicap) @ 8/11
NHL Division 1A – Clare v Kilkenny (Throw-in @ 2pm. Live on TG4, on 03/02):
Kilkenny got the defence of their National League crown off to a great start last weekend with a comprehensive victory over Cork. The Cats were never really threatened as the Rebels were poor on the day, but this can also be put down to how impressive Kilkenny were.
There seems to be a new wave of Kilkenny talent coming through at the moment. Their half-back line of Conor Delaney, Paddy Deegan and Enda Morrissey was very impressive on Sunday last. Up front, Kevin Kelly was flawless from placed balls and Billy Ryan fired in 1-1 from play. While between the sticks, All Star goalkeeper Eoin Murphy, who is in deadly form, wasn’t to be beaten. They still have the likes of Richie Hogan, Colin Fennelly, TJ Reid and Walter Walsh to come back into their side so it all looks positive for the current League champions.
Clare on the other hand suffered a disappointing defeat to the hands of Munster rivals Tipperary. Clare seemed to be finally getting into the game when star man Tony Kelly was controversially sent off for a high tackle. Clare have since appealed Kelly’s one-match ban, but on Thursday night the GAA upheld the suspension and he will miss the Kilkenny clash. You would expect Clare to improve this week at home, but this is another big test for them, especially without their talisman.
A big moment early in the second half as @GaaClare Tony Kelly sees red!
— eir Sport (@eirSport) January 26, 2019
The fact that the game is in Ennis should be a big help to Clare. However, I think that considering Kilkenny’s tails are up after last weekend, they are slightly overpriced at 8/5 to win. I expect this to be a tight game that could go either way, so Kilkenny in the Handicap betting does seem the best value.
Verdict: Kilkenny +2 (Handicap) @ 10/11