After last weekend’s thrilling festival of All-Ireland Hurling Semi-Final action, our attention turns back to the big ball with the final weekend of the Super 8’s.
Undoubtedly the main event of the weekend is Mayo v Donegal in Castlebar on Saturday evening (6pm), which is a winner takes all clash.
In the same group, top of the table Kerry lock horns with Meath, who having lost both of their games, will be playing for pride in Navan on Saturday (6pm). Sky Sports are covering both of these games.
In Group 2, Dublin travel to Omagh to take on Tyrone on Sunday (4pm). With both teams safely through to the semi-finals, we should see some changes in personnel, when you consider that the semi-finals commence on the 10th of August.
The other game in this group sees Roscommon travel down to Páirc Uí Rinn to take on Cork on Sunday (4pm). Both of these teams are without a win so far in the Super 8’s, so this will very much be a case of trying to avoid the wooden spoon and giving themselves something to build on for next season’s National League.
For the above reasons I will be focusing predominantly on Saturday evening’s do-or-die contest between Mayo and Donegal.
All-Ireland Football Championship Super 8’s – Mayo v Donegal (Throw-in @ 6pm, live on Sky Sports Arena, on Saturday 03/08):
When you consider the mayhem and drama that Mayo seem to bring to every game, Saturday’s crunch clash with Donegal on Saturday evening could well be a classic.
Altough there is no doubt that Donegal are the form team of the two coming into this game, I feel that Mayo will really fancy themselves to cause an upset, as this is effectively a home Quarter-Final for them.
During this hectic schedule of games, both of these teams have certainly had their injury problems. However, Mayo are getting more and more players back all the time, whereas Donegal’s injury list appears to be stacking up.
Reports suggest that Paddy Durcan, Matthew Ruane, Keith Higgins and team captain Diarmuid O’Connor are all back in contention for starting places, which if true, these would be four massive additions to Mayo’s starting fifteen.
To the contrary, Donegal are sweating over the fitness of Jason McGee and key forward Paddy McBrearty, who both picked up hamstring injuries in the Kerry encounter, and are seen as real doubts to feature this weekend. Declan Bonner is hopeful though, that two of his most senior defenders Neil McGee and Paddy McGrath will be fit again for this match, after they both missed the Kerry game. Flying wing-half-back Eoghan Bán Gallagher is out for the rest of the year with a broken ankle, and he is a colossal loss.
There promises to be a lot of intriguing one on one battles in Castlebar on Sunday, none more so than the prospect of Lee Keegan man-marking Michael Murphy.
I think that Keegan’s versatility means that he is the only Mayo player that would be up to this huge task. This is because, if Murphy happens to be struggling to get into the game, he will roam around the pitch to try and influence the game more. So Mayo will need someone like Keegan, who can tag Murphy for the 70 minutes and also have the ability to play in multiple positions.
Lee Keegan is slowly getting back to form, and I feel that if he can do a job on Murphy, which of course won’t be easy, he could be a good shout to land the “Man Of The Match” award @ 16/1.
Another man that Mayo will need to keep close tabs on is the elusive Ryan McHugh. McHugh, like Murphy, is in quite brilliant form, and his running ability and link play are huge assets for Donegal. If Mayo can curb McHugh’s influence, they won’t be far away from a massive win in front of their home fans.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 14, 2019
Andy Moran has been brilliant in the last few games when he was sprung from the bench, but I think James Horan needs to play Moran from the start. Even at 35, Moran’s movement is still brilliant and he is excellent at bringing other players into the game. If James Horan waits until later in the game to bring on the evergreen Moran, he runs the risk of the damage being done before Andy gets onto the field.
This game could go right down to the wire. So for me, Mayo +3 @ 8/13 would be a good addition to your weekend accumulators. For a value bet, I went for Mayo to score first, lead at half-time and win @ 13/2. I feel that if they are to get the win this weekend, they will need to start quickly to get their loyal supporters involved in the game.
There should be an incredible atmosphere in McHale Park on Saturday evening, and here’s hoping that this game lives up to all the hype.
Verdict: Mayo +3 (Handicap Betting) @ 8/13
Value Bet: Mayo to Score 1st, Lead at Half-Time & Win @ 13/2
Sky Sports Man of The Match Prediction: Lee Keegan @ 16/1
(Saturday 3rd of August – Sunday 4th of August)
Kerry v Meath Verdict: Kerry -7 (Handicap Betting) @ 10/11 (Throw-in @ 6pm, Live on Sky Sports Action, on Saturday 03/08)
Tyrone v Dublin Verdict: Dublin -4 @ Evens (Throw-in @ 4pm, Live on RTÉ2, on Sunday 04/08)
Cork v Roscommon Verdict: Roscommon +3 @ 5/6 (Throw-in @ 4pm, on Sunday 04/08)