Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Cats to beat the bookies

In Maghera, there is a famous saying, ‘every day is a Rainey day’, a reference to the two John Rainey bookmaker shops.  Like most towns in Ireland, at the weekend people will lose out on their weekly flutter.  A ‘sure thing’ running in the 3.30 at Sandown or Liverpool drawing at home to Torquay in the FA Cup, costing you £200 in an accumulator.  Usually, the only winner is the bookie. 

John Rainey has not ventured into the online betting market, so before compiling this article I checked Paddy Power for the odds ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland Hurling Final.  As of Tuesday night, Tipp are 8/11, Kilkenny the outsiders at 6/4 and it’s 11/1 for a draw.

Personally I think it is a weekend to keep your money in your pocket.  It’s a game that will be difficult to call.  This weekend I simply want entertainment value, a game that will keep me guessing right until the final whistle.  So after my Sunday morning cycle and brunch I will head for a ‘Sofa Sunday’. I am looking forward to what should be two great games.

To help preview the senior final, I have asked a few people to give their take on the game, their verdict and where the game will be won and lost.

Cahair O'Kane
Mickey Glover (Slaughtneil Hurling Manager) – I am going for Kilkenny. Based on both teams this year I think they will be better prepared for the fight this time, Tipperary might find hunger lacking a bit but I expect the game to be a classic and a very tough encounter with very little in it. Prediction: Kilkenny

Cahair O’Kane (County Derry Post) – Tipp have been the best side in the country over the last two years but a wounded Kilkenny side is a seriously dangerous animal. The Cats might trust themselves individually though, and not do what Dublin did in playing an extra man in front of their full-back line. That confidence could be their undoing. If they go man for man, Tipp will score goals and win. If not, Kilkenny. Prediction: Tipperary

Paul Hughes
Paul Hughes (St Patrick’s Maghera Hogan and O’Keefe winning manager) - Tipp with all the motivation - back to back titles for first time since 64/65; won minor titles in 06 with Sheedy and 07 with Declan Ryan as manager.

Tipp have power, pace, fierce intensity, incredible movement, speed and carry a major goal threat via Corbett especially.  Also know they can go toe to toe, match and beat the Cats after two massive finals in the past two years.  Few teams can say that about playing Kilkenny.

Kilkenny will make them earn their title and Cody is the one key factor who can get that bit extra from the Cats but I still fancy Tipp to create their own piece of history and move themselves within 2 of Munster rivals Cork in the all-time list of winners. Prediction: Tipperary.

Aidan McLaughlin

Aidan McLaughlin (Claudy Football Goalkeeper) - I fancy Kilkenny to win.  A lot of people are writing them off, maybe so, but they have far too much quality and strength in depth.  Yes, Tipp do have a great team and a formidable full forward line, but deep down I fancy the Cats. Prediction: Kilkenny

Conan Doherty ( and Steelstown footballer) – Tipperary have been the most impressive side for a second year running and their effortless dismissal of their Munster challengers was jaw-dropping. But Kilkenny are Kilkenny - they have dominated the 21st century, breezed to another final, and now have an axe to grind this year. The Cats by 6.  Prediction: Kilkenny

Karl McKaigue
Karl McKaigue (Slaughtneil Dual Player) - It's likely going to be a tight game which could end up with either side winning by a small margin. Many see Kilkenny going into the game as underdogs which is hard to believe since they have won 4 of the last 5 All-Ireland titles. However I fancy Tipp to make it two in a row, due to the fact that their forward line is the stronger. Kilkenny's defence won't be able to match intensity like that of Dublin's in the semi. Prediction: Tipperary

Sean Cassidy (Slaughtneil Dual Player) - I think Tipperary are going to win this year because throughout the championship they have been the best team. Both teams have great players that can win matches but with players like Lar Corbett and Eoin Kelly scoring with ease in every game, they will be the team to watch. Prediction: Tipperary

James Kielt
James Kielt (Derry and Kilrea footballer) - I think it will be another tight affair between these two great teams.  The bookies have Tipp at 8/13 favourites which is probably justified going on the form of the teams over the last year or so.  Tipp’s forwards will be hard to shackle but a depleted Dublin put them to the pin of their collar.  Kilkenny were one victory away from going for 6 in a row this year and I think they have another big kick in them yet. Prediction: Kilkenny

Enda McKaigue (Slaughtneil Footballer) - Sunday's final is hard to call. If the bookies are anything to go by Tipp already have their name on the Liam McCarthy Cup. However I fancy Kilkenny to come through, just about. Brian Cody will not need to remind them of last years final and the Cats are a dangerous animal when questions are asked of them. They have yet to set the championship alight this year but I think there is a big performance in them for this Sunday. King Henry to do it on the big stage once again.  Prediction: Kilkenny

Richard Ferris (Former Derry footballer) – It’ll be a tough one, but I think it will be Kilkenny for me Mal.  I cannot see them losing two in a row.  A key factor, is that Henry Shefflin is flying fit this year and will make a huge difference to them. Prediction: Kilkenny

Ronan McCloskey
Ronan McCloskey (Former Dungiven Dual player and Derry hurler) - It has the makings of being a great final, with Kilkenny to revenge the defeat from last year. They will have been hurting from that and their season this year will be all about turning that around. Maybe the notions of five in a row got to some of the players heads and they were stunned by a dominant Tipp team that had a greater appetite. Kilkenny's hunger will be greater than ever and with Henry Shefflin back to his best they will just about have enough to scrape victory by a couple of points. Prediction: Kilkenny

Jerome Quinn (Online Media – - It's got draw written all over it! These teams are basically on the same level and after an almighty battle, I expect there to be nothing between them at the final whistle. Tipp were better last year and they're still flying, but Lar Corbett won't score three goals again and the Cats don't have the pressure on them for keeping their unbeaten run going.  I reckon things will even out. Brian Cody's men look to be in the mood to get the cup back, but it's another year on and King Henry isn't quite the force he was. Prediction: Draw

Seamus McAleenan
Seamus McAleenan (GAA Correspondent) - Anyone's game for the best of three finals.  Kilkenny broke up their midfield combination of Fennelly and Rice this year (probably best in the business) by moving Rice to wing forward.  Was this with the intention of curbing one man - Tipperary's Brendan Maher?  Both teams tend to play a game on traditional line-out format - no sweepers etc. and, while they both have star players, those stars are not afraid to dirty their hands. 

Can Tipp create the space they did in the Kilkenny defence last year, by pulling the Kilkenny full-back line out of position and leave someone (probably Corbett) one on one inside?  Both teams will try to keep half forward lines close to midfield - will the half-back lines follow or sit in place?

Should be like the last two finals - high-intensity, high-scoring, goals (and their timing) crucial.  King Henry is back to lead, but Tipp's young guns are maturing.  Slightly fancy the Cats.  Prediction: Kilkenny

So of my thirteen predictions I got the following breakdown. 


It doesn’t exactly fit in with what Paddy Power reckoned.  I am not sure what Rainey’s odds are, but the bookies are never that far apart.  So will the eight people who put their money on Kilkenny be in the money or simply crumpling up their docket.  Or indeed will it be the day of Jerome Quinn celebrating a draw at 11/1?

Only when the final whistle sounds and the stewards call for Plan B as the crowds swarm Croke Park, will we know the answer.  After all that debate I am swaying with Kilkenny.  I am away to empty my piggy bank and head to Rainey’s before Sunday!

Thanks to the pundits for giving their views.

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