GAA Football & Hurling Championships (29th – 30th June)

Tipperary & Limerick clash on Saturday evening, in the first National Hurling league game of the season.

Éanna Atkinson looks forward to this weekend’s GAA Football & Hurling Championship action

Last weekend, Dublin, Donegal and Kerry claimed Provincial Football Honours.

This Sunday, in terms of Provincial finals, our attention switches to hurling.

Limerick host Tipperary @ 2pm in the Munster Hurling Final in the Gaelic Grounds. Afterwards, Kilkenny will play Wexford in the Leinster decider @ 4pm in Croke Park.

Both of these games will be televised live on RTÉ2.

The Joe McDonagh Cup Final between Laois and Westmeath is the curtain-raiser in Croker on Sunday.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, there are four fascinating Football Qualifiers including the Sky Sports double header of Kildare v Tyrone (5pm) and Mayo v Armagh (7pm).

Check out all of Bar One Racing’s GAA Hurling betting here

Munster Hurling Championship Final – Limerick v Tipperary (Throw-in @ 2pm, live on RTÉ2, on 30/06):

As the betting suggests, there is nothing between these two teams.

The game two weeks ago didn’t really have the Munster Championship feel to it, but mark my words, this Sunday will be very different.

Limerick, in particular, didn’t really show their hand that day. For a start, the likes of Graeme Mulcahy and Cian Lynch weren’t on the first 15. Also, centre-back and captain Declan Hannon didn’t play any part, but you can expect the aforementioned trio to be prominent on Sunday afternoon.

Both of these teams have excellent forward-lines, with Séamus Callanan the leader of Tipp’s attack and Aaron Gillane the focal point for Limerick. If Cathal Barrett is passed fit to play, you can expect him to pick up Gillane. Callanan scored the all-important goal two weeks ago, so Limerick will be hoping to curb his influence better this time around.

One man who will be missing for the Premier County is Patrick “Bonner” Maher, after it was confirmed that he will undergo cruciate knee ligament surgery. The two-time All-Star landed awkwardly in the last Limerick game, and the combative centre-forward is a big loss for Liam Sheedy’s charges.

The area of the field where I think this game can be won and lost is the battle between Tipp’s half-back line and Limerick’s half-forward line. The Treaty’s half-forward line of Gearóid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes and Tom Morrissey has a huge battle on its hands as they face up against what is, for me, the best half-back line in the country. The three Mahers, Brendan, Pádraic and Ronan, are all brilliant hurlers and they will have a big say as to whether or not they will be going back to Tipp with the Munster title.

Before the Championship commenced, I went for Tipperary to win Munster @ 10/3 in my Outright Preview.

Now that they are in the Munster decider, I am going to stick with them as they are the form team. They have a 100% record this Summer and Liam Sheedy has them playing excellent hurling.

I think Tipp can shade what should be an epic battle, and their even-money price can help boost your accumulators. If you are looking for a little more value, I would suggest backing Tipperary Half-Time/Full-Time @ 12/5. The Premier County have started strongly in the majority of their matches this year, so if they are to win the Munster Title, you would expect them to be leading at half-time.

Verdict: Tipperary @ Evens
Value Bet: HT/FT -Tipperary/Tipperary @ 12/5

Leinster Hurling Championship Final – Kilkenny v Wexford (Throw-in @ 4pm, live on RTÉ2, on 30/06):

Just like the Munster Final, I am really looking forward to this contest.

This is a huge game for both teams. The winners would not only claim the Bob O’Keeffe Cup, but it would also mean that they go straight into the All-Ireland semi-final, bypassing the quarter-final stage.

There were some ferocious hits and brilliant scores in their last round-robin game in Wexford Park. For me, Pádraig Walsh’s exceptional point that day was the score of the Championship so far.

Up until the Wexford game two weeks ago, I wrote about how unplayable T.J. Reid has been for Kilkenny. However, Matthew O’Hanlon did an outstanding man-marking job on Reid in Wexford Park and I have no doubt that Davy Fitz will trust O’Hanlon with this huge task again in Sunday’s final.

T.J. Reid was still extremely reliable from placed balls, and it was his Ballyhale Shamrocks club mate Adrian Mullen who announced himself on the inter-county stage with 1-3 from play, when T.J. was held scoreless from play.

Lee Chin is a top-class hurler and an unbelievable athlete, but his free-taking has been inconsistent. When you consider that T.J. Reid rarely misses frees, you would have to think that Lee Chin would need to nail the majority of his frees if Wexford are to have any chance.

The Slaneysiders have some really dangerous players that can cause Kilkenny problems on Sunday, namely Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Conor McDonald and Rory O’Connor. Davy Fitz will have his side really fired up for this one, as it could be his last big chance to win some silverware with Wexford.

At the beginning of the Championship I predicted that Kilkenny would win the Leinster Championship in my Outright Preview.

I think they have a great chance of winning it now, but I think that they are a little short @ 1/2, when you consider how competitive the last game between these two sides was. I can see this being a tight game once again, so Wexford +4 @ 4/6 is a decent price. My value bet for this game, is Kilkenny to win by 1-3 points @ 7/2.

Verdict: Wexford +4 (Handicap Betting) @ 4/6
Value Bet: Winning Margin – Kilkenny 1-3 @ 7/2

Check out all of Bar One Racing’s GAA Football betting here

(Saturday 29th of June – Sunday 30th of June)

All-Ireland Football Qualifiers:

Kildare v Tyrone Verdict: Kildare +4 (Handicap Betting) @ 8/11 (Sat)
Westmeath v Clare Verdict: Clare +2 (Handicap Betting) @ 4/6 (Sat)
Mayo v Armagh Verdict: Armagh +5 (Handicap Betting) @ 4/7 (Sat)
Laois v Offaly Verdict: Laois -2 (Handicap Betting) @ 10/11 (Sat)

Joe McDonagh Cup Final: 

Laois v Westmeath Verdict: Laois @ 8/15 (Sun)

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article