The Six Nations may be the talk of the terraces in Wales and Ireland at the moment, but the inaugural Carling Nations Cup provides both the Welsh and Irish fans to forget poor rugby results and focus on some football.
Dublin will set the scene for the first ever biennial international tournament involving Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and it’s the home advantage that should serve the Republic of Ireland well.
Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland are 4/6 to beat a Welsh side playing their first game under Gary Speed, and the new boss has failed to entice Wales’ ageing heroes out of retirement.
Trapattoni has won more trophies in his career (21) than Speed has managed games (18), and with Wales losing a number of stars to injury, the scene is set for Ireland to record the first win of the Carling Nations Cup.
Wales are 9/2 to beat Ireland but will be without Gareth Bale, Craig Bellamy and Aaron Ramsey while Ireland can boast a squad including Shay Given, John O’Shea, Darron Gibson, Damien Duff and Shane Long.
Robbie Keane’s absence means the pressure falls on Long and Kevin Doyle to get the goals and both are available at 5/1 to get the first goal.
Robert Earnshaw is the most experienced man in the Welsh squad and while James Collins will lead from the back, Earnshaw will be expected to provide the threat and is 9/1 to get the first goal.
But Wales have managed just two goals in four games against Ireland in Dublin, and the Irish look a strong bet at 11/8 to win to nil, and a very tempting 6/1 to win 2-0.
With both teams struggling for form recently, it seems unlikely that this will turn into a classic and under 2.5 goals at 8/15 is more than tempting.
A £25 stake on Long scoring first and Ireland winning 2-0 would return £650. New customers can sign up here for a free bet worth £25.