Football league previews: Throw-in times, TV details and verdicts

Dublin meet Kerry on Sunday while Donegal can get the better of Monaghan

Dublin take on Kerry in Thurles on Sunday. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Dublin take on Kerry in Thurles on Sunday. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Saturday

Division One North: Donegal v Monaghan

Throw-in: 5pm. Venue: MacCumhaill Park. How to watch: Live on RTÉ/eir Sport

Donegal’s consistency and the eternal performance of Michael Murphy were enough to see off 14-man Tyrone. Both teams took the emphasis off defence to an extent - once Donegal got numerical advantage they slowed things down and managed out the game. Monaghan are using the matches to develop players and paid the price against Armagh. They were competitive, though, in the circumstances but Séamus McEnaney’s second-half run on the bench to introduce Conor McManus and the Hughes brothers in the second half didn’t tilt the balance. They’ll find this harder going with Donegal’s attack in decent form and a home win looks on the cards.

Verdict: Donegal

Division One North: Armagh v Tyrone

Throw-in: 7pm. Venue: Athletic Grounds. How to watch: Live on eir Sport

The problem with this short-form league is that there isn’t much room to develop players or styles, which impacts on Tyrone whose new management of Fergal Logan and Brian Dooher don’t have a heap of time to loosen the restraints and let the football flow free. They put in a good shift in Omagh last week and Paul Donaghy had an impressive debut notching 0-10, four from play but being down to 14 was a clear handicap. Armagh’s return to Division One and their first win since March 2012 showcased some attacking intent with early, direct ball into the full forwards and an anxiety to attack quickly. This will test both sides - Tyrone’s evolution and Armagh’s progress.

Verdict: Tyrone

Division Two North: Westmeath v Mayo

Throw-in: 3pm. Venue: TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar. How to watch: Live on eir Sport

Mayo’s crushing victory on opening day has to be seen in the context of a poor enough display by Down but the Connacht champions are in the right place to try out a few things and still not compromise outcomes. Westmeath came very close to winning in Navan and will be disappointed with the indiscipline that gave away needless frees.

Verdict: Mayo

Division Two South: Laois v Cork

Throw-in: 7pm. Venue: MW Hire O’Moore Park. How to watch: Live on GAAGO

Two teams with deflating first matches. Cork’s ponderous build-ups and laboured attacking was easily disposed of by Kildare and they will want to sharpen the tools for this. Mike Quirke’s Laois looked flat as pancakes in Ennis despite the greater panel options, which saw the return of the Kingstons inter alia. Ronan McCarthy loses Brian Hurley to injury but the return of established forwards Ciarán Sheehan and Luke Connolly can get Cork moving.

Verdict: Cork

Division Three North: Derry v Fermanagh

Throw-in: 5pm. Venue: Owenbeg. How to watch: Live on GAAGO

Derry were stronger, faster and better than Longford a week ago and had the bonus of an excellent return from AFL by Conor Glass. The visitors also had a good start, defeating Ulster champions Cavan. Seán Quigley, in his inimitable style, led the way but equally eye-catching was the pace and exuberance of the younger players introduced by Ryan McMenamin. On the evidence this should be too much of a stretch.

Verdict: Derry

Division Three North: Cavan v Longford

Throw-in: 7pm. Venue: Kingspan Breffni. How to watch: Live on GAAGO

The chastened neighbours meet. Longford were overpowered by Derry and beaten everywhere on the field. A clean slate is the most they can take out of it. Cavan had an encouraging debut for Patrick Lynch - to go with the ice bath of reality, Ulster title or not, administered by Fermanagh.

Verdict: Cavan

Division Three South: Offaly v Limerick

Throw-in: 3pm. Venue: Bórd Na Mona O’Connor Park. How to watch: Live on GAAGO

Offaly have been solid of late but their win in Aughrim could have been more emphatic. Limerick were impressive in bringing Tipp back down to earth and their lively attack will be a threat to what at times looked like a porous defence.

Verdict: Limerick

Division Three South: Tipperary v Wicklow

Throw-in: 4.30pm. Venue: Semple Stadium. How to watch: Live on GAAGO

An unscheduled set-back for the Munster champions last week, whose early superiority evaporated. That should prove a powerful stimulus in a match they now need against a Wicklow side that did better than their performance against Offaly suggested.

Verdict: Tipperary

Division Four South: Wexford v Waterford

Throw-in: 3pm. Venue: Chadwicks Wexford Park. How to watch: Live on GAAGO

Wexford, sorting out further Covid complications, had last week off and are likely to hit the ground running against Waterford, coming off a 15-point walloping by Carlow.

Verdict: Wexford

Sunday

Division One South: Dublin v Kerry

Throw-in: 1.45pm. Venue: Semple Stadium. How to watch: Live on TG4

Consensus is that Kerry need the win to rehab after last year’s calamity and they were on a mission last week in Tralee, abetted by a pathetic Galway display that allowed David Clifford et al to raid without hindrance. Peter Keane’s problem is that his team’s attacking capabilities when allowed time and space aren’t in question but when they meet resistance - that’s different. Dublin tried out a few players in Roscommon and squandered scoring chances but will be relaxed about this as long as they’re not overrun - the defeat in Tralee two years ago didn’t alter the balance between the sides. Dublin’s Covid training breach brings them to Thurles instead of Parnell Park and the open spaces will play to both sides’ strengths. Kerry’s momentum and motivation are in a higher register.

Verdict: Kerry

Division One South: Galway v Roscommon

Throw-in: 2pm. Venue: Pearse Stadium. How to watch: Live on GAAGO

Galway desperately need to arrest the slide of the past year. They haven’t won a match since the return to play last October and their accumulating woes climaxed (they’ll hope!) in last week’s Tralee dismantling. This is all the more critical given the likely championship meeting between the counties. Roscommon were also well beaten but there the comparison ends. Their more cautious play and surrender of re-starts is tricky to dovetail with a front-loaded team with centrefield shortcomings but they gave Dublin a fair contest for a while. Can Pádraic Joyce’s men snap out of it? Maybe not.

Verdict: Roscommon

Division Two North: Down v Meath

Throw-in: 3.45pm. Venue: Athletic Grounds. How to watch: Live on GAAGO

Meath had more difficulty putting away Westmeath than expected and it ended up as a bit of a stress test. Down’s ‘home’ fixture is forfeit even if it more inconveniences Meath to head for Armagh. Down were poor in Castlebar and lack bite in the absence of the Johnstons. If Meath get going immediately unlike last week, they have the collective goods to secure their place in the division.

Verdict: Meath

Division Two South: Kildare v Clare

Throw-in: 2pm. Venue: St. Conleth’s Park. How to watch: Live on GAAGO

Jack O’Connor’s team were impressive winners, albeit against an uninspired Cork, and demonstrated an appetite for work and team-work in a convincing display. Clare too - and yet again - surprised with a fluent defeat of Laois that was put to bed early. There was promise in the display of debutant wing back Daniel Walsh and Kildare will be mindful of previous stumbles in this fixture. There were nonetheless encouraging signs that O’Connor is getting on top of this.

Verdict: Kildare

Division Four North: Leitrim v Louth

Throw-in: 3pm. Venue: Avantcard Páirc Seán MacDiarmada. How to watch: Live on GAAGO

Leitrim tumbled in week one after losing defender Aidan Flynn to a red card up to which point they’d been competitive in Sligo. Despite high hopes Mickey Harte’s team got tipped in the end by Antrim and will remember they lost this fixture last year.

Verdict: Leitrim

Division Four North: Antrim v Sligo

Throw-in: 4pm. Venue: Corrigan Park. How to watch: Live on GAAGO

Of the two winners from last week, Antrim were the more impressive in the battle of Tyrone managements. Enda McGinley’s Antrim were coherent and well drilled and will be a challenge for Tony McEntee’s side for whom Niall Murphy was in top form.

Verdict: Antrim

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