Another weekend of championship action is upon us and the games come thick and fast. The first round of the football qualifiers throws in on Saturday while there are huge games in Ulster and Munster on Sunday.
Using a 1-5 rating system, with one being a risky bet and five being a certainty, we have our top four bets for the weekend.
We have gone through the markets available and recommend getting on these three hot selections:
Meath to beat Kildare 11/8 – 1.5pts (Boylesports)
Galway vs Offaly – over 3.5 goals at 8/11 – 5pts (Paddy Power)
Roscommon to score over 21.5 points vs Leitrim at 10/11 – 2.5pts (Boylesports)
Kildare vs Meath – Saturday 19:00. Live on Sky Sports
It’s fair to say both sides arrive into this fixture with a renewed sense of optimism after tough campaigns in 2016. Kildare have achieved promotion from Division 2 – while Meath seem to have regained that never-say-die spirt which was such a characteristic during the Sean Boylan reign. There is pressure on Cian O’Neill to reach the county’s first Leinster final since 2009, and his side are the favourites to win this.
However, we like the way Meath are coming into this game and manager Andy McEntee has brought pride back into Meath football. They were impressive winners over Galway in the league and scored a combined 7-47 in their last three Division 2 games. Against Louth they kicked 0-27 and in Graham Reilly they have one of the best forwards in the game.
Considering that there has only been one point between the sides in their last 12 championship games, we were surprised to see Boylesports offering 11/8 on a Meath win. We see this as more of a 50/50 game and it wouldn’t surprise us to see the Royals back in a Leinster final.
Roscommon vs Leitrim – Sunday 15:30. Live on RTE
Roscommon will be the last team to enter the 2017 championship when neighbours Leitrim visit Dr Hyde Park on Sunday. Manager Kevin McStay has openly stated their focus all year had been on peaking for the championship, a welcome change from spring 2016 when they peaked in March.
The Rossies team named for this clash has a nice look about it, especially in the forwards where the Murtagh and Smith brother can cause real damage. In preparation for this game they have played a couple of challenge games against Wexford and Sligo, and on both occasions they have won well, scoring a combined total of 10-37. Interestingly, they also scored more in the league than Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone and Cavan.
Leitrim conceded 0-16 against London, while during the league they shipped a total of 8-90 so the signs are there that Roscommon could put up a big score on Sunday.
Galway vs Offaly – Sunday 14:00
Micheál Donoghue has this Galway team flying, and following on from their recent National League win they are now favourites to lift the Liam McCarthy Cup. Joe Canning is no longer their only scoring threat as Jason Flynn, Cathal Mannion, Conor Cooney and Conor Whelan are all peppering the scoreboard.
The hurling championship so far has been full of excitement with plenty of goals in each game. Including the round robin of the Leinster Championship there has been 45 goals from 12 matches, an average of 3.75 goals per game. Breaking down that further, after six Munster and Leinster Championship games the average goals per game is four.
When these sides met during the league this year, the onion bag was rattled seven times, while their championship meetings of 2016 and 2012 resulted in four and eight goals respectively. We all know what Galway can do but Offaly are well capable of doing damage themselves, impressively scoring three goals against Tipp in the league and a further four against Westmeath a few weeks back. Hopefully both sides can keep it going this weekend.