The return of competitive GAA is finally upon us. Here at Bear in the Square, we have trawled the hurling and football leagues to decipher the potential betting golden nuggets.
The league quite often defies logic and bookies rarely have priced up the outrights accurately.
Here is what we have identified as our value bets. We have rated the bets from one to five, with one being dodgy and five being a sure thing.
3. Cavan to be relegated from Division 2
Back-to-back relegations may be on the cards for the Breffni men. Winter has not been kind to their setup with a number of backroom staff and players leaving the fold. Following that, their McKenna Cup form was poor with defeats to Tyrone and Antrim.
Any panel with a high turnover of players and backroom staff sets off alarms bells for us. Their only saving grace may be their kind schedule with four games at home.
2. Fermanagh to be promoted from Division 3
Relegated from Division 2 last year, Fermanagh will be aiming to bounce back quickly. The return of former player Rory Gallagher as manager is sure to put a pep back in their step.
The fixture list has been kind to them with four games at home and they open their account against Wexford at home on Sunday, which they should win. This is followed with another home tie against Offaly.
They will be hoping to have six points on board before they clash with promotion rivals Derry on February 24. Derry more than likely will not have access to their Slaughtneil players for all of the league and this leaves them very vulnerable.
1. Tipperary hurlers to top Division 1A
Looking at the hurling league and Division 1A in particular, we believe the market where the best value lies is with who will finish top of 1A. Clare and Wexford just are not good enough to win four out of five games and top the standings. Kilkenny are in transition and judging by their performance against Offaly in the Walsh Cup they have defensive issues that will be shown up during the league against better opposition.
Cork’s (surprising) change of management leaves questions marks against their name. Tipperary are best placed to top Division 1A. Cathal Barrett has returned and Bonner Maher is available for this year’s league. They have had a less tumultuous winter than their rivals, with no retirements or managerial changes. The loss of Seamus Callinan is, however, a blow.
With three home games from five, expect them to reach seven points, which should be enough to top 1A.