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Marc Ó Sé previews Sunday’s Football League games on the opening weekend

| 29.01.2022

Three-time All Star Marc Ó Sé has joined our team as the latest Ladbrokes ambassador just in time for the start of GAA’s inter-county league action.

The former Kerry footballer has taken a look at all of Sunday’s games and given his thoughts on who will come out on top, starting with the clash between Kildare and his old club who are 1/8 favourites to get off to a winning start.

Kerry v Kildare – Sunday 1.45

The early signs are positive for Kerry who absolutely walloped Limerick, Tipperary and Cork this month by a combined score of 55 points. Jack O’Connor has put out strong teams and this will be no different. Jack can definitely expect a hostile reception considering how he left Kildare. That said, he left them in a far healthier place than when he took charge. Getting Kildare to Division 1 and to a Leinster Final is great going.

Kildare have a new management team. Kildare stalwart Glen Ryan is in charge and the backroom team that he’s brought with him is real royalty. He has Anthony Rainbow who has huge experience in club management, and then there’s Johnny Doyle, Dermot Earley, and of course the Kerryman, Paul Galvin, who is now the forwards coach. So there is huge experience there. I think there will be a freshness to Kildare with the likes of Daniel Flynn, Jimmy Hyland, Darragh Kirwan – all quality players.

That said, I still can’t see anything other than a comfortable win for Kerry. Considering you have the likes of Paul Geaney now playing in his preferred inside role and then Tony Brosnan and Killian Spillane all looking for starting positions.

The competition is going to be huge. I know they have been back to training early, and although it is away from home, I think it will be a comfortable result for them. I can see Kildare putting it up to Kerry for the first 40-50 mins, but Kerry should pull away after 50 minutes. I am going for Kerry to cover the seven-point handicap at around evens. That is my pick of the weekend.

I think Kerry will win and I will put my head on the guillotine here and say they should have won the All Ireland last year. Now there are a lot of ifs in my reasoning, but if David Moore hadn’t got injured, and if David Clifford, their best player, didn’t get the cramp, those two players alone would have got Kerry over the line against Tyrone.

It was the All Ireland semi-final and it went to the wire in extra-time. It is these margins that get you over the line or don’t. Unfortunately for Kerry it didn’t. With Jack O’Connor in and with the few new players coming into the set-up, they are my early favourites.

Mayo v Donegal – Sunday 1.45

Mayo have given away their home venue this year so effectively they’re away from home but they have the biggest support in the country and they will give the team the boost they need.

There is positive news from the camp that Oisin Mullin is not going to Australia and even in the FBD they still have a very strong team with the likes of Ryan O’Donoghue, Tommy Conroy, and Diarmuid O’Connor.

There is huge pressure on Donegal’s manager Declan Bonner this year. They have a lot of young decent forwards so it’ll be interesting to see if Bonner gives them game time. They are a very physical side.

I think that even though they are coming away from Castlebar, Mayo will win as 8/13 favourites.

Tyrone v Monaghan – Sunday 1.45

I have been thinking a lot about this game and it’s a tough one to call. Monaghan have been on the slide in the National League the last few years. They have been staring down the barrel at relegation, but that said they have been in Division One for the last seven years. They brought in Aaron Mulligan from the under 20s and he is a great addition. Hopefully, he will take the pressure off Conor McManus.

Tyrone would have been on a session on their well-deserved holiday so they’re not going to have the same amount of work done as other teams, and fitness may be an issue. That said, they are a proud county. They have lost five players in recent months. Now it can be argued those lads weren’t getting much game time but from a panel point of view that is bound to have an impact on them.

Monaghan, being McKenna Cup winners, are on a bit of roll at the moment. I know it is early days but they have the extra bit of fitness built up into the legs so going by what I have seen in the early rounds of the McKenna Cup, I would give Monaghan the win here as 13/8 underdogs.

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Warren Barner