Mayo need to improve to secure top-flight status
Allianz Football League previews
Monaghan’s Conor McManus and Dublin’s Mick Fitzsimons may renew acquaintances at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
SUNDAY (All throw-ins 3.0)
Donegal v Mayo (Ballybofey, Live, TG4)
A result either way and somebody’s streak is coming to an end here – either Mayo’s 20-year stretch in the top division or Donegal’s eight-year unbeaten run in Ballybofey will bite the dust. The only outcome that can keep both runs alive is a draw.
Neither side is close to full strength. Donegal will have to do without Patrick McBrearty and Neil McGee, although they did see the return of Frank McGlynn and Paddy McGrath last week against Monaghan. Mayo’s list of absentees is far longer than they’d like at this stage in proceedings and the news that Lee Keegan is going to be out until well into the summer is a further blow.
Ordinarily, you’d readily back their experience to have its say here. But with Cillian O’Connor missing too and an abysmal showing against Tyrone the last day still in their bloodstream, it isn’t a confident shout.
Dublin v Monaghan, Croke Park (Deferred coverage, TG4)
It’s been generally tight enough between these sides in the league in recent years, with four of their last five springtime games decided by a goal or less. But Monaghan haven’t won a match in this fixture since 2006 and with nothing to play for on either side, it’s hard to come up with any good reason for them to start now.
Kildare v Galway, Newbridge
The table might not lie, exactly. But it ain’t the truth – and certainly not the whole truth – either. Far worse teams than Kildare’s 2018 vintage have amassed points in a Division One campaign. Galway have a grudge-match final to get ready for and you’d imagine Kildare’s desire to get something to show for these months will carry the day.
Tyrone v Kerry, Healy Park
Hard to imagine there’s been an outing between these sides with less ballyhoo surrounding it in the past 15 years. Exactly the sort of game that could spring into a classic, precisely because of the low stakes.
Roscommon v Cork, Dr Hyde Park
This fixture produced a combined score of 7-35 a couple of years back – Cork put up 3-10 of it and still managed to lose by 18 points. A win for the Rossies gets them promoted back to Division One; the return of Ultan Harney to the starting line-up after a year’s absence will them no harm.
Meath v Down, Páirc Tailteann
It’s been a scruffy league for both these sides and since neither of them have won a game since early February, the high likelihood now is that one of them will slip down to Division Three. A win for Down here relegates Meath; a Meath win means Down will have to play – and win – their game against Tipperary. Maybe home advantage will have its way.
Cavan v Tipperary, Breffni Park
After such an encouraging start to the league, it would be pretty careless of Cavan to lose out on promotion to Division One because of defeats to Roscommon and Tipperary in their final two games. They owe Tipp for last years’ qualifier defeat on home soil. More than that, they owe it to themselves to come through a pressurised encounter.
Clare v Louth, Cusack Park
Clare aren’t definitively safe but they can take care of the final inch here.
Longford v Fermanagh, Pearse Park
Longford looked a slim bet for promotion a couple of weeks back but beating Westmeath has left them in with a serious shout now. It means a draw will do them here against a team that hasn’t beaten them since 2008.
Sligo v Derry, Markievicz Park
If Offaly manage to pull off a win in Mullingar, this game become crucial. Derry ran up 2-20 last weekend so if they can carry that form forward, they’ll be fine.
Westmeath v Offaly, Cusack Park
That Longford defeat has left Westmeath with an all-but impossible route to promotion, involving a draw in the top match and a 27-point win here. Not going to happen.
Wexford v Armagh, Wexford Park, 1pm
Already relegated v already promoted. Enough said.
Carlow v Laois,Cullen Park, 1pm
Laois need a result here to be sure of making the final.
London v Waterford, Ruislip, 1pm
London can round off their best league in years with their highest finish.
Limerick v Antrim,Newcastlewest, 1pm
Any slip-up for Laois and Antrim can bring it to the last game, as long as they do the needful here.
Leitrim v Wicklow, Páirc Seán MacDiarmada
Leitrim handed out a fair hiding in this game last year and may well do so again.