There will be few in the province not shouting ‘Come on Down’ in the All Ireland clash with Cork on Sunday, and the team’s record at Croke Park makes them well worth a bet.
Taking James McCartan’s boys with a two points start at 5-6 has to be the punt of the week in a market which looks distorted in view of form in finals.
Down can be taken at 21-10 on Betfair to win in normal time and are 13-8 to win outright.
Cork were beaten in the 2007 and 2009 deciders while Down have yet to taste defeat in five appearances.
That’s a 100 per cent strike rate, albeit in a lot less finals than Cork who have 24 to their credit.
But out of those 24, they have hoisted the Sam Maguire trophy only six times, losing nine of their last 13 finals which is hardly the statistical form on which to be risking hard-earned dosh.
Not only that, Cork’s progress to Sunday’s encounter has not exactly been inspiring.
Granted, Down had a couple of lucky breaks in the ‘semi’ against Kildare with a disputed goal and a valid point denied to Kieran McGeeney’s Lillywhites but maybe that’s an indicator that Down’s name is on the prestigious silverware.
McCartan, in his first season in charge, has transformed the mindset of the Down team since being beaten in the Ulster Senior semi-final by Tyrone.
Interestingly, Mickey Harte and Joe Kernan were All Ireland winners with Tyrone and Armagh respectively in their initial seasons.
On scoring ratio, Down come out two points ahead, averaging 1-16 in this year’s Championship compared to Cork’s 1-14, so it’s time to get on.
Down talisman Benny Coulter rates the 5-1 favourite to hit the net first or last while it is |9-2 for no goalscorer.
Paddy Power Match betting: 4-7 Cork; 8-1 draw; 15-8 Down.
To lift cup: 4-9 Cork; 13-8 Down.
Total match goals: no goals 9-2; exactly one 9-4; exactly two 5-2; exactly three 4-1; exactly four15-2; exactly five 18-1; six or more 25-1.
Total team goals: Cork: no goals 6-4; exactly one 13-8; exactly two 7-2; exactly three 9-1; exactly four 25-1; exactly five 66-1.
Down: no goals 6-5; exactly one 13-8; exactly two 4-1; exactly three 11-1; exactly four 33-1; exactly five 80-1.
First goalscorer/last goalscorer: no goalscorer 9-2; B Coulter 5-1; D Goulding 13-2; C O’Neill 7-1; M Clarke, P O’Neill 9-1; J Clarke, D O’Connor 10-1; M Poland 14-1; P McComiskey, P Kerrigan 16-1; D Hughes 18-1; A Walsh, K King, P Fitzpatrick 33-1; A O’Connor 40-1.
First to score a goal for their team: Down: 7-2 B Coulter; 13-2 M Clarke; |7-1 J Clarke; 9-1 M Poland; 10-1 P |McComiskey; 12-1 D Hughes; 20-1 P Fitzpatrick.
Cork: 4-1 D Goulding; 9-2 C O’Neill; |6-1 P O’Neill; 10-1 D O’Connor; 16-1 P Kerrigan; 28-1 P Kelly; 33-1 A Walsh.