NFL previews Divisions One and Two
Down v Tyrone Newry, 7pm (Live, Setanta Sports 1) – This will be critical for Down, whose strong home record has kept them in contention in the league since regaining Division One status two seasons ago.
There have been expressions of remorse within the county for the manner in which their championship disintegrated but league displays under James McCartan have been very good, culminating in reaching the play-offs in two of the three years.
They functioned within themselves during the McKenna Cup and won’t simply surrender their status but Tyrone are formidable opposition and won the McKenna Cup while trialling a number of new players.
Just three members of the All-Ireland winning team of 10 years ago line out and it will be interesting to see how the half forward line gets on , Peter Harte again starting there with the promising Matthew Donnelly and the industry of newcomer Kevin Gallagher.
It should be enough for the visitors .
DOWN: MCunningham; D Turley, D McCartan, R Boyle; R Mallon, A Carr, D O’ Hagan; K King, K McKernan; K Quinn, M Poland, B Coulter; C Laverty, C Harrison, P McComiskey.
TYRONE: N Morgan; A McCrory, C Gormley, C McCarron; R McKenna, J McMahon, R McNamee; P Kane, S Cavanagh; K Gallagher, P Harte, Matthew Donnelly; C McAliskey, S O’Neill , Mark Donnelly . Subs: J Devine, C Clarke, J Lafferty, D McBride, T McCann, Justin McMahon, P McNiece, R O’Neill, M Penrose, B Tierney, S Warnock.
Laois v Armagh O’Moore Park, 7pm– The two relegated teams meet in a repeat of what proved a controversial clash last season. At times last season Laois looked impressive, managing to move the ball well in co-ordinated attacks but ultimately they lacked consistency.
They can win here with 13 of the team that lined out in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final.
A full-forward line featuring Pádraig Clancy and the returned Donie Kingston will test their inexperienced Armagh opponents.
Paul Grimley will need more time to assemble his best team, particularly in the absence of the Crossmaglen players.
2.30 unless stated
Mayo v Kerry Castlebar, 2.0(Live, TG4) – It’s been a satisfactory opening month for new Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice, who begins the county’s necessary reconstruction job with a difficult trip to Mayo, who have been breaking even with them in the league in recent seasons. Dr Croke’s have given Johnny Buckley permission to play and he gets a run at centrefield.
James Horan has run the rule over a good few players during the FBD League but it remains to be seen if he has unearthed anything significant.
Mayo’s record in the competition has seen the county establish a long-term tenancy in the top division but this is going to be a very tough campaign with trips to Tyrone, Dublin, Down and Cork.