Weekend football previews
Dublin's Michael Darragh Macauley (right) is back from suspension ahead of Kildare clash. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
TODAY DIVISION ONE Down v Mayo, Newry, 7.0 – Down are beginning to run out of options in the fight to avoid relegation even though just three matches have been played.
The late heartbreak against Cork was the second home match lost narrowly to and realistically they need to win this with trips to Dublin and Kerry coming up.
Mayo have had the misfortune of the late-goal defeat themselves, against Tyrone, but last week was more clear-cut even though Dublin finished with 14 men.
For a team whose defensive realignment has been key to improvement they were too loose on Bernard Brogan, unable to man-mark him and just as importantly conceding a lavish platform at centrefield until Aidan O’Shea switched, a move James Horan sticks with from the start.
Fired up by last summer’s mauling and the consequences of defeat Down will be motivated but Mayo are in better shape than a 33 per cent return would indicate.
DOWN: B McVeigh; D McCartan, B McArdle, R Boyle; R Mallon, A Carr, K Quinn; K King, K McKernan; C Laverty, M Poland, P McComiskey; D O’Hare, C Harrison, B Coulter.
MAYO:K O’Malley; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; B Moran, A O’Shea; K McLoughlin, R Feeney, C Carolan; E Varley, J Doherty, M Conroy.
Derry v Armagh, Celtic Park, 7.0 – The return of the Crossmaglen players helped Armagh maintain lift-off and this evening they face an in-form Derry with two wins in the past two outings. Brian McIver has been trawling and trialing while keeping Derry in contention in what looks like being a volatile division.
There’s been more of the huff and puff about Armagh so should be a home win.
Fermanagh v Monaghan, Brewster Park, 7.0 – A trip home for Malachy O’Rourke who masterminded Fermanagh’s championship win over his current county five years ago.
Peter Canavan’s team have lost top scorer Seán Quigley for the season whereas Monaghan welcome back Ulster captain Darren Hughes and Conor McManus, which can tilt it for the visitors.
Division Four – Clare v Tipperary, Cusack Park, 2.0 – Tipp can’t afford another defeat but this trip to Ennis looks likely to yield little, as Mick O’Dwyer’s team chase promotion.
London v Waterford, Ruislip, 2.0 – London have been competitive to date but Waterford won’t lose ground here.
Donegal v Kerry, Ballybofey, 2.0 – Three series gone and this pair have the princely total of two points between them.
Clearly, neither is targeting the league but nor would relegation be part of the plan even if Jim McGuinness was relatively nonchalant about the prospect last week. This is achievable for Kerry with the champions still under-strength and under-cooked. Last week in Newbridge represented a big improvement on previous performance levels and had the finishing not been so sloppy they could have done damage.