Football Championship 2022: A county-by-county guide

Seán Moran and Malachy Clerkin review the prospects across the provinces

CONNACHT (Malachy Clerkin)

GALWAY
Manager:
Pádraic Joyce (third year)
Odds: All-Ireland 20-1, Connacht 3-1
Next up: v Mayo, Castlebar, Sunday, 4.0

Time to deliver. Galway are back in Division One and now they need to start bouncing up the championship steps. They have mostly everyone fit, they have stone-cold match winners in Paul Conroy and Shane Walsh – and possibly Damien Comer if he can regain his pre-injury form. Kick-out remains a nettlesome issue and the injury picked up by goalie Conor Flaherty in the league final isn't helpful.

LEITRIM
Manager:
Andy Moran (first year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5,000-1 Connacht 66-1, Tailteann Cup 20-1
Next up: v Mayo/Galway, May 8th

Andy Moran didn’t put a tooth in it after beating London - he wants Mayo to beat Galway so Leitrim can play them in Carrick-On-Shannon. Dealt with a potentially tricky opener well last weekend, steeling themselves when London came with a run and holding them at bay late on. One of the teams who will relish the Tailteann Cup so the draw will be crucial to their summer.

LONDON
Manager: Michael Maher (third year)
Odds: Tailteann Cup 66-1
Next up: Tailteann Cup, May 28th

Very nearly pulled off the result in Ruislip last Sunday and will be stung by their failure to get across the line. After a fantastic start to the league, their results started to tail off as the other Division Four teams began to target them properly. Have been crying out for the Tailteann Cup so they must be considered dangerous when it comes around.

MAYO
Manager:
James Horan (fourth year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5-1, Connacht 4-5
Next up: v Galway, Castlebar, Sunday, 4.0

Injuries have come at a flood at precisely the wrong time. The hiding in the league final has lowered the mood around the county too, not to mention the residual gloom from a fourth All-Ireland defeat in six years. And yet if they beat Galway on Sunday, everything changes. A handy run to the Connacht final, time for injuries to settle, the bandwagon rolls again. Huge game.

NEW YORK
Manager:
Johnny McGeeney (first year)
Odds: Tailteann Cup 100-1
Next up: Tailteann Cup quarter-final, June 4th

Put in a massive display last Sunday against Sligo, one that was entirely unexpected within New York circles after they had gone a full three years without a game. Former Galway players Adrian Varley and Johnny Glynn are quality pillars of the attack. Will enjoy the trip east for the Tailteann Cup, which they enter at the quarter-final stage.

ROSCOMMON
Manager: Anthony Cunningham (fourth year)
Odds: All-Ireland 50-1, Connacht 11-4
Next up: v Sligo, May 1st

As ever, they get roundly ignored in the shadow of the Connacht big two. But they've won more provincial titles than Galway since 2010 and have nothing to fear in this year's decider once they deal with Sligo next day out. Few of the mid-rank teams have as many quality forwards as the Rossies, with Sigerson star Cathal Heneghan a fine addition.

SLIGO
Manager: Tony McEntee (second year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1,000-1, Connacht 40-1, Tailteann Cup 16-1
Next up: v Roscommon, May 1st

Must feel like they’re running in treacle after the unfathomable loss of Red Óg Murphy. Hard to know how they can muster up the will or energy to play out the championship at all. Their struggles in the Bronx were understandable in that light and they’ll hardly give Roscommon too much hassle on Sunday week.

LEINSTER (Seán Moran)

CARLOW
Manager:
Niall Carew (third year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5000-1, Leinster 500-1
Next up: v Louth, Navan, April 24th, 2.30

It's four years since 'Carlow Rising' and that team has largely moved on. A few are left, including captain Darragh Foley and wing back Jordan Morrissey, who is still only 23, to guide some young team-mates, like last year's under-20 Shane Buggy, now a regular in the full-back line. This is a shot to nothing after a challenging league.

DUBLIN
Manager: Dessie Farrell (third year)
Odds: All-Ireland 7-2, Leinster 4-11
Next up: v Offaly/Wexford, Tullamore/Wexford, April 30th, 6.30

Decline and fall. Losing the long lease on All-Irelands gave way to relegation and the cut line for immediate prospects appears to be whether the champions could beat Kildare. Con O’Callaghan’s return will help but the defence was the worst in Division One and key players have little form. Retrenchment needed but lots of blood in the water for long-suffering rivals.

KILDARE
Manager: Glenn Ryan (first year)
Odds: All-Ireland 40-1, Leinster 10-3
Next up: v Louth/Carlow, May 1st, tbc  

A very respectable league despite relegation. Unbeaten at home, including against Kerry and Dublin, Glenn Ryan's impact has been considerable. Unlucky in that four counties had a worse scoring difference. Jimmy Hyland and Daniel Flynn provided quality up front and Kevin Flynn had a good campaign at centrefield. They may not have stayed up but their horizons have broadened considerably.

LAOIS
Manager:
Billy Sheahan (first year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1000-1, Leinster 80-1
Next up: v Wicklow, Aughrim, April 24th, 3.30

Calamity hit when defeat by Longford relegated them but equally they failed to win a home match all season. They'll be relieved to go to Aughrim, where they actually beat Wicklow last month. Poor conversion rates contributed to poor league outcomes. Evan O'Carroll and Gary Walsh still relied on for scores. Worth noting that Ross Munnelly embarks on 20th championship.

LONGFORD
Manager: Billy O'Loughlin (first year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1000-1, Leinster 150-1
Next up: v Westmeath, Mullingar, April 30th, 6.0

A very decent league, considering the number of experienced players unavailable for sundry reasons, saw them secure Division Three status for a ninth year out of 10 despite captain Michael Quinn’s sorely-felt absence in a couple of defeats. Unbeaten against three of the four Leinster teams, they beat championship opponents Westmeath but maybe blew their cover in the process.

LOUTH
Manager: Mickey Harte (second year)
Odds: All-Ireland 500-1, Leinster 40-1
Next up: v Carlow, Navan, April 24th, 2.30

Excellent recovery from slow start took Mickey Harte's side to a second successive promotion. A familiar running game, supplemented by a productive attack, featuring the league's top scorer Sam Mulroy and ex-AFL Ciarán Byrne, largely restricted to a bench role in the league but top-scoring from play in the final, has given them a six-match unbeaten streak going into championship.

MEATH
Manager:
Andy McEntee (sixth year)
Odds: All-Ireland 150-1, Leinster 10-1
Next up: v Laois/Wicklow, Portlaoise/Navan, May 12th, 3.0

Rode their luck at times to hang on in Division Two and finished strongly. Good news was the return from long-term injury of full back Conor McGill and centrefielder Bryan Menton. Can Jason Scully and Jordan Morris up front deliver on a promising last couple of seasons? Hoping to replicate last year's encouraging form when coming back at Dublin.

OFFALY
Manager: John Maughan (fourth year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1000-1, Leinster 50-1
Next up: v Wexford, Chadwicks Wexford Park, April 24th, 3.0

Battled hard to stay in Division Two and got caught in injury-time on the last day. Obvious strong suit is the quality of young footballers coming through from under-20s but injuries haven't helped and Cormac Egan is out with a hamstring problem. In-form Ruairí McNamee is also a concern. Hard working and on course for Dublin if they win first match.  

WESTMEATH
Manager: Jack Cooney (fourth year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1000-1, Leinster 25-1
Next up: v Longford, Mullingar, April 30th, 6.0

Missed out on promotion having been starting favourites, Westmeath are competitive when tuned in but lack consistency, as their yo-yo league existence indicates. Jack Cooney, though, used a good few players in the league and they have plenty of good performers, most obviously John Heslin but also Luke Loughlin up front. On their day, deservedly rank in province's top four.

WEXFORD
Manager: Shane Roche (third year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5000-1 and Leinster 500-1
Next up: v Offaly, Chadwicks Wexford Park, April 24th, 3.0

Wexford lost just one of their final four matches in Division Four. Shane Roche was frustrated at their difficulties in seeing out matches, which cost points. Tend to be too focused on defence when they have established good leads. He has introduced some young players and expects to have the experienced Michael Furlong and Rory Heffernan back for this weekend.

WICKLOW
Manager: Alan Costello and Gary Duffy (first year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5000-1 and Leinster 500-1
Next up: v Laois, Aughrim, April 24th, 3.30

After a disrupted campaign that saw a change of management halfway through. Wicklow fought hard to stay in Division Three. The joint-management team has been working with a young group of players – influential centrefielder Dean Healy is the veteran although barely 30. They were competitive in a number of matches but gave their poorest display against championship opponents Laois.

MUNSTER (Seán Moran)


CLARE
Manager: Colm Collins (ninth year)
Odds: All-Ireland 400-1, Munster 22-1
Next up: v Limerick, Ennis, April 30th, 7.0  

During the team's impressive seven-year tenure in Division Two, they have faced Kerry on six occasions. This time around they are on the opposite side of the draw to Cork and Kerry and will sense opportunity. The team is fairly settled at this stage and at their best, attack with a bit of pace and have decent quality up front.

CORK
Manager: John Cleary (interim)
Odds: All-Ireland 150-1; Munster 16-1
Next up: v Kerry, Páirc Uí Rinn, May 7th, 6.0

A fairly disrupted run-up to championship with manager Keith Ricken in his first year, having to step aside for health reasons. The players have got themselves worked up over the venue for the Kerry match, which is still in dispute. In between they survived relegation by an in jury-time winner from Stephen Sherlock. All very diverting but unlikely to trouble Kerry.



KERRY
Manager:
Jack O'Connor (first year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5-4, Munster 1-25
Next up: v Cork, Páirc Uí Rinn, May 7th, 6.0

So far, so good for Jack O'Connor. The league was bagged with a minimum of fuss and injuries are clearing while David Clifford remains gold standard. Defence performed well and conceded least in their division – but that also happened last year. Resolution will be much the same. Can they cope with Tyrone in a big match in Croke Park? Probably.

LIMERICK
Manager: Billy Lee (sixth year)
Odds: All-Ireland 500-1, Munster 500-1
Next up: v Clare, Ennis, April 30th, 7.0

Terrific achievement by Limerick in going up to Division Two. They acquitted themselves quite well in the divisional final but maybe lacked the self-belief to push it all the way after Louth's game-changing goal. They are a physical, athletic team with some dependable scorers, Hugh Bourke and Josh Ryan, and centre back Iain Corbett was named on RTÉ's team of the league.

TIPPERARY
Manager:  David Power (third year)
Odds: All-Ireland 500-1, Munster 16-1
Next up: v Waterford, Dungarvan, April 30th, 7.0

After a bleak start to life in the basement, David Power turned things around impressively with promotion back to Division Three. It's been challenging, as half the Munster winning team from two years ago aren't involved this season. Among the call-ups impressing are centrefielder Mark Russell and corner forward, Mikey O'Shea – with former All Star Conor Sweeney still firing away.

WATERFORD
Manager:
Ephie Fitzgerald (first year)
Odds: All-Ireland 5000-1, Munster 500-1
Next up: v Tipperary, Dungarvan, April 30th, 7.0

Propping up the entire league, Waterford had some bad luck along the way. They should have beaten, rather than drawing with, championship opponents Tipp and lost needlessly to London. Recent underage supplies haven't been vintage, leaving fresh options scarce and there are county hurlers who are better footballers. Dermot Ryan is, unusually for a wing back, an accomplished free taker.

ULSTER (Malachy Clerkin)

ANTRIM
Manager: Enda McGinley (second year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1,000-1, Ulster 66-1, Tailteann Cup 10-1
Next up: v Cavan, Corrigan Park, Saturday, 2.30

A scratchy end to the league took the sheen off a generally positive campaign. They had the meanest defence in the country and it was their first time holding on to Division Three status in a decade. Conor Murray and Marc Jordan have been the stand-out performers for Enda McGinley and they are no forlorn hope as they look for their first win in Ulster since 2014.

ARMAGH
Manager: Kieran McGeeney (eighth year)
Odds: All-Ireland 28-1, Ulster 4-1
Next up: v Donegal, Ballybofey, Sunday, 2.0

For a county that farmed Ulster titles in the noughties, 14 years is an unconscionable wait for their next one. Every other county in the province has at least been to an Ulster final since Armagh’s last appearance in 2008 – if they don’t make it that far this year, then when? Suddenly suspension-free after the midweek appeals, the planets look to be aligning.

CAVAN
Manager: Mickey Graham (fourth year)
Odds: All-Ireland 300-1, Ulster 18-1, Tailteann Cup 3-1
Next up: v Antrim, Corrigan Park, Saturday, 2.30

Promotion as champions from Division Four was the least of their ambitions but they got it done. Paddy Lynch has been an exciting addition to the inside forward line and with stalwarts Conor Moynagh, Gearóid McKiernan and Thomas Galligan in good fettle, they won't accept Tailteann favouritism just yet. Tricky opener in Corrigan Park, that said. No scope for slacking.

DERRY
Manager:
Rory Gallagher (third year)
Odds: All-Ireland 50-1, Ulster 9-1
Next up: v Tyrone, Omagh, May 1st, 4.0

Derry beware – Tyrone are talking them up. A couple of fine league campaigns on the spin has them in position for the next push. Conor Glass has reintegrated beautifully in midfield and Shane McGuigan might be the best snap-shooter in the province. Probably still just a cut below the top eight but it won't be a surprise if they spoil the campaign of one of the higher-ups.

DONEGAL
Manager: Declan Bonner (fifth year)
Odds: All-Ireland 18-1, Ulster 10-3
Next up: v Armagh, Sunday, Ballybofey, 2.0

Good enough to take anyone when they're on but frustratingly haven't been in an All-Ireland semi-final since beating the Dubs in 2014. Michael Langan and Ciarán Thompson are back in full training but Oisín Gallen could miss the first month or so. So much still depends on Michael Murphy, a few months short of his 33rd birthday. Huge tie in Ballybofey to start off.

DOWN
Manager: James McCartan (first year)
Odds: All-Ireland 1,000-1, Ulster 66-1, Tailteann Cup 6-1
Next up: v Monaghan, Clones, April 30th

Hard to remember things being at a lower ebb. A recent pre-championship trip to Dublin ended in disciplinary problems and the brief but entirely real prospect of James McCartan walking away. Four players have left the panel in the last month and the league ended in relegation to Division Three. They have the look of a county who want the year to be over.

FERMANAGH
Manager: Kieran Donnelly (first year)
Odds: Tailteann Cup 10-1
Next up: Tailteann Cup, May 28th

Gave Tyrone plenty of it for a good stretch last weekend but must sit back now for a month and a half before they can take a drive at the Tailteann Cup. If they retain their squad and are of a mind to try and win it, they're no 10-1 shot. There won't be a better forward in the competition than Seán Quigley, nor a better midfielder than Ryan Jones.

MONAGHAN
Manager: Séamus McEnaney (third year)
Odds: All-Ireland 28-1, Ulster 7-2
Next up: v Down, Clones, April 30th

Division One survival has become a speciality but they've made it to just one All-Ireland semi-final since 1988 so the bar is easily located. Anything less than a quarter-final will be a bad year, anything more will be good. Gary Mohan and Killian Lavelle have been decent additions but squad depth is an eternal issue. Dead certs for extra-time somewhere along the way. Probably penalties too.

TYRONE
Managers:
Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher (second year)
Odds: All-Ireland 9-1, Ulster 13-8
Next Up: v Derry, May 1st

Conceding two goals against Fermanagh showed some late spring rust and they were generally a bit lacklustre before Conor McKenna arrived. Could possibly do with freshening up – the league didn’t throw up any new face of note. Derry then Monaghan then Armagh or Donegal is a mine-strewn path through Ulster but clearly they will be a menace as long as they’re still standing.

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