Difficult to look past the favourites this weekend

GAA: Opinion

With the Galway Races coming to an end this Sunday and the bookies' satchels either bulging, or their owners with long faces, after too many favourites coming home first - it is an opportune time to look ahead to the four big football games this weekend where all the favourites will be expected to jump the fences being put in front of them.

First up on Saturday at Croke Park (4pm ) is Tyrone and Sligo and it is impossible to look past a win for Mickey Harte's men. The three time All-Ireland champions from 2003, 2005 and 2008 are on the back of a few nice wins in the qualifiers, and in the likes of Peter Harte, Mattie Donnelly, Darren McCurry, and Seán Cavanagh they should have the steel and class to break through  the Yeats' men.

No doubt Sligo will be keen to show the country that they are not as naive and feeble defensively as they looked in their horrible 26 point defeat to Aidan O'Shea and his brothers-in-arms. Sligo are 8/1 in that game and are plus 8 in the handicap if you think they will not suffer another bad beating.

Next up at 6pm is 2014 All-Ireland finalists Donegal against Kevin Walsh's improving Galway. The Tribesmen are on the back of two solid wins over Northern opposition, Armagh and Derry, and they will have a bit of belief that they can do a hat-trick over Ulster opposition. The big unanswered question at this juncture, and the big imponderable, is whether this Donegal team are starting to tire after four or five very tough seasons under Jim McGuinness, and now Rory Gallagher.

If they are losing the desire for the battle and are missing a bit of the work-rate in certain positions that has made them a really tough nut to crack since they won the Ulster title in 2011, and the All-Ireland final in 2012, then Galway will have a real opportunity. In their narrow defeat to Monaghan in the Ulster final, there were signs that some of the Donegal players were looking a bit leg weary. Despite the big loss of Karl Lacey for Saturday with a knee injury, the Ulster men are still 2/1 on with the bookies, with Galway available at 9/4 and better.

It should be a close game, however, based on the fact that Donegal are five years working on their defensive strategy and Galway are less than 12 months, the likely result is a narrow win for Murphy, McBrearty, and the McHughs. However, having spoken to some of the Galway lads this week, they are optimistic of causing a surprise.

Sunday showdowns

On Sunday, Kerry take on Kildare (2pm ) and despite Kildare being on the back of three qualifier wins over Offaly, Longford, and Cork last weekend, it is very difficult not to think that Eamon Fitzmaurice's side with James O' Donoghue, Anthony Maher, David Moran, and Byran Sheehan on frees, will have too much power and experience for Jason Ryan's outfit. Finally, two of Westmeath's conquerors this season, Dublin and Fermanagh (4pm ), will clash in the last game of the weekend at Croker.

Dublin are 200/1 on with some bookies and Pete McGrath's men are 20/1. If Dublin really open up, they could cover their minus 14 handicap, however surely Fermanagh who are on the back of a few impressive wins will not just roll over and play dead. They showed a lot of heart in their win over Roscommon and impressed the way they turned Westmeath over in the second half last weekend.

Dublin to win, the only question is by how much?


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