NFL Division One: Malachy Clerkin’s team-by-team guide
Dessie Farrell looking for early success with the Dubs but there’s plenty of competition
Dessie Farrell will take charge of his first league campaign with Dublin. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Manager: Declan Bonner (4th season).
Selectors: Paul McGonagle, Stephen Rochford, Karl Lacey.
Last good league: 2019 Division Two winners.
No strangers to the occasional careless relegation, Donegal would benefit from a longer stint this time. Frank McGlynn has retired and Odhran Man Niallais has confirmed he won’t be back. Patrick McBrearty will miss the opener against Mayo so it will be interesting to see does Bonner call on Michael Murphy this early in his 14th season.
Manager: Dessie Farrell (1st season)
Selectors: Mick Galvin, Shane O’Hanlon
Last good league: 2018 champions
Dessie Farrell has the best job in the country and yet there’s still the whiff of the hospital pass about the way he has been handed the reins. All very well saying the quick turnaround will buy him leeway but a couple of early speedbumps would test that theory. Has to plan without Stephen Cluxton and Con O’Callaghan for a while. An interesting spring, for once.
Manager: Padraic Joyce (1st season)
Selectors: John Divilly, Michéal Ó Domhnaill, John Concannon
Last good league: 2018 runners-up
Considering the firepower that wasn’t available to him, winning the FBD League is no bad start for Padraic Joyce. Some interesting straws in the wind so far - Gary O’Donnell vying with last year’s under-20 captain Seán Mulkerrins at full-back, Cillian McDaid reinvented at wing-back. Expanding Galway’s playing style is the big job. Might take more than one spring to do it.
Manager: Peter Keane (2nd season)
Selectors: Maurice Fitzgerald, Tommy Griffin, Donie Buckley, James Foley
Last good league: 2019 runners-up
Having made the 2019 final without particularly aiming to, they should go close again. Peter Keane has been helped by UCC and IT Tralee’s early exits from the Sigerson. New faces might find it hard to force their way in but Liam Kearney, David Shaw and Tony Brosnan could all make an impact. Diarmuid O’Connor looks set for a break-out year.
Manager: James Horan (2nd season)
Selectors: James Burke, Ciaran McDonald, Martin Lally, Martin McIntyre
Last good league: 2019 champions
The defending champions have lost Andy Moran and Ger Cafferkey to retirement, while Evan Regan has moved to the backroom team as a nutritionist. Jason Doherty will be out for a while with a knee problem but Tom Parsons was fit and firing in pre-season. Fresh faces to keep an eye out for include Jordan Flynn, Brian Walsh and Pádraig O’Hora.
Manager: Andy McEntee (4th season)
Selectors: Donal Curtis, Finian Murtagh, Gerry Cooney, Colm Nally
Last good league: 2019 Division Two runners-up
Back in Division One for the first time in 14 years. A fair chunk of the panel spent the winter tidying up injuries and they will be without Mickey Newman and Pádraig Harnan for most of the spring. Big things are expected of some younger recruits, particularly 19-year-old free-taker Shane Walsh. Staying up would be a decent achievement.
Manager: Seamus McEnaney (1st season, 2nd stint)
Selectors: Peter Donnelly, Conor Laverty, David McCague
A decade after his first go-round, Banty is back. Vinny Corey and Dessie Mone both hung it up over the winter and Stephen O’Hanlon, Owen Duffy and Neil McAdam are gone as well. Usually a solid league team, they’ll be relying on some young/unproven talent in the likes of Aaron Mulligan, Kevin Loughman and Jason Irwin to avoid the drop this time.
Manager: Mickey Harte (18th season)
Selectors: Gavin Devlin, Kevin Madden
Former Antrim forward Kevin Madden has taken Stephen O’Neill’s spot in the Tyrone back-room - what kind of say he will have remains to be seen. Tyrone won’t have Mattie Donnelly for the league, while Cathal McShane’s situation is at best unclear. Ronan O’Neill is back on the panel and we’ll surely see Darragh Canavan at some stage.