Allianz Football League previews
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Allianz Football League previews

Division 1

Saturday February 28

Tyrone v Derry

Sunday March 1

Kerry v Dublin

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Donegal v Cork

Mayo v Monaghan

IT was always likely to be a furious scrap for survival so this weekend’s fixtures are relevant.  Tyrone claimed a morale boosting success in Castlebar over Mayo helping to cleanse the Monaghan defeat from their system.  Now the Saturday night Omagh battle with a pumped up Derry, who’ve been beaten by Donegal and Kerry, brings another challenge. 

The collision of the Old Firm in Killarney always brings fanciful historical debates, but the present is all that truly bothers Eamonn Fitzmaurice and Jim Gavin.  Kerry and Dublin have won one and lost one so this encounter promises to be interesting, if not utterly defining.

Donegal finished well to outfox Derry, but Dublin had the depth and resolve to deal with them at Croke Park.  Cork head north buoyed up by a satisfactory opening to the year, but that is all it is: a start.

The easy talk about Mayo centres on how Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly hope to unearth a couple of forwards for the summer, but the reality is that the League campaign is very much about summoning a few purposeful performances.  One was delivered in Kerry, the Tyrone reversal proving a subsequent setback.  Monaghan are precisely the type of rugged team Holmes and Conneely will want to test themselves against.

Division 2

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Saturday February 28

Cavan v Down

Sunday March 1

Galway v Laois

Kildare v Westmeath

Roscommon v Meath

Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday will tell plenty about Cavan and Down’s promotion prospects.  Following the disappointment of 2014 Cavan have commenced this year brightly, but Down need points too.

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Galway will be hoping to record a third win on the spin at Tuam Stadium, but the memory of two O’Moore Park hammerings in recent campaigns will be enough to remind them of Laois’ potential.

Westmeath have shown signs of improvement recently so their trip to Newbridge is a clash worth monitoring.  Kildare have been caught out twice late on so Jason Ryan will want to climb the table.  Roscommon have the cut of an eager young team intent on going places, but which Meath will go west.  The surprisingly accommodating Royals who allowed Galway dictate at Pearse Stadium or the potent, running side which finished the job efficiently in the dying stages against Kildare?

Division 3

Sunday March 1

Clare v Sligo

Fermanagh v Tipperary

Limerick v Armagh

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Louth v Wexford

Podge Collins. Photo:INPHO Clare footballer Podge Collins. Photo:INPHO

Podge Collins spoke during the week about Clare’s focus being fimly on the upcoming tussle with Sligo, who are pointless.  Clare and Sligo crave a victory, whoever takes the spoils will earn them.

Fermanagh have been industrious so far quietly accumulating two triumphs, but Tipperary make the long trek to Enniskillen keen to make a statement on the road.

Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh are the class in this field, but they know awkward assignments will continue to crop up.  Limerick went through difficult spells when torched by Tipp, but they’ll be anxious to pose problems for the much vaunted visitors’.  Louth will want to maximise home advantage when entertaining Wexford, who have fallen to Armagh and Clare.

Division 4

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Saturday February 28

London v Longford

Waterford v Carlow

Sunday March 1

Wicklow v Offaly

Leitrim v Antrim

Offaly manager Pat Flanagan has made no secret of his expectations so he will be seeking to continue the Faithful’s journey back to respectability even if Wicklow away can be tricky.  McGrath Cup winners Waterford host Carlow in a vital joust, while Leitrim and Antrim feel they should be competing at the top of this tier.

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London’s courage and commitment levels have impressed so far in 2015, but Longford will enter the Emerald GAA Grounds in Ruislip on Saturday with one of the better forward units in this pool.  How Longford adapt to the conditions and London’s enthusiasm will be significant.