Crossmaglen Rangers and Garrycastle go head-to-head on St.Patricks for the top club honour in the country. Here Con O’Meara examines the betting for Saturday’s match and gives us some tips on where the value lies.
Crossmaglen v Garrycastle – Best Bet Tip:
Garrycastle half-time/ Crossmaglen full-time @ 6/1.
The year’s All-Ireland club final has a touch of the ‘Tanya Tate’s sex tour of Ireland’ about it. Crossmaglen are Tanya Tate. They know the game inside out and are likely to have all angles covered.
Garrycastle meanwhile are, like the brother of the Fianna Fail councillor who notoriously lasted a minute in Tate’s camper van, inexperienced at this level.
While Cross are almost as synonymous with Paddy’s day as drunken debauchery; it is Garrycastle’s first final appearance. Indeed, it’s a Westmeath club’s first.
The Orchard men are are aiming for their sixth title since 1997. They also aim to be the first club to go back-to-back twice. They’re hunger can’t be questioned after their semi-final win over Dr. Crokes. After conceding what looked like a ‘square ball’ goal to leave them 1-5 to 0-1 down after twenty minutes, the Ulster champs survival looked under more pressure than Kirstie Alley’s beach ball. Up stepped Oisin McConville to rattle over a point and set up Michael McNamee for a goal and the Rangers were back on track. Their refusal to panic was evident when Crokes tied the game up late on with a man advantage only for Aaron Kernan to net the decisive goal for McEntee’s men.
The loss of captain and centre-forward/midfield option Stephen Kernan is a major blow. However, it’s likely Cross will use this as an extra motivating factor.
For Garrycastle this is a once in a lifetime chance. The Athlone-based side won their first Leinster this year after dominating Westmeath football for most of the last decade. The underdog tag is one they’ve worn with distinction against the St. Brigid’s of Dublin and Roscommon in the Leinster final and All-Ireland semis respectively. They will be fully confident of landing the Andy Merrigan.
There are a number of important battles to look forward to. James Morgan, who did a super job on then Gooch, is likely to track Dessie Dolan for the hour. Dolan is a fantastic footballer; his running of the ball and awareness on it is a joy to behold. The two St. Brigid’s sides seemed to underestimate Dessie’s ability to influence games and didn’t reorganise their team to address it. McEntee is likely to be more awake to the threat.
Midfield is another mouth-watering battleground. Cross did well in negating Karol Mannion here last year, but Garrycastle’s big midfield are a different prospect. The sheer size of David O’Shaughnessy is complemented by the superb passing of Seanie O’Donoghue, and that can give Garrycastle the edge on the possession stakes. In big Gary Dolan they’ve a man with a n eye for goal, James Dolan has pace to burn and Paddy Mulvihil finally found his form in the semi-final.
While the head says Cross, backing them at 2/7 is accumulator stuff only. Garrycastle are 7/2 and have managed to tear out of the blocks in each of their last two games before tiring towards the games’ end. The 6/1 about Garrycastle half-time/Crossmaglen full-time is worth the price of a few of pints of green beer.
Hopefully the underdogs will put it up to them for a bit longer than the aforementioned councillor’s brother.