Allianz Football League: Derry can win clash of the top two in Celtic Park

Buoyant Roscommon head for Castlebar where losers will find themselves in the relegation conversation


Division 1

Mayo v Roscommon, Hastings MacHale Park, 7.30pm [Live, TG4] – This may not exactly be a relegation four-pointer but it certainly will heap pressure on the losers. After a good start, Mayo have been treading water and the hoped-for fifth and sixth points in Omagh evaporated in an insipid second half. Compounding things was the nasty hamstring setback for Diarmuid O’Connor, who is now a medium-term absentee at best. It remains to be seen whether Roscommon’s thrashing of Monaghan was an affirmation of them or a commentary on the opposition’s punctured fuselage. But they were also decent against Dublin and Davy Burke’s team won’t be fazed by the trip to Castlebar where they won a championship match less than a year ago. They also strengthen their middle third with the return of Ultan Harney after a year overseas. This is a moment of truth for both sides, especially Mayo who have to produce a response to last week’s mediocrity.

Verdict: Mayo

Derry v Dublin, Celtic Park, 5.00pm [Live, RTÉ2] – Dublin produced a season’s best last week against Kerry, slightly unexpectedly although the emotion stirred by the death of Shane O’Hanlon had them well motivated. This is a different task. The league leaders have a fine record against the visitors in home league matches and have been the quality turn in the division, reflected in the 100 per cent record. There is a great focus on the Brian Fenton-Conor Glass confrontation but last year Brendan Rogers was the most influential centrefielder, as the Derry pair led the second-half recovery. Con O’Callaghan will take minding after the last two matches and can expect the attention of All-Star Conor McCloskey. Curiously, Derry didn’t score for the last 20 minutes of the comfortable win over Galway but had done enough by then. They’ve been in excellent form whereas Dublin have been more up and down – or down and up.


Verdict: Derry

Division 2

Cavan v Meath, Kingspan Breffni, 7.00pm – Welcome wins for both teams last week, as Meath’s strong finish against Kildare more or less guaranteed their survival in the division whereas Cavan held off another feisty display by Louth to copper fasten their status as the third team in the table, with a crack at Armagh still to come. With both teams finishing matches strongly, Meath have to be careful not to leave themselves too much to do.

Verdict: Cavan

Fermanagh v Armagh, Brewster Park, 6.00pm [Live, BBC iPlayer] – Heartbreak for Fermanagh, losing to Cork in injury-time, as it leaves them hovering over the trapdoor. The most impressive team of the campaign to date comes to town, having dropped a first point to fellow promotion contenders Donegal, who walloped Fermanagh a fortnight ago. Rian O’Neill is regaining fitness and the visitors’ suite of attacking options is too strong.

Verdict: Armagh

Division 3

Limerick v Clare, Rathkeale, 6.00pm – Clare have more to show for this season, having won three and proved competitive. Cormac Murray was in recent goalscoring form against Wicklow but Limerick, marooned at the bottom, gave their best display to date against Westmeath.

Verdict: Clare

Division 4

Carlow v Wexford, Netwatch Cullen Park, 7.00pm – Colm Hulton’s cracking goal to win late against Leitrim elevates Carlow into the promotion zone and they should still be there after this.

Verdict: Carlow

Laois v London, Laois Hire O’Moore Park, 7.00pm – Laois came late to get the win over Tipperary but it preserved one of the only three 100 per cent records in the league. That should keep that intact against winless London.

Verdict: Laois


Division 1

Monaghan v Galway, Clones, 3.15pm [Live, TG4] – Galway’s sick bay has proved a big impediment during this campaign but they will have targeted this match despite Monaghan having been the Ulster county most resistant to Pádraic Joyce’s Ulster kryptonite, which last week malfunctioned with the visit of leaders Derry. Monaghan though are looking as if there’ll be no more miracles of resurrection this time around, as Vinny Corey tries to build a panel while staying afloat in the top division. They looked demoralised against Roscommon and today’s visitors will have noticed the blood in the water.

Verdict: Galway

Kerry v Tyrone, Fitzgerald Stadium, 1.15pm [Live, TG4] – Tyrone finally clicked into some sort of form last week, wresting the initiative from Mayo in Omagh after half-time. Darren McCurry and Darragh Canavan dovetailed to devastating effect and they will head to Killarney feeling better than if this had happened a couple of weeks back. Kerry will have had much reflection on a poor display in Croke Park where Dublin effectively and emphatically beat them twice, once in each half. The defence never got to sustained grips with the job and the centrefield combination wasn’t effective against Brian Fenton. Throw in the worrying sight of David Clifford being both marked well and deprived of a sustained supply and you’d have to imagine Jack O’Connor will get a big response here.

Verdict: Kerry

Division 2

Cork v Kildare, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 3.30pm [TG4 Player, Deferred] – Cork are blessed to have picked up a late, late win in Fermanagh and the arrival of Kildare will encourage them to double their points tally. The hope is that the finally secured win can kick-start their campaign. Kildare improved last week but still lack conviction.

Verdict: Cork

Donegal v Louth, Ballyshannon, 2.00pm – Donegal were pleased with the draw in Armagh, even though they had the wherewithal to do even better, because it could equally have been lost at the end. Louth have been competitive but unlucky or at least inhibited when it comes to closing out tight games. If Donegal bring their A game, there’s unlikely to be a close finish to negotiate.

Verdict: Donegal

Division 3

Down v Sligo, Páirc Esler, 2.00pm – High-stepping Down, with the best scoring difference across the four divisions and Pat Havern, Liam Kerr and Caolan Mooney on form, are going too well to be detained by Sligo, who are just on the shoulder of the top teams.

Verdict: Down

Offaly v Wicklow, Glenisk O’Connor Park, 2.00pm – A shattering run of defeats for Offaly, who came very close to picking up points in a couple of matches. It has been worse for Wicklow who have lost by even more in their four defeats. On form, Offaly’s spark can at last light up.

Verdict: Offaly

Antrim v Westmeath, Corrigan Park, 1.00pm – Antrim are 50-50 for the campaign but, short a few key players, have lost their last two matches. Westmeath however are running Down a strong second in the promotion race despite tighter winning margins and can win here.

Verdict: Westmeath

Division 4

Longford v Leitrim, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 2.30pm – Two counties who presumably feel they could be doing better after tight defeats. Defeat will kill off promotion ambitions.

Verdict: Longford

Tipperary v Waterford, Bansha, 2.00pm – A championship rehearsal with opening night little more than a month away. So far Tipp have shown enough to get past the league’s worst record.

Verdict: Tipperary

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times