Preview: Weekend’s Allianz Football League Finals:

Sunday 31st March

Allianz Football League Division One Final

Dublin v Derry in Croke Park at 4pm, TG4

Plenty of sub plots surround an eagerly anticipated game at Croke Park.

Twelve months ago this was the Division Two decider, but Derry’s improvement has continued.

In the intervening days Derry claimed another Ulster title, while Dublin added Leinster and All-Ireland crowns to a glittering collection.

The early rounds of the league featured two defeats for Dublin, who have responded by simply reeling off five victories on the spin.

Last weekend’s ruthless dismissal of Tyrone featured Con O’Callaghan and Colm Basquel in excellent attacking form.

Seán McMahon, Cian Murphy, and Killian McGinnis were also prominent for Dessie Farrell’s team.

Derry, prompted by Ethan Doherty and Lachlan Murray, eventually shrugged off Roscommon’s resistance at Celtic Park.

It is only five years since Derry defeated Leitrim in the Division Four Final, but they have evolved since then.

Mickey Harte and Gavin Devlin will be satisfied with how the first three months of 2024 have unfolded.

Chrissy McKaigue, Conor McCluskey, Brendan Rogers, Conor Glass, and Shane McGuigan are class and consistent footballers for Derry, who will embrace the Dublin challenge at Croke Park.

Allianz Football League Division Two Final
Armagh v Donegal in Croke Park at 1.45pm, TG4

Armagh and Donegal bring proud unbeaten records to Croke Park on Sunday afternoon.

Donegal topped the group on 13 points from a possible 14, while two draws meant Armagh were only one behind on 12.

The initial promotion target has been secured, but both teams will now be eager to make a pre Ulster Championship statement.

Injuries to Ryan McHugh and Paddy McBrearty disturbed Donegal last weekend against Meath.

Jim McGuinness’ return as Donegal manager has generated positivity and momentum. In the league Peadar Mogan, Jamie Brennan, and Oisín Gallen have also demonstrated their considerable ability.

Armagh, though, have made smooth progress too with Kieran McGeeney enthused about Oisín Conaty’s development.

Stefan Campbell, Rory Grugan, and Andrew Murnin are others producing for Armagh.

Saturday 30th March
Allianz Football League Division Three Final
Down v Westmeath in Croke Park at 5pm, TG4

Once again Division Three of the Allianz Football League was full of thrills and spills, but Down and Westmeath did enough to secure promotion.

When the two counties drew in the second last round, Clare remained in the promotion race.

Last Sunday, though, Down delivered another splendid display to overcome Clare. Westmeath were beaten by Sligo at Markievicz Park, but Dessie Dolan’s charges had still done enough earlier in the competition to claim a top two finish.

Returning to Division Two means a lot for the long term aims of Down and Westmeath, but attaining silverware at Croke Park is the current aim.

Conor Laverty’s clever work with Down is illustrated by the fact six wins and one draw were registered in seven matches.

Odhran Murdock and Pat Havern remain influential figures, while Ceilum Doherty has starred in the league campaign, thundering forward at every available opportunity.

There is a nice blend of emerging and established footballers in the Westmeath panel.

Ronan O’Toole and Luke Loughlin provide a potent attacking threat for Westmeath.

Allianz Football League Division Four Final
Leitrim v Laois in Croke Park at 7.15pm, TG4

This should be a lively encounter at GAA headquarters between two counties delighted to have attained promotion.

Leitrim’s morale boosting success over Laois late in the group phase was a key victory.

It was Justin McNulty’s outfit only loss in seven and they responded in style against Waterford.

Mark Barry was in good scoring form in the victory over Waterford, while McNulty will be encouraged by Killian Roche, Damon Larkin, and Paul Kingston are others, who have impressed in the league.

Barry McNulty’s winning score against Laois was a significant moment for Andy Moran’s team.

That triumph was followed with a solid success over Tipperary, illustrating Leitrim’s potential.

When Leitrim required inspiration Ryan O’Rourke contributed handsomely against Laois and Tipperary. Darragh Rooney has also enjoyed a productive stint in the league.