GAA: Familiar foes prepare to reignite the flame

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GAA analyst Garreth Porter (@porterg94) returns with a view from Saturday evening's match in Munster between Clare and Kerry.

Clare v Kerry | Saturday 1st June 2019, 19:00

Clare have yet again been handed the unfortunate task of drawing Kerry in the Munster Football Championship, albeit this will be their second game of the campaign.

Clare bustled past Waterford narrowly last time out, perhaps getting too complacent in front after leading by seven points at one stage – the game ended 0-9 to 0-8 in their favour.

Clare will be on a bit of a redemption effort here, after being summoned to a 22-point defeat in last year’s reversal. Kerry did have the benefit of home advantage on that occasion, where Kerry bled in a lot of young guns looking to prove a point on their Championship debuts. The dynamic duo of Sean O’Shea and David Clifford contributed nine points, propelling themselves into the spotlight for the senior demographic.

Clare can stay competitive

That clash was in front of the home crowd at Fitzgerald Stadium. At Cusack Park in Ennis, I don’t envisage Clare giving up that type of total again. The two teams have clashed five times in the past six years, and Kerry’s margin of victory last year was the vastest by a distance. The other four clashes were separated by 9, 11, 12 and four points respectively.

I’d hope Waterford’s ability to get to that close of a proximity to Clare will be the wake-up call they needed. It’s a far contrast to last year, when they came in buoyed by a strong league campaign, and a comfortable victory in round one against Limerick.

Despite only avoiding league relegation on the last day this year, Clare performed relatively well in most parts. They held Donegal and Armagh to 16 points each – two teams with notoriously strong attacks, and only conceded over 20 points once, which was a ding-dong battle in which they bagged the last two points to salvage safety.

Clare’s heaviest defeat in the league was a disappointing six-point reverse against Meath. They were competitive against Donegal, who were minus their veteran players, and the Gaoth Dobhair contingent, and were beaten by Meath by five points in Cusack Park. So two defeats came at the hands of the promoted sides, and their other at Cusack Park was a strong victory against Munster rivals Cork.

Home form

Unfortunately there is not huge data to go on their Championship form at Cusack Park of late; they were beaten by Mayo by seven in 2017, which on the face of it isn’t too bad, although Mayo struck the brunt of many of the hurdles placed in front of them before gallantly going down to Dublin that September.

The semi-final vs Kerry in 2014 is the last piece of head-to-head form I gather between the pair competitively, in which Kerry won by four. David Tubridy scored four points for Clare on that occasion, and he’ll hope to replicate that form this coming Saturday. Eoin Cleary will need to find similar form to the Waterford win to keep this competitive.

Could Kerry be undercooked?

Kerry had a fantastic league campaign, topped Division 1 before swallowing up against Mayo in the final, trading as low as 1/3 that day before being disposed of comfortably, after the cheeky goal from Ciaran Treacy. I’m hoping they’ll come in here a little undercooked and a bit more wary, as they possibly peaked a little early last year.

In Clifford, O Shea, Burns, Geaney, just to name a few, they possess a scarily talented forward line. They went into the Super 8’s last season as the possible heir to Dublin, and failed in fantastic fashion, not making it out of the group. They weren’t impressive as they limped to a draw versus Monaghan and losing to Galway in Croke Park.

The betting angles

I think the Handicap markets look on the high side, with the standard set at 13 points. Clearly last year will live in the traders memory, and this year to date won’t have done much to shift that.

I think there is blood on the water here for Clare, they will look to shake last year’s embarrassment, and the nearly blip versus Waterford will live high in their minds. I’m going to have two bets on the handicap, with the longer odds advised at around 1/3 of your first stake.

Best Bets

Clare v Kerry – Clare +14 handicap (4/5 Ladbrokes)

Clare v Kerry – Clare +10 handicap (11/5 Ladbrokes)

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