Eircom Football Championship Preview
This weekend is a fairly quiet one on the Gaelic Football front, but try telling that to Louth, Wexford, Antrim and Monaghan.
As was the case last week and will be throughout the Gaelic Football Championship this summer, JOE’s experts will try and forecast the results of this weekend’s encounters and make up for the one glitch in last week’s picks after Down managed to overturn Derry at Celtic Park.
Remember that, with thanks to the folks at Eircom and experiencemore.ie you can do likewise and also join in the fun on the JOE League, where you can be in with a chance of winning a pair of highly sought-after All-Ireland Final tickets. Simply click on the link above, enter the code CTYVG and you’re golden.
As for this weekend’s games then…
Louth v Wexford
With home advantage and with the momentum gained from a hugely impressive trouncing of Laois a couple of weeks back, Louth will be well fancied to topple Wexford and advance to a Leinster semi-final and odds of 4/6 illustrate that the bookies think they’ll do just that.
The Model County have little in the way of form to go on having won only two games and subsequently been relegated from Division Two, but Aidan O’Brien has been able to name a team featuring a number of stalwarts from a side who have arguably proved more than a match for the Dubs than anyone else in the province in recent seasons. Once again, Wexford will be looking to Ben Brosnan, Ciaran Lyng and Redmond Barry for the bulk of scores from attack.
Under Aidan O’Rourke, Louth look a very focussed and very professional outfit and on the early evidence, he’s getting the best out of the likes of Paddy Keenan, Brian White and Shane Lennon, the latter pair kicking 1-11 between them (1-5 from play) last time out.
A repeat of that performance and we can only see one winner.
JOE Prediction: Louth
Antrim v Monaghan
It’s a bit of a misleading stat considering that they have only met five times but Antrim haven’t beaten Monaghan in the Championship in 43 years and it would be a huge surprise if anything changes on that score on Sunday afternoon.
Both teams go into the game having enjoyed wildly different campaigns in Division Three with Monaghan beating Meath in the final and the Saffrons dropping down to Division Four after just two wins from seven games.
Malachy O’Rourke’s men won the league meeting between the sides by 11 points but a more telling insight into what might happen at Casement Park was the game between the sides in last year’s Ulster Championship, when Monaghan prevailed by a narrow three-point margin.
O’Rourke has the luxury of having Tommy Freeman to call on from the bench and although Paddy Cunningham and Kevin Niblock head up a strong contingent of St. Gall’s players in the Antrim starting line-up, they will be without Tony Scullion and Tomas McCann and will be up against it in their attempts to give the old Casement Park a fitting send-off before it undergoes a makeover.
JOE Prediction: Monaghan