Preview: Weekend’s Allianz Football League action:
Allianz Football League Division One
Sunday 26th March
Galway v Kerry, Pearse Stadium, 1.45pm, TG4
Roscommon v Donegal, Dr Hyde Park, 1.45pm
Tyrone v Armagh, O’Neill’s Healy Park, 1.45pm
Mayo v Monaghan, Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, 1.45pm
Matthew Tierney’s late goal at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds sealed a satisfying success for Galway against Armagh.
It was a victory that preserved Allianz Football League Division One status, but also ensured Galway’s meeting with Kerry – a repeat of the 2022 All-Ireland SFC Final – carries relevance.
Depending on results elsewhere both counties have an opportunity to reach next weekend’s decider against Mayo.
For Galway and Kerry, though, the fact that emerging players have been afforded plenty of minutes in the competition provides a source of optimism.
Without a raft of players, Kerry suffered some defeats early in the year, but the win over Roscommon – with the returning Gavin White impressing – highlighted the Kingdom’s ability.
It has been an encouraging stint for Mayo, who host Monaghan in Castlebar on Sunday afternoon.
Kevin McStay and his experienced management team have enjoyed a productive spell ahead of the Connacht SFC clash with Roscommon on April 9.
That is a date etched in Mayo and Roscommon minds, but the green and red outfit will be delighted to have won four and drawn two matches so far.
The crafty contributions made by Jordan Flynn, Diarmuid O’Connor, Jack Carney, and Aidan O’Shea throughout the league have been noteworthy.
Mayo appear to be moving swiftly in the right direction, but Monaghan will be a team with a cause this weekend.
Requiring a victory and results elsewhere to go their way, Monaghan face an anxious afternoon. These types of hurdles have been cleared previously by Monaghan. It is the type of defiance Vinny Corey will hope his players can demonstrate.
It has been a mixed campaign for Tyrone, but the spirit and skill shown when beating Monaghan bodes well.
Brian Kennedy was influential, while the Canavans bring subtlety and scoring ability in attack.
Having assumed a healthy position, Armagh will have been disappointed to lose against Galway. Kieran McGeeney’s panel is sprinkled with accomplished players, who will be intent on responding in Omagh.
Roscommon thundered into the league initially, but they host Donegal in a vital fixture at Dr Hyde Park.
Paddy Carr stepped down as Donegal manager during the week, while Roscommon will want to finish the league with a home success.
Davy Burke’s charges won their first three fixtures, but have subsequently lost three. With the Championship assignment against Mayo edging closer, Roscommon will be striving to register a win to guarantee Division One status for 2024.
Allianz Football League Division Two
Sunday 26th March
Clare v Limerick, Cusack Park, 2pm
Dublin v Louth, Croke Park, 2pm
Kildare v Meath, St Conleth’s Park, 2pm
Cork v Derry, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 2pm
Louth’s Allianz Football League form under Mickey Harte’s stewardship has been remarkable.
With a couple of promotions already achieved, Louth will be eager to complete a hat-trick at GAA headquarters on Sunday.
Undoubtedly it will be a demanding task, but Louth head for Croke Park heartened, armed with belief and momentum.
The victory over Cork was achieved because of a steely display with goalkeeper James Califf and Tommy Durnin instrumental.
Dublin, though, will be formdiable opponents as proven by the manner in which Dessie Farrell’s outfit overcame Meath.
Killian O’Gara clipped 1-3, while Con O’Callaghan was also in potent form in attack. Brian Fenton remains a relevant figure for Dublin, who will want to make an instant return to Division One.
With Derry already qualified for the Division Two Final the Páirc Uí Chaoimh clash against Cork may provide Rory Gallagher with an opportunity to afford panel members some game time.
Clare and Limerick are already relegated so their meeting at Cusack Park doesn’t carry too much weight.
The only other real talking point is the other participating counties will want to finish as high up the table as possible due to the new Championship format.
That means the St Conleth’s Park match between Kildare and Meath should be keenly contested.
A home win for Kildare would edge the Lilywhites ahead of Meath in the standings.
Allianz Football League Division Three
Saturday 25th March
Longford v Antrim, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 3.30pm
Sunday 26th March
Cavan v Fermanagh, Kingspan Breffni, 2pm
Westmeath v Tipperary, TEG Cusack Park, 2pm
Offaly v Down, Glenisk O’Connor Park, 2pm
There is rarely any shortage of drama in Division Three with Antrim’s win over Cavan last weekend an obvious example.
That proved to be an exciting match, but Cavan’s first five wins have been sufficient to earn promotion.
Who will join Mickey Graham’s team in Division Two next year, though, is the question that will be answered this weekend.
Following an impressive campaign so far, Fermanagh travel to Kingspan Breffni for a crucial encounter.
Kieran Donnelly’s outfit eked out an important victory over Westmeath with Che Cullen and Lee Cullen delivering dynamic displays.
Darragh McGurn has impressed too for Fermanagh, who will be hoping to secure a place in the Division Three Final.
Offaly still have a chance of securing a top two finish if they can overcome Down and Cavan defeat Fermanagh.
Bernard Allen and Ruairi McNamee have landed some vital scores during the league so far and the Faithful County will be hoping to earn another home win.
It has been an extremely difficult time following the tragic passing of Liam Kearns, but Offaly footballers continue to show signs of improvement.
On Saturday, Longford, who have been relegated, host Antrim at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park.
Paddy McBride and Odhran Eastwood starred for Andy McEntee’s team against Cavan as they continue to prepare for the Ulster Championship.
In Mullingar on Sunday, Tailteann Cup champions Westmeath face Tipperary, who have struggled without a string of key injured players this year.
Allianz Football League Division Four
Saturday 25th March
Wexford v Carlow, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 5.30pm
Sunday 26th March
London v Laois, McGovern Park, 1pm
Waterford v Wicklow, Fraher Field, 1pm
Leitrim v Sligo, Avant Money Páirc Seán MacDiarmada, 1pm
An exciting weekend of Allianz Football League Division Four action beckons.
Tony McEntee’s Sligo currently top the table, but they face an awkward assignment against Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon.
Sligo, with Seán Carrabine impressing, have accumulated 10 points and a draw in Leitrim would be enough to earn Division Three status.
Leitrim, with Andy Moran in charge, are a free scoring team, prompted by the excellent Keith Beirne, who are striving to operate at a higher level also.
Laois and Wicklow are very much involved in the promotion race, while Wexford have an outside chance of earning a top two berth.
At McGovern Park London host Laois, who have suffered disappointing losses recently to Wicklow and Leitrim.
Responding to the Leitrim setback is crucial for a Paul Kingston inspired Laois.
Oisín McConville’s Wicklow have improved as the league has progressed with Dean Healy to the fore.
Wicklow travel to Fraher on Sunday, hoping that a victory might be sufficient for them if results elsewhere are favourable.
John Hegarty is building a solid foundation with Wexford, who are at home to neighbours Carlow on Saturday evening.