Expert view: National football and hurling league predictions

Irish Times GAA writers and columnists have their say on the 2019 Allianz leagues

Jim Gavin: Dublin’s manager will be keen to see his side maintain momentum in the league as they prepare for a tilt at an historic five All-Ireland titles in a row. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill

Jim Gavin: Dublin’s manager will be keen to see his side maintain momentum in the league as they prepare for a tilt at an historic five All-Ireland titles in a row. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill

 

Seán Moran

Football
1 Can/will anyone challenge Dublin?

Yes but not with the sort of consistency to depose them. Kerry showed two years ago however that in a once-off match it can happen.

2 Who needs more from the league - Mayo, Tyrone or Kerry?

Kerry have a new manager and promising underage talent. Peter Keane will hope to knock it into a bit of shape for the summer.

3 Outside Division 1, pick a team for whom a good league can lead on to better things in the summer.

Armagh have been able to restore Stefan Campbell and Jamie Clarke to the panel and with momentum can reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals as in 2017.

Hurling 
4 With no promotion or relegation between 1A and 1B, will anyone be breaking a sweat at all?

No less than usual. Galway nearly did back-to-back All-Ireland breaking sweat in the league. Last year Limerick needed momentum more than promotion.

5 Pick a manager and name a problem the league can solve for him.

Brian Cody needs a full back to liberate Pádraig Walsh for more advanced duties. JJ Delaney says it’s between Huw Lawlor and Conor Delaney.

Keith Duggan

Football
1 Can/will anyone challenge Dublin?

Last summer suggested the gap is lengthening, not closing. But if Tyrone continue to improve and Mayo can tap into their 2016/7 guise, those two counties can certainly challenge. The other contenders are wait-and-see.

2 Who needs more from the league – Mayo, Tyrone or Kerry.

Mayo have been blasé about the league in recent years and James Horan was never overly excited by it in his first term. But the league is their best chance of drafting a championship blueprint to sort out the problems that have dogged them.

3 Outside Division 1, pick a team for whom a good league can lead onto better things in the summer.

The obvious candidate is Donegal: the Ulster champions have a stacked managerial team, a young, talented squad and a prevailing sense of injustice about how the Super 8s worked out for them last year.

Hurling
4 With no promotion or relegation between 1A and 1B, will anyone be breaking a sweat at all?

Limerick used a terrific win in Salthill last year as a springboard to their brilliant summer. Brian Cody has always stressed the importance of the league. Some teams will prioritise it more than others but it will have bite.

5 Pick a manager and name a problem the league can solve for him.

Liam Sheedy: Last year, Tipperary’s loss of altitude was one of the stories of the summer. Identifying a championship full back and restoring Tipp’s momentum will become part of his league agenda.

Malachy Clerkin

Football
1 Can/will anyone challenge Dublin?

Recent history would suggest not and yet the other teams are all turning up for training and matches nonetheless. Could see Tyrone or Monaghan in a league final against them with a puncher’s chance.

2 Who needs more from the league – Mayo, Tyrone or Kerry?

Kerry, certainly. The other two must be reasonably sure of the bulk of their championship personnel but Peter Keane has a fairly clean slate to go to work on. Plenty of blanks to fill in.

3 Outside Division 1, pick a team for whom a good league can lead onto better things in the summer.

Donegal are a really exciting prospect and can build through the season. Playing a league without Michael Murphy and Patrick McBrearty would cripple them in Division One but might not do them any harm at all at the lower level.

Hurling
4 With no promotion or relegation between 1A and 1B, will anyone be breaking a sweat at all?

Only in patches, if at all. Managers have spent too many recent leagues grousing about the madcap demands not to ease back on the throttle now. Summer is everything.

5 Pick a manager and name a problem the league can solve for him.

Padraic Fanning has taken over a panel in Waterford that had an almost umbilical relationship with their previous management. The next few months will be about finding his own route under their skins.

Jackie Tyrrell

Hurling
4 With no promotion or relegation between 1A and 1B, will anyone be breaking a sweat at all?

The league will still be intense because everyone wants to win and build confidence. But I would be certain that mangers will be willing to experiment with personnel and tactics a lot more this year than in other years.

5 Pick a manager and name a problem the league can solve for him.

I’ll give you two. Tipp need a full back and Liam Sheedy could try Brian McGrath there. And in Clare, Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor are going to need Tony Kelly in the summer so maybe they might hold him back a bit. He’s going too well for January!

Nicky English

Hurling

4 With no promotion or relegation between 1A and 1B, will anyone be breaking a sweat at all?

The nature of the league changed after about two rounds last year when reality dawned that the provincial championship would be so demanding. The removal of promotion and relegation will increase the levels of panel deepening this year.

5 Pick a manager and name a problem the league can solve for him.

John Meyler found out to his cost in the All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick last year that his panel lacked depth. That’s something that Cork need to rectify in the league if it isn’t going to cost them again in the championship.

Kevin McStay

Football

1 Can/will anyone challenge Dublin?

Tyrone and Kerry look best set because of ability, conditioning and above all, age profile. Nobody really knows what Mayo will do in the league other than be competitive. It’s a big year for Galway, who must move clear of the chasing pack and into the top three.

2 Who needs more from the league – Mayo, Tyrone or Kerry

Kerry for sure need a big league, a real confidence-boosting league campaign to re-establish themselves as genuine contenders. They have the players road-tested at underage and this league should be used to get them used to Big Boys’ School.

 3 Outside of Division 1, pick a team for whom a good league can lead onto better things in the summer (and say why)

Armagh. Unlucky not to make Super 8’s last year, they are showing steady progress these past few years and have better players this year. They have an excellent goalkeeper in Blaine Hughes and the return of James Morgan, Stefan Campbell and Jamie Clarke means they should/must emerge from Division Two.

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