GAA football league permutations: who needs what in the final round?

Stakes high for the likes of Dublin, Mayo and Cork on a Sunday loaded with intrigue

Just half a dozen counties head into the final round of the Allianz Football League with neither promotion nor relegation on their minds.

For the rest, whether it's Dublin seeking to add a final chapter to their own version of The Great Escape, Cork's desperate bid to avoid falling through the Tailteann Cup trapdoor or Mickey Harte's quest for back-to-back promotions with Louth, it will all come down to the final round of league games on Sunday afternoon.

Well, almost. Tipperary could secure promotion from Division 4 under the lights on Saturday night but for everyone else it's poised to be a Sunday afternoon loaded with intrigue.

Division 1

Kerry: One of just three teams across all four divisions yet to suffer a defeat after six rounds of games. Beating Armagh last Sunday secured the Kingdom's final spot so, if Jack O'Connor is feeling daring, he could afford to experiment for the visit of All-Ireland holders Tyrone to Killarney.


Mayo: Back-to-back defeats in Rounds 5 and 6 have dented Mayo's hopes of securing a final place. They still have one last opportunity, however, and the 2019 champions will return to the decider if they beat Kildare. It doesn't help that that game will be played in neutral Carrick-on-Shannon.

Armagh: Privately, Kieran McGeeney will be delighted that relegation isn't a concern heading into Round 7. Publicly, he'll be imploring his players to push on for a final place. If they beat Donegal in what is a championship dress rehearsal in Letterkenny, and if Mayo don't beat Kildare, then Armagh are through.

Kildare: Leapfrogging from fourth into second position to earn an unlikely final spot isn't impossible, particularly with their decent scoring difference. Similarly, relegation isn't off the table though the in-form Lilywhites would have to lose to Mayo while Donegal, Tyrone and Monaghan or Dublin would also have to win.

Donegal: Three defeats from their last four games is relegation form though if Declan Bonner's side beat Armagh then they'll remain in Division One. If the stars were to align, a third win of the campaign could even sneak them through to a final though it's most unlikely. Lose in Letterkenny and then relegation becomes a possibility.

Tyrone: Following up their All-Ireland triumph with relegation doesn't bear thinking about – but it could happen. A loss to Kerry, coupled with Dublin or Monaghan winning below them, could drag Tyrone down to Division 2. It at least leaves the Red Hands with a pretty straightforward mindset – beat Kerry in Killarney to be sure of staying up.

Dublin: The great escape that seemed difficult after four rounds is now very much on. Beating Tyrone and Donegal has given Dublin a fighting chance. Whoever loses between themselves and Monaghan in Clones will definitely be relegated. But the winners stand a good chance of staying up, provided results elsewhere don't conspire against them.

Monaghan: Clones will surely be heaving for the visit of Dublin. To stay up, Monaghan must win and hope Tyrone, Donegal and Kildare above them don't all win too. Two crucial points would probably do the trick for Monaghan though their heavy loss to Kildare last weekend doesn't bode well.

Division 2

Galway: One of the few teams with nothing to play for this weekend. Beating Derry so impressively, Galway's sixth win on the spin, earned them promotion. They could experiment against Roscommon but that could open the door for their provincial rivals to gain promotion too, meaning another meeting in the Division Two final.

Roscommon: Roscommon could potentially lose to Galway at Dr Hyde Park and still finish second, if third-placed Derry slip up elsewhere against Meath. Anthony Cunningham is much more likely to demand that his players shoot for the win that would secure their return to Division One, top spot in the table and a Division Two final place.

Derry: It was all looking so good for Derry until they ran into Roscommon in Round 5, drawing and dropping their first points of the campaign. Then they were hammered by Galway at Owenbeg. The 2019 Division Four champions can still make it to Division One but must beat Meath and hope Roscommon lose.

Meath: Stuttering and stumbling initially, the upwardly mobile Royals are now unbeaten in four games and are fresh off back to back wins. They're out of the promotion picture but equally have left relegation concerns in their rear view mirror. A win over Derry in Navan could ruin the visitors' promotion hopes.

Clare: The Banner's league campaign is in danger of fading out with hardly a fizzle of excitement. Promotion is impossible and, despite three losses in a row, relegation is only a mathemtical possibility at this stage. They will want to sign off with a win over Down to raise morale.

Cork: Cork's gloom was lifted by their weekend win over Down and if they beat Offaly, in what is a relegation decider, they will somehow stay up. Even a draw would do the trick for the Rebels who could potentially hold onto their status despite winning just once in seven outings.

Offaly: Only a win will suffice for John Maughan's men. The stakes couldn't be higher because while survival is the prize for the winners in Tullamore, Offaly risk being demoted to Division Three and to the Tailteann Cup in front of their home supporters. Good luck trying to raise morale for the championship if that scenario transpires.

Down: The good vibes surrounding James McCartan's return to the hot seat have probably dissipated at this stage. Five losses from six has already yielded relegation and the likelihood of Tailteann Cup football. Beating Clare in Newry would at least lift spirits and Down could certainly do with that.

Division 3

The long and short of it is that if Louth and Limerick each claim what would be their fifth wins of the campaign, they'll say hello to Division Two and goodbye to the prospect of Tailteann Cup football.

In Louth's case, that would be a remarkable achievement considering Mickey Harte inherited a Division Four side just 16 months ago. They travel to play struggling Wicklow while Limerick are at home to a Fermanagh team that looks destined for a mid-table finish.

Antrim and Westmeath meet in Belfast and the winners of that game, with favourable results elsewhere, could jump into a promotion position if things go their way. At the bottom, two from Laois, Wicklow and Longford will be relegated.

Division 4

The Tipperary v London game is the only Saturday encounter and a home win under lights at Semple Stadium would secure promotion for David Power's side. It would also have the effect of promoting Cavan before they've even played against rock bottom Waterford on Sunday.

In truth, Cavan, leading the table on 10 points, are as good as promoted but there is a possibility that if Tipp were to draw with London, and if Sligo or Leitrim win on Sunday, then three different teams could end up locked on 10 points on Sunday.

It’s more likely, of course, that Tipp pick up the win over London on home soil and give the rest of the Division Four games on Sunday a slightly underwhelming feel.