O’Connor Park in Tullamore is the venue for the two All Ireland Under-21 Semi Finals that will get underway later this afternoon, and in both cases the bookies have decided that a two point handicap is appropriate, considering the relative strengths of the teams involved.
We’ll first look at Kildare vs Galway, with just an hour to go before the throw in.
Kildare vs Galway
The Lilywhites have been installed as the favourites for this contest and after coming through a high profile Leinster championship, beating Meath, Laois and Longford en route, it’s no surprise that they are quite well fancied. It’s notable too that the bookies that have pushed the boat out farthest on Galway – William Hill, who are offering 11/4 – are staffed by an odds compiler from Galway, suggesting that there isn’t a lot of faith in this group of Tribesmen within their own county.
That seems harsh to be quite honest, since beating Mayo and Roscommon is very decent form, at least on a par with anything that Kildare have achieved. Longford, as Hastings Cup winners, were always likely to be quite decent at under-21 level this year, and that’s exactly how it turned out. However both Meath and Laois fielded quite young teams with plenty of players that would still be underage next year and even in 2015. Kildare have great depth and plenty of their players have already got good senior experience under their belts, but they’ve yet to face a team with the defensive nous of this Galway group.
When Kildare played well against Longford – most notably in the first half – they did so because they ensured that it was their scoring forwards, players like Padraig Fogarty, Niall Kelly and Paddy Brophy,who were taking the shots. When they reverted to type in the second half, with half backs flooding forward and shooting from tricky positions, they struggled to maintain the same rate of scoring. Galway can keep this tight and Hills’ three point start is generous.
Cork vs Cavan
Cavan’s success rate at this level is incredible and they will be keen to crown their run of good results at this grade with an All Ireland final appearance and ideally, an All Ireland victory.
It’s difficult to get an accurate handle on quite how good this Cork team is. They don’t line out with a lot of senior experience, but in a county like Cork, it’s possible to be a very good player and still not break into the senior panel. It certainly should suit the squad not to have too many battles for the attention of the same players. This writer watched Brian Hurley star for IT Carlow in the Sigerson Cup already this year so he’s just one player that would be much more well known if he had been born in another county.
Cavan have plenty of crossover between their senior and under-21 squads but in fairness to the Breffni County, they’ve allowed the under-21’s to take preference. That’s as it should be because getting some meaningful victories under their belts is much more important than picking up an extra few points in division three.
On the basis that Cork weren’t brilliant against Kerry and that Tipperary were quite poor, we’d give the outsiders a real chance of pulling off an upset here.
1 pt Galway +3pts @ 1/1 (William Hill)
1pt Cavan @ 2/1 (general)