Sunday presents punters with three provincial finals to solve. The Munster Hurling Final at Thurles sees Limerick champions Na Piarsaigh narrowly favoured against Crusheen of Clare. The latter are the team attracting money having opened at 11/8 with ourselves at Ladbrokes, they have since moved to 5/4 and are still being well supported at that price. It would be no surprise to see the sides go off evens each of two.
Na Piarsaigh carry a potent goalscoring threat and they have gone over the 1.5 goals mark In 4 of their last 5 championship outings. They are an 11/8 chance to do so again today – but caution has to be advised as Crusheen don’t ship many goals.
In the Leinster Final I like Oulart The Ballagh. A trip to the odds comparison sites will show that Ladbrokes are best price on Coolderry this weekend, and that’s a position I intend to hold until money advises me to do otherwise. The well worn nugget of analysis that you have to respect any side that beats Birr is one that carries less relevance with each passing year. It can be costly to establish a permanent opinion on a changing situation, and so it is with Birr. Coolderry’s win over Ballyboden neither holds the weight in the formbook that it might were the Dublin club playing with all their marquee players. But what more can Coolderry do than beat the opposition presented to them, and on this count they have been faultless and earned respect. Certainly more respect than when dumped out of the Leinster Championship by Westmeath representatives Raharney last season.
Coolderry’s opponents, Oulart The Ballagh have been knocking on the door for a provincial title in recent years and having mastered the Kilkenny champions James Stephens they have the form and ability to take the silverware and indeed cover the 2 point spread we have set them. We currently price the match 8/15 Oulart, 9/1 Draw and 7/4 Coolderry at Ladbrokes.
There was only a point between Crossmaglen and Burren when they met in the Ulster Semi-Final last season, but I think its safe to say both teams have improved since. Both have been racking up some very impressive scores throughout this campaign and consequently we have published a total points line for the final of 23.5 points. It is not a mark that gets broken too often in Ulster Finals – though it did last year as Cross beat Naomh Conaill 2-9 0-10 – but that was uncharacteristically high scoring in the context of previous years. Nevertheless the potency of each team’s attack leaves me thinking that 23.5 is the correct expectancy. Poor weather brings out the unders punters, and I think the line will be moving south if anywhere before throw in, and the rain does look rather horizontal from my office window at the moment…