Kingdom has not fallen yet but survival goes down to the last match against Tyrone
Still one semi-final and two relegation spots down for decision in a fortnight
Mayo’s Richie Feeney and Ryan Bradley of Donegal during yesterday’s clash at McHale Park, Castlebar. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
The Kingdom hasn’t fallen yet. One of the big issues of a hectic weekend’s activity in the Allianz Leagues, Kerry’s potential relegation from Division One of the AFL – was kept alive, as Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s team racked up a valuable win over perennial rivals Cork by 0-11 to 0-7.
This means Kerry’s fight for survival goes to the final match of the regulation season, a daunting trip to Tyrone, who with yesterday’s opponents Kildare, have already qualified for the semi-finals alongside Dublin, big winners over Down on Saturday.
“The big thing for us was to make sure we won,” said Fitzmaurice afterwards, “got two points on the board and kept the last match in Omagh relevant because it would be very important for us, if we could, to preserve our Division One status.”
The home support in Tralee was also cheered with the arrival as second-half replacements of returning former Footballers of the Year Colm Cooper and Paul Galvin.
Tyrone dominated the match in Newbridge with Mark Donnelly’s first-half goal getting the visitors on top and Kildare’s 11 second-half wides ensuring that they were was no revival.
The re-run in Castlebar of the All-Ireland final saw a measure of revenge for Mayo, who beat Donegal 1-10 to 0-9, Michael Conroy’s 47th-minute goal the decisive score but the All-Ireland champions had Anthony Thompson sent off eight minutes later for a second yellow card.
The situation in the division is that there are still one semi-final and two relegation spots down for decision in a fortnight’s time.
Holders Cork, still in the hunt for a fourth successive title, remain in pole position for the semi-finals on six points but in freakish circumstances they could even be relegated were they to lose against Mayo on the last day.
Bottom-of-the-table Down are effectively relegated but an improbable combination of results could see them re-adjust what looks like a crippling scoring difference. Also in contention for the drop are Kerry, Mayo and Donegal.
In the other divisions, the league’s only unbeaten team Westmeath pulled out another second-half revival to ensure promotion from Division Two. Trailing by five at half-time against Armagh, Pat Flanagan’s side nicked the result at the end 0-17 to 0-16.
Armagh are now leading contenders to join Longford on the downwards escalator. In Division Three, the postponement of Antrim’s home match with Meath helps ensure that nothing has been decided.
To go up
Fermanagh look likely to go up and Wicklow are all but certainly relegated – they need to win their last match, hope Antrim lose both of theirs and in the process fritter away a 28-point superiority in scoring difference.
Similarly in Division Four, nothing is yet certain, as leaders Limerick are still vulnerable because of their strange scoring difference – for a team that has won five out of six – of plus one.
Division One A of the AHL remains the most intriguing of either league. Waterford’s last-minute winner from captain Kevin Moran against Tipperary pushed Michael Ryan’s team to the top of the table on five points but they could still find themselves involved in the relegation play-off thanks to an extraordinarily compressed table, which sees just two points between top and bottom, both of whom meet next week when Galway travel to Waterford.
Holders Kilkenny had a narrow win in Ennis against Clare whereas Cork rallied to draw against Galway.
The Division Two final is likely to be between Limerick and Dublin. The former top the table after coming back for a fine win over Offaly whereas Anthony Daly’s side had 14 points to spare over Wexford.