National Football League returns with titanic Division One clashes
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National Football League returns with titanic Division One clashes

Allianz Football League Division One

Saturday January 31

Tyrone v Monaghan

Donegal v Derry

 

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Sunday February 1

Cork v Dublin

Kerry v Mayo

 

A fiery contest should take place under the Saturday night lights in Healy Park, Omagh. Tyrone and Monaghan are aware of how important a good start can be in Division One: it ought to be tight and tense.

In Ballybofey Rory Gallagher takes charge of Donegal for an intriguing clash with Derry. How Donegal cope following Jim McGuinness' departure will be interesting. Unearthing a few new players for the Championship is Gallagher's brief.

Sunday's jousts on the banks of the Lee and Killarney bring fascination too. There is potential in Cork, but 2014 was a mixed campaign in League and Championship. Dublin's All Ireland semi-final loss to Donegal was a severe disappointment; the recovery process is now underway.

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Kerry, with Sam Maguire safely gathered in September, have announced an experimental starting XV for the arrival of Mayo. Eamonn Fitzmaurice stayed commendably cool under League pressure during the last two years. The wild mayhem is commencing again.

 

Allianz Football League Division Two

Sunday February 1

Roscommon v Cavan

Galway v Meath

Westmeath v Laois

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Kildare v Down

 

It should be highly competitive. The Kiltoom clash of promoted duo Roscommon and Cavan carries intrigue especially following their displays in the Connacht FBD League and McKenna Cup. An all ticket match it is likely to be eventful with both teams keen to make a statement.

That is exactly what Kevin Walsh will be trying to do with his new Galway outfit in Pearse Stadium with Meath the visitors. The Royals have emerged as the number two team in Leinster. Narrowing the gap on Dublin remains the mission so Meath will be anxious to be sprightly in the Spring.

A midlands battle in Mullingar between Westmeath and Laois already has the cut of an important game. Westmeath endured a torrid 2014 so the couple of O'Byrne Cup triumphs over DCU and Longford brought a drop of confidence.  Laois, though, are capable when in the groove.

Kildare and Down's collision in Newbridge  will provide a few pointers too. The Lilywhites had promising moments in the O'Byrne Cup. Getting back into the top flight is what they intend to do.

 

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Allianz Football League Division Three

Saturday January 31

Fermanagh v Louth

 

Sunday February 1

Clare v Wexford

Limerick v Sligo

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Armagh v Tipperary

 

Kieran McGeeney's return to inter-county management is the main issue in Division Three where Armagh are hotly fancied to gain promotion. Clare's improvement under Colm Collins and the continued availability of Podge Collins aids their cause, while Sligo will be hard working under the well regarded Niall Carew.

 

Allianz Football League Division Four

Saturday January 31

Waterford v Wicklow

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Sunday February 1

London v Offaly

Antrim v Carlow

Leitrim v Longford

 

London face a tricky start against Offaly, who have Pat Flanagan in charge.  Westmeath and Sligo both summoned determined performances under Flanagan and the Faithful can enjoy a productive spell once more.

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How Paul Coggins' charges fare against Offaly and Carlow in the first two weeks will be critical. Waterford's McGrath Cup triumph leaves them heartened entering the League, but this pool is all about gaining results on the road if promotion is the target.