On paper, it’s hard to predict anything other than a comfortable win for Árd Scoil Rís in this Saturday’s Harty Cup final at the Gaelic Grounds. The city students have been nothing short of imperious this year, laying waste to all opponents. Most recently, their path to the final involved double figure wins in both their quarter final and semi-final matches.
This weekend they have to contend with fellow Limerick school Doon CBS, and it’s a measure of the expected gulf between the sides that Paddy Power are betting 1/6 ASR and 5/1 Doon in their match betting for this fixture.
As some readers may be aware, this columnist used to work at compiling odds for various bookmaking firms in a former life, and a general rule that I always applied was to always remember that in games like this, you were dealing with teenagers. Talented hurlers absolutely, but also young adults who by their nature were prone to inconsistency, not to mention sudden great strides of improvement. It’s reasonable to assume that since many of the best young hurlers in the county will be on display in this fixture, at least a handful of these players will go on to play senior hurling for Limerick in the next two to four years. There is a huge gap between the two levels, yet many of these youngsters will bridge that gap in a surprisingly short space of time – on that basis, would it be a massive surprise if a couple of players really stepped up and produced the best performance of their short careers so far in this fixture?
Equally, teenagers are always capable of having a bad day, and often don’t have the experience to manage their performances when off form. A senior hurler who’s been around for a while can often still give a 5/10 or 6/10 display on a bad day – with underage hurlers, their return often oscillates between 9/10 and 2/10.
On that basis, we never advise punting at short prices, and outsiders at prices like 5/1 have to be actively considered. On the other hand, if form carries through to this fixture, ASR are capable of winning by much more than the five point handicap that’s on offer. Paddy Power are laying 10/11 about Doon minus five, and frankly, that line should be at least one if not two points higher.
Since volatility is inherent in games like this, go for one extreme or the other, at a big price. Doon at 5/1 to win the tie, or perhaps ASR to win by 10-12 points at odds of 6/1. They were good enough to beat both Templemore and Hamilton HS by double figure margins, and Doon would be a close match with either of those schools. On that basis, a similar result is eminently plausible – though nothing could be ruled out.
by Kevin Egan