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Pick 6

Pick 6: featuring Ireland v South Africa and much, much more

In which six of our writers answer the questions that nobody has even asked.

HERE’S HOW IT works. Every week, we choose six of the weekend’s biggest sporting events. Then we ask six of’s finest minds to have their say. Come Monday, everybody looks and feels a little bit sillier than usual.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the Pick 6.

Meet this week’s pickers *drumroll*:

  • Steven O’Rourke: last week’s winner and not afraid to shout about it
  • Fintan O’Toole: currently re-writing the lyrics to Jimmy’s Winning Matches
  • Sean Farrell: practicing his pronunciation of Tendai Mtawarira
  • Niall Kelly: watching Goodfellas this weekend
  • Paul Fennessy: owner of the wooden spoon
  • Patrick McCarry: BFF of Jonny Sexton

Guinness Series: Ireland (+5 points) v South Africa

SOR: The loss of any of Brian O’Driscoll, Sean O’Brien, Rob Kearney or Paul O’Connell would make winning this weekend difficult. Losing them all (plus Best and Ferris) makes it virtually impossible. South Africa for me.

FOT: They may have a decent record against South Africa and will be motivated to bounce back after the horror show against New Zealand but having so many stars on the treatment table will be critical. A lack of patriotism here but I’ll go for South Africa to beat the handicap.

SF: Hmm, +5 makes it interesting. Until Declan Kidney named his team, I thought this could get embarrassing. But with Mike McCarthy and so many new faces eager to prove themselves and the need to put a performance after that night in Hamilton, I think Ireland will put in a very decent display. A win would be a shock, but +5? Yeah, I’ll take that.

NK: A definite case of heart ruling head. If Ireland are to have any chance against the Boks, they will have to be competitive at the breakdown. Although Ferris and O’Brien are missing, I really fancy our new-look back row with O’Mahony and Henry and think we might just sneak this one. I’ll be wrong, of course…

PF: Ireland have had a decent record playing at home in these types of matches in recent years, and while I’m not overly confident of a victory on account of our numerous absentees through injury, I think it’ll be a close game, and the +5 means I can’t resist a cheeky bet on them.

PMcC: Ireland to sneak it but by a tight margin. We’ve a very good front-row in there and that’s not a shabby back-row either. The slick conditions tomorrow mean both teams should be scoring somewhere in the teens.

Leinster SFC quarter-final: Sarsfields v St Patrick’s (Louth)

SOR: Kildare born and bred, I probably would have picked Sarsfields even if St Patrick’s weren’t conceding home advantage in this one. I think there’ll only be a point in it either way.

FOT: St Patrick’s sprung a surprise in the last round when they toppled Offaly side Rhode and Paddy Keenan is a towering presence in the middle of the pitch. But on home soil and with Alan Smith a danger in attack, Sarsfields should have enough to prevail.

SF: To hell with home advantage, gonna row in behind St Patrick’s inspirational captain Paddy Keenan. Go get the W boys!

NK: Even without Dermot Earley, Sarsfields should have enough in the tank to see off the Louth men. Home win for me please, Jeff.

PF: Sarsfields are playing at home and have some very good players in their side, so I fancy them to do it, albeit by a narrow margin.

PMcC: Sarsfields have home advantage so I’m picking them over a Patrick’s side with a couple of decent O’Connors in the mix.

Munster SHC semi-final: Newmarket v De La Salle

SOR: As I said above, I’m from Kildare which isn’t exactly a hurling hotbed. However, De La Salle have two Munster championships under their belt in the last four years and that’s good enough for me.

FOT: Clare’s most successful club will have celebrated their recent county title win rapturously after 31 frustrating years without silverware. They’ll be buoyed by that but their opponents, provincial champions in 2008 and 2010, are old hands at this stage. John Mullane and Kevin Moran can ensure De La Salle have a rewarding trip to Clare.

SF: Clare hurling is, without question, back on an upward curve, but the experience at this level and De La Salle’s All-Star will be the difference.

NK: I tossed a coin for this one and it came up heads. I’ve no idea what that means so I’ll go with De La Salle. Dessies abú.

PF: De La Salle are the more experienced side, having been there and done it before as far as the Munster Championship is concerned, so I fancy them to progress.

PMcC: De La Salle have some heavy-hitters in their line-up but I’m taking my biggest risk of the week for saying Newmarket here.

Premier League: Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur

SOR: City certainly don’t look the team they were last year and, even then, it took a 95th minute penalty for them to beat Spurs in January. There has only been one draw in their last five meetings so, by default, it has to be Manchester City for me.

FOT: So will it be a Mancini meltdown or some AVB aggro? Neither boss has seen their side cover themselves in glory over the past week and they’ll demand a recovery. Fence-sitting time, I’ll go for a draw at the Etihad.

SF: Spurs’ theory will be “If we can win in Old Trafford…,” but it doesn’t work like that. However, edgy Roberto Mancini is watching his side ineptly ponder through European games, when they return to the Premier league their focus magically returns. Could it be they didn’t know enough about Siem de Jong and Ajax to rate them? City by at least two.

NK: City have been utterly uninspiring so far this season but as their Champions League campaign stumbles along in a fog of zonal marking blather, they’ll be desperate to bounce back. Still, I think Spurs will be good enough to come away with a draw.

PF: Both sides have shown indifferent form of late, so it’s hard to call. Spurs did beat United away from home, so they are clearly capable of winning these types of games, but then again, they also lost to Wigan at home recently. Their defence looks unconvincing, while City have at least been solid if not spectacular in the Premier League, so I’ll go with them.

PMcC: Spurs seem to have no backbone about them this season – Scottie Parker hurry up and get un-Achilles’-ed. City have been inept on a few occasions this year but I predict they’ll win this one by a couple of goals.

Premier League: Chelsea v Liverpool

SOR: Normally I would take the next two sentences to explain how this is actually a really tough decision to make based on blah, blah, blah. But let’s face it, Liverpool are terrible and Chelsea look brilliant. Chelsea for the win.

FOT: The presence of Luis Suarez will give Liverpool hope but coming up against the triumvirate of Oscar, Mata and Hazard, it’s hard not to see Brad Jones having to pick the ball out of the net a few times here. Chelsea to win.

SF: Gotta go with the home advantage again, and not least because the European champions have a good 22 hours rest plus the absence of a flight from Russia as an advantage. Chelsea’s defence is in question having conceded six goals in five home games, but I don’t believe Liverpool have a cutting edge to break through. Chelsea — and they’ll do it with style.

NK: If you believe Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool have been “outstanding” in their last two games — a 1-1 draw and a 1-0 defeat if you need reminding. If that’s the Reds at the peak of their current potential, Chelsea should have no problem winning by a goal or two.

PF: Chelsea are another club who have dropped the ball slightly in recent times, while Liverpool have improved, after their dreadful start to the season. But when you break the game down, Chelsea simply have the better players and are playing at home, so I think they’ll prevail.

PMcC: I’m backing Chelsea on this one and more misery for Brendan Rodgers. Chelsea are nowhere near the finished article but Hazard and Mata, especially, are running amok.

NFL: Houston Texans v Chicago Bears

SOR: If you read my Redzone column earlier this week, you’ll know I think the Texans will win this because they don’t turn the ball over enough for the Bears to capitalise.

FOT: I hear that the Texans are good on the road. I also hear that the Bears are good at home. Sitting on that fence again looks tempting but our expert in his Redzone Column goes for the Texans. As do I

SF: Whatever you say about Jay Cutler, he’s still standing, he’s still throwing balls and he’s still leading Chicago to more wins than losses. Last week’s blitz of Tennessee shouldn’t be taken as an omen. This one will be tight but I’m going against the Redzone grain in saying the Bears’ smothering defence and home advantage will keep Matt Schaub (relatively) quiet.

NK: The infuriatingly inconsistent Jay Cutler vs Texans sacking machine JJ Watt? Against my better judgement, I like dem Bears to get the job done on Sunday night.

PF: While the Bears are regarded by most as favourites, Houston have never lost to them and therefore, should have the psychological advantage going into the game. Consequently, I’m going with them.

PMcC: I was going to go Texans on this one but, like Monty Burns, I’ve had a last-minute change of heart and think the Bears will triumph at Soldier Field. If I’m wrong, I’ll just copy and paste Steven’s NFL predictions from now on.

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