Preview: Weekend’s Allianz Football League action:

Allianz Football League Division One
Saturday 25th February
Kerry v Armagh, Austin Stack Park, 5pm, RTE 2
Mayo v Tyrone, Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, 7pm, TG4

Sunday 26th February
Donegal v Galway, O’Donnell Park, 12.30pm, TG4
Monaghan v Roscommon, St Tiernach’s Park, 2.30pm

It has been an eventful start to the Allianz Football League with important matches arriving thick and fast.

Having only gleaned two points from a possible six so far, All-Ireland champions Kerry will be especially eager to impress on home turf against Armagh.

Last Saturday’s disappointing defeat to Mayo was a blow, but the return of David Clifford is a significant boost for Jack O’Connor’s team.

Injuries and player unavailability has restricted Kerry in the opening rounds, but there is a stronger cut to the panel now.

Armagh, though, will be seeking to respond following a defeat against Roscommon, who have thundered into the reckoning in this competition.

Jason Duffy’s direct running hurt Roscommon with Kieran McGeeney’s evolving team capable of causing Kerry some difficulties.

The other Saturday evening fixture promises to be lively with a passionate audience set to gather in Castlebar for Mayo’s latest engagement with Tyrone.

Prompted by Jordan Flynn, Aidan O’Shea, and Ryan O’Donoghue, Mayo enjoyed a hugely encouraging triumph over Kerry.

That stirring success followed draws with Galway and Armagh so Kevin McStay will be heartened by how Mayo have shown glimpses of real ability.

Tyrone weren’t sufficiently clinical when beaten by Galway at Tuam Stadium, so they need a positive performance.

Ensuring Darren McCurry, Cathal McShane, and Darragh Canavan are afforded enough possession inside the scoring zone is one of the missions Fergal Logan and Brian Dooher’s outfit will want to accomplish.

At Letterkenny on Sunday, Donegal will be primed for Galway’s visit.

Paddy McBrearty’s loss through injury is the latest setback Paddy Carr has been forced to deal with.

The first weekend culminated with a fine win over Kerry, but since then Donegal have been unfortunate.

Hope will certainly be attached to Oisín Gallen’s return, but Galway impressed in the second period during the victory over Tyrone.

Matthew Tierney was immense, while Paul Conroy and Jack Glynn were others who made telling contributions when the issue was delicately poised.

St Tiernach’s Park provides the backdrop for a crucial encounter involving Monaghan and Roscommon.

Davy Burke’s Roscommon have generated momentum, accumulating three victories on the spin, while also increasing the depth of the panel.

Ben O’Carroll has been prominent in attack, while Keith Doyle, impressive in the Connacht FBD League, has also delivered for Roscommon.

Monaghan did what was required against Donegal with Conor McManus’ late cameo instrumental on an afternoon when Darren Hughes and Stephen O’Hanlon starred.

Similar levels must be attained because Roscommon are moving along nicely.

Allianz Football League Division Two
Saturday 25th February
Dublin v Clare, Croke Park, 7pm

Sunday 26th February
Kildare v Derry, St Conleth’s Park, 2pm, BBC iPlayer
Meath v Louth, Páirc Tailteann, 2pm
Cork v Limerick, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 3.45pm

Considering the Championship implications, unsurprisingly Division Two has been highly competitive.

Dublin eventually shrugged off Cork’s spirited resistance at Páirc Uí Chaoimh with Jack McCaffrey making a welcome return to the inter-county arena.

The pacy Clontarf clubman adds another dimension to a Dublin panel with a real mix of emerging and established players.

Daire Newcombe was prominent in the Cork triumph with Dessie Farrell set to maintain the policy of affording young players opportunities.

Clare will have been bitterly disappointed to have lost against Kildare, who finished strongly at Cusack Park.

Colm Collins, still providing valuable leadership and direction, will be enthused by the fact that so many Clare players featured in the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup.

A game at GAA headquarters against an accomplished Dublin team will be a stern and revealing test.

With Neil Flynn and Daniel Flynn supplying the guidance and scores, Kildare edged out Clare.

Now Glenn Ryan’s Lilywhites host Derry, who have been extremely efficient in the opening few weeks of 2023.

Rory Gallagher’s Ulster champions have taken maximum points with Pádraig McGrogan and Shane McGuigan flourishing for Derry, who will afford Kildare the utmost respect.

Boosted by a Sam Mulroy inspired win over Limerick, Louth make the short journey to Páirc Tailteann for a crucial fixture against Meath.

Having gleaned two victories initially, Meath were well beaten by Derry at Owenbeg.

Responding to that setback, though, is precisely what Colm O’Rourke will want to do as Meath will still want to remain in the race for promotion.

Down south Cork, with Brian Hurley effective, are back in action Leeside against Limerick.

Ray Dempsey’s team have suffered three losses in a row, but were unlucky against Louth.

To maintain Division Two status Limerick know that victories must be registered soon, but Cork are one of four teams on two points so their need is great also.

Allianz Football League Division Three
Saturday 25th February
Antrim v Fermanagh, Corrigan Park, 2pm
Down v Westmeath, Páirc Esler, 6pm

Sunday 26th February
Offaly v Cavan, Glenisk O’Connor Park, 2pm
Longford v Tipperary, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 2pm

Every year Division Three provides plenty of thrills and spills. That is proving the case once more with Cavan the only competitor to come through the first three rounds unscathed.

Mickey Graham’s team have gleaned maximum points, but they face an awkward assignment away to Offaly in Tullamore.

With Liam Kearns at the helm Offaly are seeking to integrate promising young players into the senior fold.

This is a vital game for the Faithful, who know that a second loss would leave them in a difficult position.

Cavan drifted from Division One to Four, but they will be aware that a fourth straight victory would edge them closer to a second successive promotion.

Longford and Tipperary have endured heavy defeats thus far in the league so the clash in the midlands is really important for both teams.

David Power’s plans for the campaign have been badly hit by unfortunate injuries to key performers.

Early in the year Paddy Christie’s Longford enjoyed an O’Byrne Cup triumph, but the current objective is to retain Division Three status.

At Corrigan Park Antrim’s encounter against Fermanagh should be a keenly contested affair.

Darragh McGurn was outstanding as Fermanagh defeated Down, a result that brought two points and also an injection of optimism.

Antrim, though, will believe that progress can be made under Andy McEntee and this match carries real importance for the home side at Corrigan Park.

The Páirc Esler tussle between Down and Westmeath is pivotal too.

With both counties on four points, whoever prevails will be very much in the promotion race.

Following an opening weekend defeat to Cavan, Dessie Dolan’s Westmeath have subsequently claimed two wins.

Having lost a thriller against Fermanagh, Down, with Conor Laverty making an impact as manager, will want to summon an instant response.

Allianz Football League Division Four
Saturday 25th February
Waterford v Wexford, SETU Arena, 4pm
Laois v Wicklow, Laois Hire O’Moore Park, 7pm

Sunday 26th February
London v Sligo, McGovern Park, 1pm
Leitrim v Carlow, Avant Money Páirc Seán MacDiarmada, 2pm

Progress can be measured in different ways, but Laois will be satisfied how the league is unfolding.

Paul Kingston has been in brilliant form for Billy Sheehan’s team, who host Wicklow on Saturday evening.

Wicklow, with Oisín McConville in charge, have shown glimpses of potential, so this will be a revealing game.

Waterford, who are the only county without a point in Division Four, face Wexford on Saturday.

John Hegarty’s Wexford produced a dynamic display to overcome Leitrim last weekend – a result that means they still have a realistic chance of pushing for promotion.

That is what Sligo want to do too with Tony McEntee’s charges away to London on Sunday in Ruislip.

Sligo travel to Ruislip in the Connacht SFC in April also with Michael Maher’s improving side intent on taking a couple of scalps in 2023.

In Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim meet Carlow – a game involving two counties, who were beaten last weekend.