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Senan Connell Exclusive: Cork and Donegal to get off to winning starts at Croke Park

by Rob Dore | February 1, 2013

Senan Connell

It’s the opening weekend of the GAA National Football league. Former Dublin star @SenanConnell gives his expert betting tips to Paddy Power

Donegal v Kildare, Saturday, 5pm, Live on RTE2

Kildare have had a really good run in the O’Byrne Cup and they’re a very young and exuberant side. The manager Kieran McGeeney has mixed the youth with some experience and it certainly worked for him throughout the O’Byrne Cup.

Niall Kelly, Daniel Flynn and Paddy Brophy are all young players who looked good against Dublin and they’re names we haven’t heard of before. Kildare have done very well so far this year.

Up until the announcement of the Donegal squad I would have expected Kildare to win this game.

Jim McGuinness has named 13 of the 15 players who started the All-Ireland final for Donegal in his side for this game. Now we don’t know if all these players will end up playing but it’s certainly going to be a formidable line-up.

This looks like it’s going to be a humdinger of a match. Both managers need to get a good footing in Division 1. Traditionally they’ve been slow starters in the league with both teams losing their opening two games last year.

I was favouring Kildare until I saw Donegal’s line-up. Now I’m leaning towards the All-Ireland champions at 6/5 [share this tip on twitter]

Dublin v Cork, Saturday 7pm, Live on RTE2

This is another difficult one to call.

Initially I feltDublin would win this game, purely because they had five tough games under their belt in their run to the O’Byrne Cup final. Game time stands to players and winning breeds confidence and the younger players would have garnered a lot of confidence from the O’Byrne Cup run.

However, they’re playing against the league specialists. It’s a very settled Cork side, particularly the forward line, and they’ve won the last three leagues in-a-row. They’re also a team that doesn’t concede a lot of goals, I think they conceded one goal from open play in the Championship last year.

When you look at the two teams on paper the thing that is going to dictate this game is how the relatively inexperienced Dublin backline copes against a very experienced Cork full-forward line. Whoever comes out on top in this battle should win the game.

Cork do have some ageing legs in their backline, with the likes of Graham Canty and Paudie Kissane, and I like the look of the Dublin full-forward line with Kevin McManamon, Diarmuid Connolly and Bernard Brogan. So this is going to be another interesting battle.

It’s sure to be a tough physical game and there’s no doubt Dublin will really put it up to Cork but I have a sneaking suspicion Cork will win at Croke Park late this Saturday at odds of about 11/10 with Paddy Power [share this tip on Twitter]

Money-Back Special – If a team wins by one point in this game, we will refund all losing single First Goalscorer, Last Goalscorer, Anytime Goalscorer and First Team Goalscorer bets on the match!

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