Last Sunday, Galway and Mayo kicked off the 2019 GAA Football Championship with expected wins over London and New York, respectively. Although London did make a valiant effort in trying to turn over the Tribesmen, Galway eventually prevailed by 4 points in Ruislip. Mayo had 20 points to spare over New York in Gaelic Park.
This weekend, however, the football and hurling championships really get into full swing. We preview the major provincial competitions in both codes below.
2019 Ulster Football Championship Preview:
This is without doubt the most competitive Provincial Championship in the big ball. Tyrone, Donegal and Monaghan are the three front-runners in the betting, and rightly so in my opinion.
After a poor start to their league campaign, Tyrone hit a rich vein of form towards the tail end of the competition with impressive victories over Monaghan, Cavan, Dublin and Galway in the last four rounds.
What was most surprising about these results was the manner of the performances. They are kicking the ball into their forwards a lot more and it has paid dividends for them in recent victories, in particular their huge win against the Dubs in Croke Park. Cathal McShane now looks right at home at the edge of the square after playing in various positions last season.
McShane, along with the likes of Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte, can be the catalysts for the The Red Hand Men to recapture the Anglo-Celt Cup. A likely semi-final meeting with Donegal is on the cards and I reckon Tyrone will shade that one.
Monaghan are on the other side of the draw, and although the likes of Cavan and Armagh should provide stiff opposition, I’m predicting a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland semi-final in this year’s Ulster Final. The Farney County are without stalwart midfielder Darren Hughes for the Ulster Championship and his absence could be a factor in Malachy O’Rourke’s charges missing out on another Ulster Title.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 12, 2018
Verdict: Tyrone @ 13/8
2019 Connacht Football Championship Preview:
After Ulster, this is the second-most competitive Provincial Football Championship. Mayo and Galway, who are both already up and running in this year’s championship, will be expected to meet in the Connacht Final for the first time since 2014.
However, Anthony Cunningham’s Roscommon will also be hoping to have a say in Connacht, like they have done for the last number of years. They have played Galway in the last three finals, winning one Connacht Title during this period.
Aside from last year’s disappointing season, where Mayo didn’t even make the Super 8’s, they have been competing for All-Irelands over the past decade. However, since they won five Connacht Titles in a row between 2011 and 2015, they remarkably haven’t been to a Connacht decider since.
I think, though, under the stewardship of the returning James Horan, they can recapture the J.J Nestor Cup. They will have to do it the hard way, though, as they play the winners of Roscommon or the improving Leitrim in the semi-final, with their old foes Galway their likely opponents in the decider.
Galway will certainly be a stern test for Mayo, and the Tribesmen do deserve the favourites tag when you consider that they have had the Indian sign over Mayo in recent years.
Verdict: Mayo @ 11/10
2019 Leinster Football Championship Preview:
For me and for many others, Dublin are nailed on to win their ninth Leinster Championship title. Quite simply, the other counties in Leinster are just not at their level. They have welcomed back Rory O’Carroll into their squad for the first time since 2015, after he spent the last number of years in New Zealand. This, you would imagine, strengthens their pack even more.
To their credit, Meath are improving but I can’t see them really troubling the Dubs this year. Perhaps in 2020, when they will have a Division 1 League campaign under their belt, they may be in a stronger position to challenge for Leinster honours. For me, Meath would still be battling it out with the likes of Kildare, Westmeath and Laois to see who would be “The Best of the Rest” in Leinster.
I predict a traditional Dublin v Meath Leinster final with Jim Gavin’s men to prevail with a bit to spare. Dublin are 1/20 for the Leinster title which, of course, offers no value. However, the value for me lies in our “Betting Without Dublin” market. Meath @ 7/10 looks like a good thing.
Betting W/O Dublin: Meath @ 7/10
2019 Munster Football Championship Preview:
A lot like the Leinster Championship, Munster look to be a foregone conclusion. The youthful and talented Kerry should comfortably claim their seventh-consecutive Munster crown. You can expect big things from young starlets David Clifford and Seán O’Shea this summer, who are now into their second year with the Kingdom.
The news of Peter Crowley’s season-ending cruciate injury is a major blow for Kerry’s All-Ireland chances as he is their main man-marker, but it should not affect them provincially.
With Kerry as short as 1/14, the value here will be in the “Name The Finalists” market. The relegated teams from Division 2 this year, Cork and Tipperary, should be battling it out for a meeting with Kerry in the final. This could be a close-run thing but I think the Rebels can put their problems to one side to reach the decider.
The Kingdom should dispatch their old foes Cork with ease to claim yet another Munster title.
Name The Finalists: Kerry v Cork @ 4/7
2019 Munster Hurling Championship Preview:
If the Munster Hurling Championship is anything like last summer, we are in for a real treat. The unpredictability of this competition makes it so exciting. Uniquely for a Provincial Championship, all five teams competing in it have a realistic chance of winning.
It’s set up to be one of the most competitive Munster Championships in history as a rejuvenated Waterford and Tipperary look to do battle with Munster Champions Cork, All-Ireland Champions Limerick and Munster finalists and All-Ireland semi-finalists, Clare.
I fancy Tipperary to go well this year. Back under the stewardship of Liam Sheedy and eager to make up for last year’s disappointing summer, where they didn’t make it out of Munster, I think they can recapture this highly competitive Munster crown.
I’m expecting a big Championship from new captain Seamus Callanan, who was impressive throughout the league for the Premier County.
GOAL! Seamus Callanan with a second for Tipperary! pic.twitter.com/ur5uA6su0a
— The GAA (@officialgaa) January 26, 2019
Verdict: Tipperary @ 10/3
2019 Leinster Hurling Championship Preview:
The Leinster Hurling Championship is also very intriguing with Galway, Kilkenny, Dublin and Wexford all in with a shout of picking up some silverware.
Joe Canning has undergone surgery on a groin injury he sustained from a Kevin Moran hit against Waterford in the league semi-final. I feel that this is a huge loss for the Tribesmen and could cost them their Leinster crown. So often down through the years they have looked to their talisman for inspiration and he regularly delivered.
As Canning has been ruled out for the entire Leinster Championship, I think think this hands the impetus to Brian Cody’s Kilkenny. The Cats, however, do have injury problems of their own, with Richie Hogan, Conor Delaney, Cillian Buckley and James Maher all on the treatment table at the moment.
The absentees for Galway and Kilkenny should give the likes of Dublin and Wexford great encouragement that they can win Leinster this year. However, despite their injuries I’m siding with Kilkenny to win their 72nd Leinster Title.
Verdict: Kilkenny @ 13/8
***Due to the nature of the All-Ireland Football & Hurling Championships, we will be back with the All-Ireland Previews when the football reaches the Super 8’s stage and the hurling reaches the Preliminary Quarter-Finals stage.***
(Saturday 11th of May – Sunday 12th of May)
Ulster Football Championship:
Tyrone v Derry Verdict: Tyrone -6 (Handicap Betting) @ 8/11 (Sun)
Leinster Football Championship:
Munster Football Championship:
Connacht Football Championship:
Roscommon v Leitrim Verdict: Leitrim +9 (Handicap Betting) @ 4/7 (Sun)
Munster Hurling Championship:
Leinster Hurling Championship:
Joe McDonagh Cup (Hurling):