Recommended Bets:Under 31.5 points at 5/6
Michael Conroy to outscore Leo McLoone at 5/4
Alan Dillon to outscore Kevin McLoughlin, Ryan Bradley, Paddy McBrearty, Leo McLoone and Jason Doherty at 5/2
Donegal at 8/15 and Mayo at 11/5 are primed to deliver a novel All-Ireland final this weekend.
Dublin will be thronged with patrons from two counties that know how
to party, and one of them is going to have reason to go absolutely
bananas. After the last decade Mayo will be delighted to see a final
without Kerry as opponents, while fear and Donegal aren’t compatible
since Jim McGuinness started his project.
‘Project Donegal lift Sam’ is only in its second year, though his
work the previous season with the Under-21s can be seen as the
foundation work. They fell just short against Dublin in the under-21
final with players like Leo McLoone, Michael Murphy, Mark McHugh and
Paddy McGrath to the fore.
Last year, despite receiving more negative reviews than a paper
publishing royal boobs, Donegal were in touching distance of the final.
With the fuss that followed with Kevin Cassidy’s ejection from the
panel, and then their patchy league form, many were quick to write off
McGuiness’ project. However, the Glenties’ man, whos has seen more
college campuses than a poster salesman, was tweaking and adjusting his
So what’s new about Donegal this year? They still pack up their
defence but now there are more players bombing forward when the
opposition break down. While last year there always seemed to be nine or
ten sitting back, this year it’s open season going forward with their
corner-backs as likely to get in on goal as anyone. They rarely turn over possession and this allows them to be adventurous
.With Donegal’s system and their outrageous fitness levels, it’s hard to see how they won’t perform on Sunday
Should any player be off the pace it’s immediately obvious. Ryan
Bradley, up until the Cork game, was having a powerhouse of a season. He
looked dead against the Rebels, and he was on the sideline before the
half-hour. Their subs are so well versed in the system that any changes
There are a few possible scenarios that this punter can envisage
whereby Donegal could come up short. One is if Colm McFadden has a total
system failure; the other is if Barry Moran and Aidan O’Shea own
possession at midfield. While neither is entirely beyond the bounds of
probability, it is unlikely.
On All-Ireland final week, it’s also good to remember those who
cannot be with us…Kevin Cassidy and Conor Mortimer. Cassidy’s exclusion
was dealt with before the championship threw in, Mayo’s high profile
defection came in the week of their provincial decider with Sligo. Conor
Mortimer must be kicking himself for spitting the dummy out at not
being selected, especially with Andy Moran’s unfortunate absence.
Mayo may be 11/5 outsiders, but anyone who thinks that James Horan’s
men will be happy to just be there are nuttier than Charlie Sheen during
his warlock phase. The westerners may have had a relatively easy run to
the final (Leitrim, Sligo, Down and an off-colour Dublin) but in the
semi they played some super football. Alan Dillon ridiculed Joe Brolly’s
pre-match suggestions that he wasn’t a top footballer with a typically
top notch display. Will he get as much latitude against the Donies? Boylesports offer him at 5/2
in a sharpshooter market against Kevin McLoughlin, Ryan Bradley, Paddy
McBrearty, Leo McLoone and Jason Doherty: that’s worth a few euro
Mayo’s midfield combination looks as good as any this season. Barry
Moran has left an injury-ridden career behind in a stellar 2012. His
high-fielding and work-rate has been key to Mayo’s year, while Aidan
O’Shea has cast off his tendency to try steamroll through opposition
defences. Solo-running into this Donegal defence is tantamount to
running through the George in a mankini ; you’re odds-on to get done.
It’s difficult to see how the Connacht champions will break down the
Ulster mens’ defence, but they did score 0-19 against Dublin. Cillian
O’Connor may not be delivering much from play but he’s been brilliant
from placed balls. Donegal are careful not to concede frees however so
they may have to find other avenues. Again, unless Donegal’s nerves lead
to a clatter of frees, it’s hard to see where the big score will come
from. That may read strange about a side that hit Down for 3-18 and
Dublin for 0-19, but Mayo will need a big spread of scorers to win out.
They had nine different scorers against both the Dubs and Down. Their
3-37 in the last two games is fair scoring, but Donegal only coughed up
1-11 against Cork and 1-10 against Kerry. Both the goals came late on
when those contests were as good as done
Michael Conroy hit 2-1 against Down and 0-1 against Dublin, and he’ll
have to contribute if 61 years of hurt are to end. Leo McLoone is
important as a grinder with Donegal, but he doesn’t contribute too much
on the scoresheet. He didn’t score against Cork and notched one against
Kerry. The 5/4 about Conroy outscoring McLoone in their match-up is worth a punt
If Jim McGuinness has managed to keep Donegal grounded they look good
to set off a mammoth party around the hills of Donegal. And if they get
a run at Mayo, the two point handicap is well within their compass.
However, Donegal’s tendency to just do enough makes handicap betting the
stuff of heart-attack. While the total points market can also bring on
the cold sweats in the closing stretch, this game looks like 14 points
could be a game-winning total. Under 31.5 points at 5/6 looks too good
to pass up. Get on under 31.5, hope for a thrilling 0-15 to 0-14 result
(just to give your bet a three point cushion), and whatever side wins you can go bananas too.