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High five for The Furlong

High five for The Furlong

Michael Duffy

WHile yours truly wasn’t quite up there with the Ruby Walsh’s of this world last week, we did manage to tip five winners in our special Cheltenham feature.
Ruby booted home Quevaga on Day One, while easy winners Ninetieth Minute and Dunguib brought up a a tasty double on Day Two. Day Three was a tough one with Ruby and Big Bucks foiling nap bet Punchestowns but the week came to a fitting end with Chapaturgeon and Kauto Star hosing up on Friday.

SO here we are. A game that will define an Irish team packed with players from a golden era of rugby. A Grand Slam decider with no French and no English to be seen. What could possibly go wrong? It’s Ireland v Wales in the Millennium Stadium and in many respects playing this huge match away from Croke Park will ease some of the pressure on Declan Kidney’s men.
Wales have showed none of the flair and panache that they treated us to last season and, again last weekend, they struggled to put away an average Italian side. Ireland weren’t exactly flamboyant in Edinburgh either but showed a patience and professionalism in the second half that has all the hallmarks of the team coach.
The trick for Kidney and Co will be to replicate that intensity through 80 minutes on Saturday — and if they can — the bet for punters will be Ireland to lead at half-time and win. That’s a 7-4 chance and slightly more attractive than the Evens on offer for a victory. Fingers crossed!
Ireland/Ireland 7-4 (half-time/full-time).

MANAGER Jack O’Connor touched on it after Kerry’s unimpressive victory over Mayo at the weekend: “In many ways it’s easier tune in for away games because fellas are together the night before,” said O’Connor.
Victories for the away teams have been a feature of the National Football League so far and, in fact, all four games in Division Two last weekend went to the away side.
It’s a factor to bear in mind though, typically, once we come across a winning pattern we immediately ignore it. This weekend’s suggested NFL treble centres around three home teams: Kerry’s stuttering victory over Mayo should have removed any residue of complacency ahead of Sunday’s game with relegation-threatened Westmeath and Cork have enough to take care of Wexford.
But we need a team to bump up the value of our bet and while Galway have been in scintillating form this spring, Derry could have their measure in Celtic Park this weekend. Paddy Bradley should have recovered from an injury he picked up against Dublin and up-and-coming manager Damien Cassidy is well capable of concocting a plan to stop Galway’s rampant attack.
NFL treble: Derry (v Galway), Kerry (v Westmeath), Cork (v Wexford). Kildare 10-1 (Leinster Championship 2009).

MY Will’s fine performance in the Gold Cup has seen him catapult to the top of the betting for the Grand National next month. He’ll be well handicapped on that run but he still doesn’t strike you as a ‘National type’. That’s in stark contrast to Butler’s Cabin who, in running in the Kim Muir at last week’s Festival, didn’t exactly mix in the same circle as My Will.
But Jonjo O’Neill’s admirable stayer could well fill in the only significant blank in jockey Tony McCoy’s cv. He runs off the same mark as last April (147), and while that isn’t overly attractive, he would surely have taken a part in the finish had he not fallen at Beecher’s second time around. There’s some 12-1 available about him right now which looks a fair price.
Butlers Cabin 12-1 (Aintree Grand National, April 4).

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