Preview: ROUND 5 OF ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE
DIVISION 1: Saturday: 7pm: Kerry v Dublin, Tralee; Donegal v Tyrone, Ballybofey.
Sunday: 2pm: Mayo v Cavan, Elverys MacHale Park; Monaghan v Roscommon, Iniskeen.
Saturday night fever comes to Tralee when Kerry hosts All-Ireland champions and Allianz League champions, Dublin in a sell-out at Austin Stack Park. The great Kerry-Dublin rivalry is set for another fascinating episode, with the All-Ireland champions seeking to extend their unbeaten run to 34 games. Kerry were the last team to beat Jim Gavin’s men (0-15 to 1-10, Allianz League on 1st March 2015 in Killarney).
Dublin are currently second on the table on six points, one behind Tyrone, while Kerry are in fifth place with four points.
Tyrone (7 points) head for Ballybofey, attempting to remain at the head of affairs as they take on Donegal (5 points), whom they beat by two points in last year’s Ulster final.
Mayo (4 points) and Cavan (one point) meet in the League for the first time since 2003 when the Breffni men won by 1-16 to 0-11. Cavan are seeking their first win in this year’s League, having lost to Dublin, Donegal and Tyrone, with their only point coming in a draw against Monaghan.
Roscommon are even worse off, having lost all four games (Tyrone, Donegal, Mayo, Kerry). In fact, if they lose to Monaghan and Mayo and Kerry earn even a point each, Kevin McStay’s men will be playing in Division 2 next year, irrespective of how they fare in their last two games against Dublin and Cavan.
Monaghan have won two, lost one and drawn one of four games and are currently in fourth place on the table.
DIVISION 2: Saturday 7pm: Down v Kildare, Newry.
Sunday 2pm: Fermanagh v Clare, Enniskillen; Cork v Meath, Pairc Ui Rinn; Galway v Derry, Tuam Stadium.
Four points separate top (Kildare on six points) and bottom (Fermanagh on two points). Leaders, Kildare head for Newry to play a revitalised Down - a team that emerged from a long losing run to win two successive games against Meath and Derry. Having been relegated from Division 1 last year, Down are now back in promotion contention. They won the last League clash with Kildare, 3-13 to 1-15 in 2015 (Division 2).
Galway lost their unbeaten record in their last game when they were edged out by Meath but are still in second place (on scoring difference ahead of Clare) as they prepare to play Derry (3 points) in Tuam.
Cork were fancied for a quick return to Division 1 after being relegated at the end of last season but have taken only three of a possible eight points, leaving them in sixth place. They are a point adrift of Meath, who have won two and lost two games.
Clare, who were promoted from Division 3 for this year’s campaign, have done very well at the higher level, taking five of eight points, a tally they will hope to increase against bottom-of-the-table Fermanagh (2 points).
DIVISION 3: Sunday 2pm: Antrim v Laois, Corrigan Park, Belfast; Louth v Armagh, Drogheda; Longford v Sligo, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park; Offaly v Tipperary, Tullamore. 2.0.
Louth’s Allianz League results leave them well-placed to go from Divisions 4 to 2 in successive seasons. They host third-placed Armagh, who have won two, drawn one and lost once so far.
After reaching last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, Tipperary were fancied to be strong promotion contenders this year.
They are in second place behind Louth on six points as they prepare to play Offaly, who have dropped to the bottom of the table on scoring difference after losing to Armagh by 30 points in the last round.
Laois are also in relegation trouble after losing three of four games and are now at risk of dropping from Divisions 2 to 4 in successive seasons. They play Antrim, who are also on two points but with a one-point better scoring difference. It’s Longford v Sligo in the fourth game, with the westerners on five points, three ahead of Longford.
DIVISION 4: Saturday 7.30pm: Carlow v Waterford, Netwatch Cullen Park,
Sunday 2pm: Wexford v London, Innovate Wexford Park, 1.0; Limerick v Leitrim, Newcastlewest; Westmeath v Wicklow, TEG Cusack Park, 2.0.
After winning all four games so far, Wexford could clinch promotion if they beat London. If they win and Waterford and Leitrim (both are on four points) fail to take full points, Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney’s men will be guaranteed promotion and a return to Division 3 after two seasons in Division 4.
Westmeath (7 points), who are also well-placed to return to Division 3 at the first attempt, have home advantage against Wicklow (one win from four games). Waterford and Leitrim will be hoping for wins over Carlow and Limerick respectively and for the top two to slip up.