The Longshot: Not too late to guess who will be host with the most

The Longshot: Not too late to guess who will be host with the most

Ireland’s Eurovision hopefuls Wild Youth ar big outsiders to win the event and may struggle to qualify tonight.

LEESIDER Brendan O’Connor is currently the 17/2 favourite to take over as host of The Late Late Show.

On his radio show on RTÉ over the weekend he said he didn’t want to delve into his chances of taking over because the talk surrounding any appointment is “based on free advertising for betting companies and I’m not contributing to that”.

Fair enough. I avoid making any reference to bookmakers on this page, because most of their profits are accrued by preying on the vulnerable and who wants to give publicity to an industry driven by that? But wondering who will be parachuted into the hot seat is not exactly something that concerns only punters.

The original host was probably the most famous man in Ireland for three decades.

The show has seen ratings tumble and it is no longer the essential viewing of its heyday, but plenty are intrigued to see who will take over. Seeing so many front-runners ruling themselves out has probably only piqued everyone’s interest.

Talk was that a woman would surely finally be given the job, but hot favourites Claire Byrne’s departure from the race, followed close behind by Sarah McInerny (whose Prime Time co-anchor Miriam O’Callaghan ruled herself out early on) has seemed to put the kibosh on that.

The lowest odds are on Jennifer Zamperelli and Kathryn, both at 14/1. Former stand-up comedian is now the 1/3 favourite and all the murmurings seem to suggest he will be the chosen one.

The only one close to him in the betting is Baz Ashmawy at 10/3.

The most suitable candidate to take over the Late Late would of course be another Cork man in Graham Norton.

But you couldn’t expect him to take a pay cut and leave Friday night A-list guests at the BBC for mostly C-listers at Montrose.

The Bandon man will however be host the Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Liverpool on Saturday night.

He will swap the snarky commentary seat for the presenter’s podium. This is likely to be the main Irish interest in a competition that we once dominated with an iron fist around the microphone.

It is nearly three decades now since we last on the event, with public voting generally accepted to have killed our chances, even though uninspiring entries have also played a part.

We are rated as 200/1 shots to triumph this year with Wild Youth’s ‘We Are One’.

We may not even reach Saturday’s main event as their is a semi-final to negotiate first tonight. Fifteen countries, including even money favourites for the outright win, Sweden (Scandinavian neighbours Finland are 9/4 second favourites).

They are bidding to equal Ireland’s record of seven victories and have recruited 2012 winner Loreen to do a Johnny Logan and win twice as a performer.

Reigning champs Ukraine, swept to a win over the UK on a tide of emotion last year, are currently placed in fourth with odds of 12/1 for their entry by electronic duo Tvorchi, who will perform ‘Heart Of Steel’.

Ten from 15 qualify tonight but Ireland are 5/1 just to make it to Saturday’s big show.

Homegrown Spieth might bounce back at Byron Nelson

WE have one remaining event on the USPGA Tour before the second Major of the year arrives with the PGA Championship on Thursday week.

The Byron Nelson event is named after a golfer who is mostly remembered for having won 11 consecutive tournaments and 18 total tournaments in 1945, a record that will never be beat. I was fortunate enough to see the Texan play a round in Ballybunion in the late ’80s and although he was approaching 70 then he was still able to shoot under his score on that famous links.

Only four of the top 20 in the world take part in this week’s tournament with many opting for a layoff before heading to Oak Hill. World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler (5/1), Jordan Spieth (8/1), Tyrrell Hatton (16/1), and Tom Kim (22/1) and two-time defending champion K.H. Lee (25/2) will be the bigger names taking part.

Lee going for three-in-a-row is interesting, but a trend here is four of the Byron Nelson’s last nine winners have hailed from South Korea. Joining Lee are Sung Kang (2019) and Sang-moon Bae (2013), and they’ll both tee it up this weekend too. Seamus Power showed some good form last week at the Wells Fargo event and the Waterford man is rated a 45/1 shot to add a third PGA Tour win for his career.

Scheffler is obviously the standout in a weaker than normal field, but fellow Texan Spieth, who hasn’t had a win in a year (losing out in a playoff while trying to defend his Heritage title last month) shot -25 over four rounds at this event last year, finishing one stroke off Lee. And in 2021 he was a tied ninth on the same course. Spieth missed the cut last week but has bounced back from these setbacks well over the past year. The Wells Fargo was his eighth missed cut since the start of 2022. In those prior seven instances, he posted four top-10 finishes in the start immediately following one. His last win was at the RBC Heritage last year after missing the weekend at the Masters; he also had two other top-four results during that stretch.

Jason Day is a former winner and runner-up but on a different course to current track TPC Craig Ranch.

Since teaming up with Shane Lowry’s former caddie Brian ‘Bo’ Matin of late, Englishman Hatton has been in good form. Third last Sunday at Quail Hollow saw it his third top-five finish in his last six starts (his other two coming at the elevated Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship).

Madrid need to do more

FAIR to say the Champions League has failed to capture anyone’s imagination this year, bar fans of those sides still involved.

All hope is placed on the most legendary club giving the best side in Europe a run for their money in tonight’s semi first leg at the Bernabeu. Real Madrid edged Osasuna to a 2-1 victory in the Copa del Rey final over the weekend and will be confident despite being 9/4 underdogs to win the first leg and 5/2 to meet one of the Milan sides in the decider.Last year’s semi-final between the two had an ending that rivalled the Cork-Tipp one on Saturday evening for drama and tension.

Madrid will need to bring something to the Etihad, and lthough they have not conceded a goal in their last 346 minutes, they are going to be under pressure from City and haven’t managed to keep a clean sheet in their last four games, giving up nine goals during that period.

Both clubs have scored a combined 17 goals scored in the last four Champions League meetings. But Carlo Ancelotti’s side are unlikely to get fazed.

We’ll advise a 2-1 (11/1) twin that might give them hope heading into the second leg but judging on last year maybe we should throw our hands up and say, who knows?

Italian derby

An all-Milan semi-final would have been a mouthwatering fixture once, but a handy draw has helped both reach this stage of the competition.

Recently crowned champs Napoli are leaps ahead of everyone else in Serie A this season, but let things slip against AC in their quarters, getting only a draw at home after an opening 1-0 defeat at the San Siro. Inter were second best over two legs against Benfica too.

These two have met twice before in the competition and AC have prevailed in both previous meetings, in the 2002/03 semi-finals and 2004/05 quarter-finals. Italian champions in 2021/22 after an 11-year title drought, Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan won their first derby meeting of this year’s campaign 3-2 in September, but have lost twice since: 3-0 in the Italian Super Cup in January and then 1-0 in February.

Inter’s Lautaro Martinez (2/1 to score) and Edin Dzeko (3/1 to score) have both scored twice against the Rossoneri this season.

The Bet

HOME comforts can suit Texans and although 8/1 might seem too short on someone as streaky as Spieth right now, we’ll take him to win the Byron Nelson and enter the PGA (for which he is 20/1) in flying form.

Addendum: Jordan Spieth's withdrawal with a wrist injury means we'll opt for Tyrell Hatton instead at 16/1.

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