With the provincial championships out of the way, we’re left looking at the battle for the remaining quarter-final places. There’s a few teams in there who can definitely put it up to the provincial winners and have genuine aspirations for a semi-final place while a few of the others have bumbled along to this point and we’ll see that reflected in this Saturday’s games.
Colm’s double: Fermanagh and Kildare both to win – 9/1
Westmeath v Fermanagh
5pm, Sky Sports 4
After the thrilling win over Meath, I was disappointed with Westmeath against Dublin. No-one expected them to pull off a win and they kept the score down, but there was a huge lack of ambition even when the game was gone and they might have had the freedom to play a bit.
Fermanagh are a good team and they’re on a roll. Without John Heslin, the Westmeath forwards lack a cutting edge and Fermanagh are my bet of the weekend. There’s unlikely to be a lot of goals and I like the look of the no goals in the match at 5/1.
Cork v Kildare
7pm, Sky Sports 4
Things were changed a couple of years back to ensure losers of provincial finals weren’t forced to play the next weekend after the final, but with Cork and Kerry needing a replay to settle Munster, the Rebels are on a quick turnaround. It’s a little bit unfair, but it’s also a major concern. There’ll be knocks, the morale is pretty low and it’s hard to lift yourself after a defeat against your rivals. Plus the record of beaten teams in provincial finals with a quick turnaround is appalling.
Kildare are the bet for me here. I like them in the match betting at 9/2 but I especially like them with a +4 point handicap at 11/10.