All-Ireland Senior Football Championships: a county-by-county guide

Malachy Clerkin previews every side as the provincial action finally gets underway

Stephen Cluxton celebrates after Dublin secured their fifth All-Ireland title on the bounce in 2019. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Stephen Cluxton celebrates after Dublin secured their fifth All-Ireland title on the bounce in 2019. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

LEINSTER

Dublin

Manager: Dessie Farrell (1st year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5/6; Leinster 1/20
First up: v Westmeath, November 7th
Last year: Leinster Champions, All-Ireland champions

Where we left them: Mid-table in Division One having lost to Tyrone and only just scraped a draw against Monaghan.

Where they are: The break has left them down a few bodies - most significantly Jack McCaffrey but Diarmuid Connolly, Darren Daly and backroom stalwart Paul Clarke have departed too. Don’t need to be motoring until December so plenty of time to regroup.

Meath

Manager: Andy McEntee (4th year)
Odds: All-Ireland 100/1; Leinster 16/1
First up: v Wexford/Wicklow, November 8th
Last year: Leinster runners-up, lost all three games in the Super-8s

Where we left them: The first team relegated from Division One, albeit with the sense that they were starting to find their feet.

Where they are: Inching forward. Shane Walsh, Jordan Morris and Ronan Jones are definite green shoots but they need a kick-out strategy that takes some weight off Bryan Menton. First win in 16 months surely arrives next week.

Kildare

Manager: Jack O’Connor (1st year)
Odds: 150/1; Leinster 20/1
First up: v Carlow/Offaly, November 8th
Last year: Leinster semi-finalists; Went out to Tyrone in Round 3 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: In relegation trouble, lying second bottom of Division Two.

Where they are: Much improved. Peter Kelly’s retirement and Niall Kelly’s injury have been the main losses during the break but Jimmy Hyland is in flying form and two wins on the bounce left them third in Division Two. Will be gunning for Meath.

Kildare’s Jimmy Hyland is tackled by Westmeath’s Boidu Sayeh during their Dicision 2 clash. Photograph: Inpho
Kildare’s Jimmy Hyland is tackled by Westmeath’s Boidu Sayeh during their Dicision 2 clash. Photograph: Inpho

Laois

Manager: Micheál Quirke (1st season)
Odds: All-Ireland 1,000/1; Leinster 100/1
First up: v Louth/Longford, November 8th
Last year: Leinster semi-finalists; Went out to Cork in Round 4 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Mid-table in Division Two, having beaten Armagh and drawn with Roscommon.

Where they are: Stayed up by scoring 3-3 after the 65th minute against Fermanagh. Quirke is testing out new faces and old - Gary Walsh has been at the forefront since the restart. One of the teams who might have fancied a qualifier run in a different year.

Westmeath

Manager: Jack Cooney (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1,000/1; Leinster 100/1
First up: v Dublin, November 7th
Last year: Leinster quarter-finalists; Went out to Clare in Round 3 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Running out of puff in the middle of Division Two, outclassed by Roscommon in the last game before the break.

Where they are: Looked dangerous against Laois but Kildare had no real trouble with them and the Dubs will surely make it a short championship next Saturday.

Louth

Manager: Wayne Kierans (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5,000/1; Leinster 300/1
First up: v Longford, November 1st
Last year: Leinster quarter-finalists; Went out to Antrim in Round 1 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Rooted to the bottom of Division Three with five defeats from five games.

Where they are: Things haven’t improved. Relegated to Division Four after a heavy beating from Cork, they probably just want the year to end. Partial to reckless red cards, on top of everything else.

Longford

Manager: Padraic Davis (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1,000/1; Leinster 250/1
First up: v Louth, November 1st
Last year: Leinster quarter-finalists; Went out to Tyrone in Round 2 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: In the mix for promotion to Division Two.

Where they are: The league campaign fizzled out, as they were well beaten in Derry and then gave Cork a walkover. Mickey Quinn is opting out and Barry McKeon is injured but Robbie Smyth is back in the fold. Should beat Louth but that might be their lot.

Wicklow

Manager: Davy Burke (1st year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5,000/1; Leinster 500/1
First up: v Wexford November 1st
Last year: Leinster preliminary round; Went out to Leitrim in Round 1 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Just about hanging in there in the Division Four promotion race.

Where they are: Finished like they were running downhill while the others met an incline. Hammered Antrim and beat Wexford in a winner-take-all finale to get promoted. A successful year, whatever happens against Wexford.

Seanie Furlong celebrates scoring for Wicklow during their thrashing of Antrim. Photograph: Inpho
Seanie Furlong celebrates scoring for Wicklow during their thrashing of Antrim. Photograph: Inpho

Wexford

Manager: Shane Roche (1st year)
Odds: 5,000/1; Leinster 500/1
First up: v Wicklow, November 1st
Last year: Leinster preliminary round; Went out to Derry in Round 1 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: With, we presumed, only one difficult encounter left to win promotion from Division Four.

Where they are: Paul Galvin’s departure during the break clearly wasn’t ideal. The last-day defeat to Wicklow makes it a fairly miserable 2020. Might well exact revenge on Wicklow but Meath await next weekend.

Carlow

Manager: Niall Carew (1st season)
Odds: All-Ireland 5,000/1; Leinster 500/1
First up: v Offaly, November 1st
Last year: Leinster quarter-finalists; Went out to Longford in Round 1 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Made a poor start to Division Four and were out of the promotion race early on.

Where they are: Turlough O’Brien moved on during the break in order to give a new man some league games to get started. Niall Carew is one from one so far but won’t have either Brendan or Sean Murphy for the championship.

Offaly

Manager: John Maughan (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1,500/1; Leinster 250/1
First up: Carlow, November 1st
Last year: Leinster preliminary round; Went out to Laois in Round 3 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Holding their own in Division Three but hardly scaring the horses either.

Where they are: Having lost both of their games since the restart, they’re not exactly carrying a pile of momentum into the Carlow game. Cian Johnson will miss the championship so it’s down to Niall McNamee and Anton Sullivan to see how far they can be brought.

MUNSTER

Kerry

Manager: Peter Keane (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 9/4; Munster 2/9
First up: v Cork, November 8th
Last year: Munster champions, All-Ireland runners-up

Where we left them: Gathering steam, lying second in Division One after coming through a close games against Mayo and Galway.

Where they are: League champions and looking dangerous. Peter Crowley’s return has solidified their defence and Tony Brosnan is a live option in attack. Will surely go close to a first Sam in six years.

David Clifford inspired Kerry to the Allianz League Division 1 title. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
David Clifford inspired Kerry to the Allianz League Division 1 title. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Cork

Manager: Ronan McCarthy (3rd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 40/1; Munster 5/1
First up: v Kerry, November 8th
Last year: Munster runners-up; Lost all three games in the Super-8s

Where we left them: All but promoted from Division Three with five wins from five

Where they are: Clearly getting their house in order after a few dismal years. Sadly for them, Kerry are doing likewise from a higher base. Would prefer to have Tom Clancy and Ciarán Sheehan for next date with the Kingdom but no point dwelling on it now.

Tipperary

Manager: David Power (1st year)
Odds: All-Ireland 500/1; Munster 16/1
First up: v Clare, November 1st
Last year: Munster first round; Went out to Down in Round 1 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: In relegation trouble, third from bottom of Division Three on points difference.

Where they are: A much improved side for the break. The return of Michael Quinlivan helps and they went two-from-two to handily stay up. There’s a Munster final place on offer on their side of the draw. No better time to catch a bit of form.

Michael Quinlivan’s return is a boost for Tipperary ahead of the Munster SHC. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Michael Quinlivan’s return is a boost for Tipperary ahead of the Munster SHC. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Clare

Manager: Colm Collins (7th year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1,000/1; Munster 25/1
First up: v Tipperary, November 1st
Last year: Munster semi-finalists; Went out to Meath in Round 4 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Stone cold relegation candidates, sitting perilously close to the drop in Division Two.

Where they are: Arguably the most impressively retooled panel in the country since the break, with Gary Brennan, Jamie Malone and Podge Collins all rejoining. For the first time in five years, they don’t have Kerry on their side of the draw. Huge game with Tipp.

Limerick

Manager: Billy Lee (4th year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5,000/1; Munster 80/1
First up: v Waterford, October 31st
Last year: Munster semi-finalists; Went out to Westmeath in Round 2 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Top of Division Four and on a roll.

Where they are: They got it done in the end, overcoming a round six wobble against Wexford to beat Sligo and gain promotion as Division Four champions. That done, they’ll fancy a crack at either Clare or Tipp if they deal with Waterford.

Waterford

Manager: Ger Walsh (1st year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5,000/1; Munster 200/1
First up: v Limerick, October 31st
Last year: First round of Munster; Went out to Westmeath in Round 1 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Finding a bit of form, after beating Sligo and drawing with Carlow.

Where they are: Swimming against the tide and, judging by the row last week over whether or not to travel to play Antrim, not exactly a priority for their county board. Hard to see their year extending beyond their opening night in Dungarvan.

CONNACHT

Galway

Manager: Pádraic Joyce (1st year)
Odds: All-Ireland 12/1; Connacht 8/11
First up: v Sligo, November 7th
Last year: Connacht runners-up; Went out to Mayo in Round 4 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Flying high at the top of Division One, looking set to be the break-out team of the year.

Where they are: Crashed down to earth with a hiding from Mayo and a dead rubber defeat to Dublin. The return of Shane Walsh is a boost and Sligo should present no big worries first up. After that, it’s hard yards all the way.

Aidan O’Shea will be a major threat for Mayo at full-forward. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Aidan O’Shea will be a major threat for Mayo at full-forward. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Mayo

Manager: James Horan (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 16/1; Connacht: 15/8
First up: v Leitrim, November 1st
Last year: Connacht semi-finalists; Went out to Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-finals

Where we left them: On the slide, with only a win over Meath to show for their efforts in the league.

Where they are: Better, probably. Giving Galway a tanking never hurts but they still weren’t able to stay in Division One. Gradually processing new players into the side, although Aidan O’Shea at full-forward seems to be the big threat. Knock-out should suit them, given their big-day experience.

Roscommon

Manager: Anthony Cunningham (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 100/1; Connacht 8/1
First up: v Mayo/Leitrim, November 8th
Last year: Connacht champions; Finished third in their Super-8s group

Where we left them: Poised for promotion in second spot in Division Two.

Where they are: Cunningham has done a sterling job with the Rossies. Getting the Murtaghs back over the break is a nice boost and a Division Two title is nothing to be sniffed at. A Covid scare complicates things but they did beat Galway and Mayo last year so don’t underestimate them.

Enda Smith celebrates Roscommon’s Division 2 title win. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho
Enda Smith celebrates Roscommon’s Division 2 title win. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

Sligo

Manager: Paul Taylor (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 2,500/1; Connacht 66/1
First up: v Galway, November 7th
Last year: Connacht semi-finalists; Went out to Offaly in Round 2 of the qualifiers
Where we left them: In the no-man’s land of mid-table Division Four.

Where they are: Much the same. Had a chance at promotion but lost tight games against Carlow and Limerick as the league wound down. Adrian Marren retired during the break as well so they’re a little short on experience and scoring power.

Leitrim

Manager: Terry Hyland (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5,000/1; Connacht 125/1
First up: v Mayo, November 1st
Last year: Connacht quarter-final; Went out to Clare in Round 2 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: With only Louth below them in Division Three.

Where they are: Lost their fight with gravity, ultimately heading back to Division Four. Impossible to see them giving Mayo much to think about, especially given the Covid difficulties they’ve faced. Ryan O’Rourke has been a revelation but it’s going to be a short year all the same.

ULSTER

Donegal

Manager: Declan Bonner (3rd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 14/1; Ulster 15/8
First up: v Tyrone, November 1st
Last year: Ulster Champions; Third in their Super-8s group

Where we left them: Comfortable in Division One, having given Monaghan a heavy beating the weekend before everything stopped.

Where they are: Didn’t send Michael Murphy, Ryan McHugh, Eoghan Bán Gallagher or Patrick McBrearty to Tralee last weekend in order to keep them fresh. Ciarán Thompson is flying, Jason McGee and Michael Langan look good. If they beat Tyrone, look out.

Michael Murphy’s Donegal meet Tyrone in their opening Ulster SFC clash. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho
Michael Murphy’s Donegal meet Tyrone in their opening Ulster SFC clash. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho

Tyrone

Manager: Mickey Harte (18th year)
Odds: All-Ireland 22/1; Ulster 4/1
First up: v Donegal, November 1st
Last year: Ulster semi-finalists; Went out to Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-finals

Where we left them: Having a curious Division One campaign where they were atrocious against Monaghan but beat Kerry and Dublin.

Where they are: With Conor McKenna and Darragh Canavan in harness, they have real possibilities in attack. Cathal McShane is an obvious loss, Colm Cavanagh could prove to be just as crucial a departure. Get past Donegal and who knows?

Monaghan

Manager: Seamus McEnaney (1st year)
Odds: All-Ireland 33/1; Ulster 11/4
First up: Cavan, October 31st
Last year: Ulster quarter-finalists; Went out to Armagh in Round 2 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Teetering on the edge of the trapdoor in Division One.

Where they are: Not for the first time, Conor McManus dug them out of a hole against Meath to ensure survival. Having lost Jack McCarron during the break, they could do with Niall Kearns and Colin Walshe back starting. On the more benign side of the Ulster draw.

Conor McManus in action for Monaghan against Meath. Photograph: Inpho
Conor McManus in action for Monaghan against Meath. Photograph: Inpho

Cavan

Manager: Mickey Graham (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 500/1; Ulster 20/1
First up: v Monaghan, October 31st
Last year: Ulster finalists; Went out to Tyrone in Round 4 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Apparently comfortable in third place in Division Two.

Where they are: Relegated to Division Three after defeats to Kildare and Roscommon. One of the lowest-scoring teams in the league and it ultimately sank them. Beat Monaghan last year so won’t quail at the visit to Clones. But it’s a careless way to be going into championship.

Derry

Manager: Rory Gallagher (1st year)
Odds: All-Ireland 500/1; Ulster 20/1
First up: v Armagh, November 1st
Last year: Ulster preliminary round; Went out to Laois in Round 2 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Mid-table in Division Three after running Cork close.

Where they are: On a definite uptick. One of the counties who were helped by the break, given that Gallagher has a young squad who needed a bit of conditioning. The return of Conor Glass from Hawthorn was an unexpected surprise and he has slotted in well so far.

Down

Manager: Paddy Tally (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 500/1; Ulster 16/1
First up: v Fermanagh, November 8th
Last year: Ulster quarter-finalists; Went out to Mayo in Round 2 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Well set in Division Three having seen off Longford and Derry.

Where they are: Hard to know. Leitrim giving them a walkover meant they were promoted without playing another game. Sent out a scratch team to be beaten by Louth last week. Should take Fermanagh but won’t reveal their true selves until the Ulster semi-final.

Fermanagh

Manager: Ryan McMenamin (1st year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1,000/1; Ulster 66/1
First up: v Down, November 8th
Last year: Ulster quarter-finalists; Went out to Monaghan in Round 1 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: In dire straits at the foot of Division Two.

Where they are: They showed a fair amount of gumption to not only fulfil their fixtures against Clare and Laois but to give both of them a serious game. Very few county panels could less afford a Covid outbreak than Fermanagh. Hard to see them overcoming it.

Jamie Clarke and Armagh were promoted to Division 1 for the first time in eight years. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Jamie Clarke and Armagh were promoted to Division 1 for the first time in eight years. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Armagh

Manager: Kieran McGeeney (6th season)
Odds: All-Ireland 125/1; Ulster 10/1
First up: v Antrim, November 7th
Last year: Ulster semi-finalists; Went out to Mayo in Round 3 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: On top of Division Two, gunning for promotion.

Where they are: Back in Division One for the first time since 2012. Only Kerry and Cork scored more in the league and their incremental improvement is obvious. Could really have done with the qualifiers though - hard to see them beating whoever comes out of Donegal v Tyrone.

Antrim

Manager: Lenny Harbinson (2nd year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5,000/1; Ulster 200/1
First up: v Monaghan/Cavan, November 8th
Last year: Ulster quarter-finalists; Went out to Kildare in Round 2 of the qualifiers

Where we left them: Still in with the Division Four promotion race, lying second.

Where they are: Took a 7-11 to 0-7 annihilation from Wicklow on their return, which ended all ideas they had about going up. Stuck up for themselves last week in beating Waterford on the field rather than accept a spurious walkover. Likely to be one-and-done.

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