People talk about Leinster being a cakewalk for Dublin, but this weekend we’ll also see that Connacht is of little use to Mayo’s preparations for meeting the big boys later in the Championship.
If Mayo want to get over the last hurdle at Croke Park in September, they need to be testing themselves. I don’t believe in curses, I don’t believe in hard luck stories – they just haven’t been good enough when it matters.
Over the last few years, they’ve been able to beat Dublin, Donegal, Kerry and Cork, but never two or three of them in the same year that would win them an All-Ireland. Mayo seem to ignore Connacht a bit, set their minds on August while a tougher test in the provincial championship might go some way to preparing them for those battles later on in the summer.
Having said that, the team that beats Mayo will go on to win the All-Ireland. They’re a good team with good players and to beat them you have to be one of the best in the country. The new management set-up came in this season but I’d withhold judgement on their progress to date until later in the summer.
They’ve done what’s been asked of them so far, but it’s hard to gauge if progress is being made without a true Championship test. I fully expect them to come through the challenge Sligo and in the quarter-finals we’ll get a chance to see where they’re at. In fact, this weekend we’ll know a lot more about what we can expect from some of the big names in the Championships.
Colm’s Weekend Treble: Galway, Kerry and Donegal all to win at 3/1
Tipperary v Tyrone, Saturday 3pm
Tyrone are going to to Thurles to play this game and they’re going to set up very defensively. Against Meath they set up with twelve men behind their own 45-metre line for most of the 70 minutes, which of course led to a low scoring game.
Tipperary, after running up a huge tally against Louth are going to find it difficult to break down the Tyrone defence. This is a great chance for Tipperary to make further progress against one of the bigger teams, who they haven’t really beaten too many times in the past.
Tipperary at home are certainly a good bet to beat the handicap.
Colm’s Tip: Tipperary +1pt at 6/5
Galway v Derry, Saturday 5pm
Derry are another team who are going to come and play ultra defensively. This is the style of football that would put you to sleep but I’m sure Derry would say they’ve got the job done so far and they’re at this stage when a lot of other teams are out playing fantasy football.
Galway are improving, they proved against Armagh that they’re fit now for the modern style. They were criticised in the past for not being able to beat defensive teams but they did it against Armagh. They’re going to have to do it again this weekend and I think they’re well capable of doing so.
Colm’s Tip: Galway to win at 4/5
Kerry v Cork, Saturday 7pm
The stakes are very high in this one with the loser going in to the section with Kildare and then will have to meet the Dubs in the quarter-finals. Both teams will want to avoid that route if at all possible.
The general view would be that when Kerry get to a replay they always win it. It’s not in fact true. The last five replays between these two sides have played Cork have won three of them. However those three wins came at Páirc Uí Chaoimh and this match is in Killarney where Cork haven’t won since 1987.
The odds certainly favour Kerry in this one and I expect them to finish the job because I think they’ll reshuffle their defence and won’t give away three goals again. It won’t be a high-scoring game like the last one, with Kerry likely to make it a cagey-affair but one they’ll win, beating the handicap.
Colm’s Tip: Kerry -2pts at evens
Monaghan v Donegal, Sunday 2pm
Donegal have been very impressive, particularly in their annihilation of Armagh and a very gutsy win over Tyrone. Now the form of Tyrone is doubtful, looking at them in their game against Meath last Saturday I thought they were quite poor, so maybe Donegal’s form was inflated a little by that win.
Against Monaghan it’s going to be one of those tight, low-scoring affairs especially if the weather is bad. I think you could go to mass on Sunday when that game is one and probably not miss very much. I am expecting a very low-scoring game.
Drew Wylie is a big loss for Monaghan, he was able to take care of Michael Murphy in previous matches so he’ll be a significant loss.
Donegal have the slight edge but I think the margin of victory will be tighter than the handicap. When Donegal and Monaghan meet there’s usually very little in it so I’m going with Monaghan to beat the handicap.
Colm’s Tip: Monaghan +2pts at 6/5
Mayo v Sligo, Sunday 4pm
Sligo are very much the surprise package but I looked at the game against Roscommon and they were clearly the better team. They’re a small, mobile outfit and they’re coming up against a big, physical Mayo team who are going for their fifth Connacht title in-a-row, the first time it will have been done by a Mayo team.
They’re long odds-on to do so and I don’t see Sligo stopping them but they are a very, very spirited bunch of players as was shown in the game against Roscommon. But this is a bridge too far for Sligo.
I would think that Mayo are a good bet to beat the handicap in this game. They have a very good forward line now, I think that they are under-rated. Their game against Galway showed that they’re capable of running up very big scores and the danger for Sligo is that Mayo will score a few goals.
Colm’s Tip: Mayo -7pts at evens