Last weekend we witnessed some big upsets in both codes with Cavan turning over their neighbours Monaghan in Breffni Park in football, and the All-Ireland Hurling Champions Limerick losing out at home to Cork by seven points.
On Saturday evening Anthony Cunningham’s Roscommon travel to Castlebar to take on James Horan’s Mayo. This game will be shown live on Sky Sports.
On Sunday afternoon we switch our attention to the small ball as Wexford make the trip to Pearse Stadium to take on Galway. This game will be televised live on RTÉ2.
Connacht Football Championship – Mayo v Roscommon (Throw-in @ 7pm, live on Sky Sports, on 25/05):
After Mayo brushed New York aside in Gaelic Park a few weeks ago, this is their first big test of this year’s Championship against the Rossies.
Roscommon have not beaten Mayo in the Championship in 18 years but, coincidentally, this is the same length of time that Cavan hadn’t beaten Monaghan in the Championship, and we all know what happened last weekend. Read into that what you will.
The Breaffy midfield partnership of Matthew Ruane and Aiden O’Shea has been really impressive in the league and I think this is an area on the field where Mayo can get a real foothold on the game. Newcomer Ruane has been a revelation so far this year for Mayo and his driving runs have added another string to their bow.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) March 31, 2019
The debate has rumbled on for years about where is Aiden O’Shea’s best position, and I think his league form has shown it is at midfield. He can win kick outs, make big turnovers in the middle third, and his range of passing into the forward line is brilliant.
Roscommon have named an unchanged team from the Leitrim game but I expect to see Enda Smith start at midfield as reports have emerged that he is fit again. They will need him against Mayo’s all-action midfield pairing.
Although Roscommon were relegated from Division 1, they did put in some very commendable performances. One thing that Cunningham seems to have improved is that they look physically stronger than in previous years. You get the impression that they have been doing serious strength and conditioning work to try and get up to the levels of the elite counties.
The Rossies were blown out of the water by Tyrone’s athleticism in last years Super 8’s, and I reckon Cunningham has acknowledged that this was a major aspect of Roscommon’s game that needed improving.
I think Mayo can win this game but it won’t be simple. Their price of 1/5 is a bit short as Roscommon should pose a formidable challenge. Taking Roscommon with a six-point head start offers much better value as they have the players to push Mayo all the way in this one.
Verdict: Roscommon +6 (Handicap Betting) @ 8/11
Leinster Hurling Championship – Galway v Wexford (Throw-in @ 4pm, live on RTÉ2, on 26/05):
Galway had the week off from Championship action last weekend. Meanwhile, Wexford had victory snatched away from them when Sean Moran’s last-gasp goal meant they shared the spoils with the Dubs in Parnell Park.
— Eoghan Smyth (@EoghanSmyth) May 19, 2019
In the aftermath of their draw with Dublin, Davy Fitzgerald stated, “It doesn’t make a difference. We still have to win two of our three games, that’s the bottom line. Even after today, that would have still been our way of thinking that we still had to win two of three games.”
Davy makes a fair point here but I have no doubt he will be disappointed that his side didn’t see this game out, as for the most part they played very well. Also, contrary to Davy’s claim, if they were to draw another game they might end up looking back on last weekend as an opportunity missed.
Lee Chin was in inspirational form last Sunday, weighing in with 11 points, mostly from placed balls, but it was his all-round play that really caught the eye. When he plays well, Wexford seem to play well, so Davy will be hoping that Lee Chin can carry this form into this crucial clash with the Tribesmen.
Galway were less than convincing as they overcame a sticky Carlow side by 6 points two weeks ago in Salthill. Micheál O’Donoghue’s charges are of course without their talisman Joe Canning for the Leinster Championship so some of their other forwards will have to stand up and show real leadership in his absence. The likes of Conor Cooney and Conor Whelan, who did score 1-03 and 0-04 from play, respectively, against Carlow, will need to have big games on Sunday if they are to get a result.
Wexford should take heart from their good performance last time out and I expect them to run Galway close. Like the football feature, I think the favourites can win this one but I think Galway @ 2/5 is also too short. I’m predicting another close game here so Wexford +5 in the handicap betting @ 4/7 could be a good addition to your accumulators.
Verdict: Wexford +5 (Handicap Betting) @ 4/7
(Saturday 25th of May – Sunday 26th of May)
Ulster Football Championship:
Leinster Football Championship:
Carlow v Meath Verdict: Meath -5 (Handicap Betting) @ 8/13 (Sat)
Dublin v Louth Verdict: Louth +21 (Handicap Betting) @ 8/15 (Sat)
Westmeath v Laois Verdict: Westmeath +2 (Handicap Betting) @ 4/7 (Sun)
Longford v Kildare Verdict: Kildare -3 (Handicap Betting) @ 10/11 (Sun)