Thursday 22 March 2018

The best chance of an upset in the championship is to be found in football qualifiers

Conor Neville

Many's the GAA enthusiast was left crestfallen last week as they surveyed the weekend's action.

An Ulster semi-final on the Saturday evening (which Monaghan would surely win handy) and then not even the standard double-header on the Sunday. Just a match between Dublin and the latest Leinster whipping boy to line up for punishment. Some mistake surely?

They've made up for it this week as we're being treated to a weekend dense with exciting and highly consequential fixtures.

Saturday is devoted to the qualifiers in both football and hurling, while Sunday offers us two televised provincial finals.

The draw for Round 1 of the hurling qualifiers offered us three bona fide mismatches, postponing most of the excitement for Round 2 and the one mildly interesting game of the quartet - Limerick v Kilkenny - is still very far from an even money encounter.

Our tipsters believe that the best chance of an upset can be found in the four Round 2 football qualifiers.

Not in Mayo-Derry, where our tipsters believe the visitors aren't of the standard to unsettle last year's All-Ireland finalists, regardless of Mayo's alleged fragility.

And it's not Donegal-Longford, with our punters cursing the fact that the game isn't in Pearse Park.

Laois-Clare, meanwhile, is too evenly matched an encounter for any result to count as an upset.

No, the upset could be found in Navan where Meath, battered by Kildare a fortnight ago, face a Sligo side who battled well against Mayo for 60 minutes and steamrolled Antrim in the second-half of their Round 1 qualifier.

Niall Cronin of The Herald, who observed Meath's despondency close-up in Tullamore, fancies Sligo to run them close.

"At 10/1, you could really look at the draw here. This is going to be tight. They got a hiding from Kildare. To go training on Tuesday night after that. Now, I know there was a pitch invasion after the game in Tullamore, there was only eight Meath players doing a cool-down. That's not a team that's good and tight.

"Sligo are a grand side, they're no world beaters, but they'll be up for this and I think at 10/1 I'd be going for a draw for the value."

However, The Sunday World's John Brennan does tip a narrow Meath win but only because the game is in Navan.

"Meath's confidence must be somewhere around their studs at the moment. If it was in Markievicz Park, I'd have this marked down as an upset.

"I think in Navan, Meath will get their act together and maybe just get over the line. But what's coming down the tracks at them I don't fancy it."

Online Editors

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