Previews: todays Allianz Football League Finals:
Sunday 2nd April
Allianz Football League Division One Final
Mayo v Galway, Croke Park, 4pm, TG4
It has been an Allianz Football League campaign brimful of positives for Mayo and Galway.
Earnest from the opening night in Castlebar, Mayo and Galway can reflect with real satisfaction on how different challenges have been embraced during the past couple of months.
Matches have arrived thick and fast, but the depth of both panels is increasing. That is precisely what both managements wanted to achieve.
Injuries and club commitments ensured Galway had to adapt to various situations, but the minutes Johnny McGrath, Seán Fitzgerald, Cian Hernon, Daniel O’Flaherty, John Maher, and Cathal Sweeney have accumulated is significant.
Peter Cooke’s return to the fold is another significant boost for Galway, who will be fully aware of the threat Mayo pose.
Kevin McStay assembled a high profile and well respected backroom team. The early indications suggest Mayo are moving briskly in the right direction.
Inevitably Lee Keegan, such a totemic figure for the past decade, retired, and Oisín Mullin’s move to Australia, were blows McStay had to deal with.
Even in the Connacht FBD League it was apparent that Mayo were eager to make an impact early in the year. Jordan Flynn and Mattie Ruane were prominent in that competition and have remained hugely relevant.
Diarmuid O’Connor has been typically industrious for Mayo, who have also carried out a number of auditions.
Jack Carney has had productive moments in the league, Aidan O’Shea provides leadership and a focal point inside, while Ryan O’Donoghue still craves involvement.
A few spins for Tommy Conroy following a severe knee injury means Mayo have taken plenty of positives so far in 2023.
Undoubtedly the April 9 Connacht Championship tussle against Roscommon is on the mind, but the opportunity to earn national silverware at Croke Park will interest the green and red.
That will certainly be the case considering neighbours Galway provide the opposition. Galway, though, are relevant again on the national stage so Pádraic Joyce will have the maroon outfit primed. It could go the distance.
Allianz Football League Division Two Final
Dublin v Derry, Croke Park, 1.45pm, TG4
Another revealing encounter looms at Croke Park on Sunday.
The group match involving these two teams at Celtic Park provided plenty of drama and talking points.
Ultimately, a Brendan Rogers inspired second half comeback ensured Derry gleaned a valuable victory.
The Dublin scalp is always prized so Derry will now want to produce a similarly determined display in the capital.
Since that game Dublin have been further bolstered by Stephen Cluxton’s return to the panel. Paul Mannion mined a point in the victory over Louth last Sunday so Dublin’s options are increasing by the day.
Derry, though, are a well organised and coached team, who have developed under Rory Gallagher’s guidance.
Last year’s Ulster Championship adventure ensured Derry are a serious and respected force once again. Any team containing Chrissy McKaigue and Shane McGuigan at either end of the field has craft.
Ethan Doherty remains a bright and busy figure for Derry, who will relish this assignment at the Jones Road venue.
Dessie Farrell’s Dublin showed glimpses of class in the league, simply doing enough to earn an instant return to the top tier.
Decorated footballers are sprinkled across the panel with Brian Fenton and James McCarthy occupying crucial roles.
This should be a lively affair ahead of the Championship.