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Royals can hit back by plundering the Orchard

MEATH v ARMAGH (Páirc Tailteann, Tonight 7.0, Live Setanta 1)

THE Meath football line-up is invariably announced on the Friday morning before match-day but, yesterday, there was no white smoke from Páirc Tailteann.

Is Mick O'Dowd still searching frantically for the team that went missing in Monaghan three weeks ago? Whichever Meath 15 takes the field tonight, they will carry a pressing responsibility to right the wrongs of Clones. It wasn't the fact they lost to Monaghan, but rather the shock margin and especially the shocking first half.

Meath have a dismal recent record against teams from the northern province. Of their 20 games against Ulster teams in the last five years, the Royals have lost 14, drawn two and won a four.

Our own hunch is they'll start redressing that trend this evening, partly because Armagh have the look of a team facing a drawn-out relegation scrap; partly because the Orchard must plan without stricken Captain Fantastic Ciarán McKeever; partly because Meath have far more prolific quality than their last game suggested ... and ultimately because there has to be a backlash, surely?

ODDS: Meath 4/9, Draw 15/2, Armagh 9/4

VERDICT: Meath

DOWN v LOUTH

(Páirc Esler, Tonight 7.0)

The early league indicators would suggest Down never know when they are beaten: they trailed Monaghan by six at the break only to rescue a draw, then ambushed Armagh with an injury-time winning goal. Louth, on the other hand, drew with Armagh having led by nine and then lost poorly to 14-man Laois in what could yet prove a relegation four-pointer.

ODDS: Down 1/3, Draw 8/1, Louth 3/1

VERDICT: Down

LAOIS v GALWAY

(Portlaoise, Tonight 7.0)

TOMáS ó FLATHARTA needed a big response after Laois were streamrolled by Donegal – he duly got it against Louth. Now, though, rock-bottom Galway are the ones desperately craving points...

ODDS: Laois 10/11, Draw 15/2, Galway 11/10

VERDICT: Galway

DONEGAL v MONAGHAN

(Letterkenny, Tomorrow 2.0)

Both outfits bring impressive early season form to the table; but Donegal have been even more prolific, they're at home and, as for motivation, all they need do is watch a certain DVD from last July.

ODDS: Donegal 4/9, Draw 15/2, Monaghan 9/4

VERDICT: Donegal

– COMPILED BY FRANK ROCHE


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