GAA: Dublin set for their toughest All-Ireland test yet

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GAA fanatic Keith Merchant (@kmerchant3) shares his thoughts on Saturday’s football fixture from the All-Ireland Championship.

Tyrone v Armagh | Saturday 5th August 2017, 16:00 | Sky Sports

After last weekend’s disappointing results, it’s time to get back on the winning trail with the start of a GAA football double-header on Sky Sports, starting with Ulster rivals Tyrone v Armagh.

I will start with the favourites Tyrone, who came through the Ulster championship unscathed, compared to previous years when winning some games was a war of attrition,

I really thought they had a serious chance last year but fell short against Mayo on the day. They have no shortage of talent in their squad such as Peter Harte, Sean Cavanagh and Colm Cavanagh for example.

Tyrone will come into this high on confidence but seeing how Down, Donegal and Derry have performed so poorly since suggest Tyrone maybe overhyped slightly. But still, they are without doubt deserving favourites here.

Few in Armagh would have been given a chance this year but they’ve proved the doubters wrong and arrive on the back of a three-match winning streak.

They work very well as a team and of course they have the star man in Jamie Clarke. Clarke is on fire right now so the underdogs will relish this battle, lacking little self belief,; they’ll be prepared for battle and hold no fear of Tyrone.

However, I think Tyrone might have too much firepower for them on the day but the +5 handicap on Armagh is too tempting to turn down, in what I expect to be a closer encounter than the bookies forecast.

Armagh +5 on the handicap is 1/1 (Paddy Power) whilst 35 points or fewer also appeals at evens with Paddy Power.

Dublin v Monaghan | Saturday 5th August 2017, 18:00 | Sky Sports

Saturday’s second game involves current All-Ireland champions Dublin taking on Monaghan. I expect a good test here for the Dubs.

I’ll start with their challengers, Monaghan. The underdogs have been hit and miss in this year’s championship, getting over Down in the last game with an unconvincing performance.

Monaghan won’t want to start here like they did against Down. I expect them to keep this game as tight as possible up until half-time, giving them every chance of an upset. But I just can’t see them being capable of holding Dublin out for 70 minutes – the more the match advances, the more space Dublin will have and take control.

Monaghan do have some quality players like Conor McManus and Kieran Hughes however, I can’t see them proving good enough to upset the odds. Nevertheless, they’ll be disappointed if they couldn’t cover the +9 handicap here at evens with Paddy Power.

Dublin are the envy of many counties with an endless steam of talent in their ranks. Once again they’re in unstoppable form, going for another title.

Dublin have been winning comfortably and I can’t see anything different here even if they have to be a bit more patient; it might take 45-50 minutes to get on top of Monaghan but it will happen, just not by as much as the +9 handicap suggests.

Dublin haven’t faced any opposition in this years championship so far like Monaghan, who will be going in with lots of confidence following last week’s win. They should give be good enough to give Dublin a decent rattle.

As well as the handicap play, I’m backing Dubliner Jack McCaffrey to claim the Man of the Match award at a generous 12/1 with Paddy Power.

Best Bets

Tyrone v Armagh – Armagh +5 handicap (1/1 Paddy Power)

Tyrone v Armagh – 35 points or less (1/1 Paddy Power)

Dublin v Monaghan – Monaghan +9 handicap (1/1 Paddy Power)

Dublin v Monaghan – Jack McCaffrey to be Man of the Match (12/1 Paddy Power)

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