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Allianz Football League previews

Division 1

Saturday March 28

Dublin v Derry

Sunday March 29

Cork v Mayo

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Donegal v Tyrone

Kerry v Monaghan

TWO teams craving points for different reasons collide at Croke Park on Saturday evening. 

Dublin want a semi-final berth, Derry need a win to remain in the Division.  It is simple for the visitors, a defeat relegates them so they will hope to be resourceful and resilient.

Slowly, but surely returning to full strength Jim Gavin’s team will want to build on their comprehensive success over Mayo.  That was a significant performance - acting as a statement of intent.

Mayo will be hoping to make one themselves as they seek to summon a response Leeside against table toppers Derry.  Colm O’Neill’s efficient spring has assisted Cork, who can expect a demanding afternoon.

Donegal and Tyrone know the implications a defeat will bring on Sunday.  For that reason alone it should be a gripping game as both teams want to avoid the drop.  Whoever is beaten will be in serious danger so a physical and feisty encounter is imminent.

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The losers of Kerry and Monaghan could also be dragged into a final day scrap so that is another fixture carrying importance.  Two rounds remain so everybody will want to maximise the 140 minutes of competitive football before Championship.

Division 2

Saturday March 28

Down v Meath

Cavan v Westmeath

Laois v Kildare

Sunday March 29

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Roscommon v Galway

Having produced a splendid display to thump Westmeath Jim McCorry’s Down outfit appear to be motoring smoothly again.

A fine comeback win over Galway hinted at Down’s potential so they are heavily involved in a promotion push.  Meath, though, will harbour similar aspirations at this stage too having recovered from a lethargic start to post a few decent results.  Getting another victory at Newry is the target.

It is so tight in this Division that six of the teams could be either promoted or relegated.  Cavan and Westmeath both fit into that category.  Martin Dunne’s subtle kicking guided Cavan to a triumph over Galway.  Tom Cribbin’s honesty approach has earned praise and plaudits from loyal Westmeath followers, who are heartened by their improvement.  Points are what Westmeath want now.

Laois’ performance at Tuam Stadium last Sunday provided a further drop of hope.  Keeping Galway scoreless for the entire second half ensured a satisfactory road win was plundered.  Kildare, anxious to avoid a second successive relegation, are unlikely to be too accommodating, though.

John Evans’ work with Roscommon is being seen by a wider audience now.  In last year’s league Roscommon scorched through Division Three.  They are a more streetwise unit now; Mayo will testify to that following the Connacht Championship scare the Green and Red received last summer.

Division 3

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Saturday March 28

Armagh v Louth

Sunday March 29

Wexford v Fermanagh

Limerick v Clare

Tipperary v Sligo

Armagh and Fermanagh can both earn promotion by winning their respective matches this weekend.  Kieran McGeeney’s charges host Louth, who have won two and lost three.  Recent history and the current form book suggests Armagh should prevail, but the pragmatist within McGeeney knows that this is a potentially dangerous task.

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So is Fermanagh’s long trip to the south east.  Wexford will be especially intent on going into the bottom tier.

Limerick and Clare promises to be tasty because the stakes are fairly high.  A defeat for Clare would put them in serious trouble.   Sligo aren’t safe yet either so their trip to Tipp is important too.

Division 4

Sunday March 29

London v Waterford

Antrim v Wicklow

Longford v Offaly

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Carlow v Leitrim

London have been spirited throughout the competition, but the grim statistic is that they are pointless, even if Paul Coggins’ side are not hopeless.  Sunday’s match at the Emerald GAA Grounds represents London’s best chance to register as Waterford have only recorded one win since claiming the McGrath Cup.

Longford’s joust with Offaly should be interesting especially as Antrim are waiting to pounce on any slip ups.  Ultimately Carlow and Leitrim will be severely disappointed not to be higher in the standings.