Weekend GAA football previews: Dublin the acid test for high-flying Mayo

Kerry face tough assignment in Galway as they seek to extend their 100 per cent record

Mayo’s Brian Reape on his way to scoring a goal in the Allianz Football League Division 1 match against Roscommon at  MacHale Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Mayo’s Brian Reape on his way to scoring a goal in the Allianz Football League Division 1 match against Roscommon at MacHale Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Saturday

Division One (7pm unless stated)

Dublin v Mayo, Croke Park, Live, Eir Sport 1
Any optimism around Mayo’s fine start to the league must be tempered by their desperate recent league record against Dublin. In the last four league meetings, Dublin have outscored Mayo by 5-53 to 0-36. Not only is it five years since Mayo scored a league goal against the Dubs, their starting forwards have offered a paltry nine points from play in those four games. Brian Reape, Fionn McDonagh, Matthew Ruane and Ciarán Treacy get their sink-or-swim moment. Verdict: Dublin

Tyrone v Monaghan, Healy Park, Live, Eir Sport 2
Rank carelessness has Monaghan going to Omagh more in need of the points than they ought to be. They had a measure of control in their games against Roscommon and Galway but saw neither of them out. They are light around midfield all of a sudden, with Fintan Kelly sidelined for the foreseeable future with a knee injury. Tyrone will see this as just the fixture to get their campaign back on track. Verdict: Tyrone

Division Two

Cork v Meath, Páirc Uí Rinn
Mark White and Kevin Flahive were involved in UCC’s Sigerson win on Wednesday night and will be again here for Cork. More good news comes in the shape of Sean Powter’s return to the squad for the first time in 12 months. They will need all they can get against a Meath side that should be further ahead at the top of the table. Verdict: Meath

Sunday (2pm unless stated)

Division One

Galway v Kerry, Tuam Stadium (Deferred coverage, TG4, 5.15)
Good test for both sides, this. Could be cagey enough and not overly pretty, given the premium both sides are putting on bedding in their respective defensive systems. Kerry are without the suspended Brian Ó Beaglaoich, Galway have confirmed that Damien Comer will miss the rest of the league. Verdict: Kerry

Cavan v Roscommon, Kingspan Breffni, 2.30
Roscommon’s oddly dominant relationship with Cavan can continue here, with Gearóid McKiernan still not back for Mickey Graham’s side. The Rossies have had a noticeably harder edge under Anthony Cunningham and should prevail. Verdict: Roscommon

Division Two

Armagh v Tipperary, Athletic Grounds
Division Two is such a snakepit that this is simultaneously a relegation four-pointer and a chance for both sides to kick themselves into the promotion race. Tipp are still without Michael Quinlivan, Armagh have Jamie Clarke back after suspension. Could be the difference. Verdict: Armagh

Donegal v Fermanagh, Letterkenny
Batten down the hatches. Two Ulster counter-attacking teams in February does not a feast of football make. Fermanagh are the lowest-scoring team in the country yet they sit joint top of the division. Donegal have a long afternoon ahead but should prevail. Verdict: Donegal

Kildare v Clare, Newbridge
Kildare have quietly been having a wretched league – just one point from play against Fermanagh and their only win has been against Cork. Clare have a similar record but a better points difference so Cian O’Neill’s side can’t afford to lose here. Verdict: Kildare

Division Three

Longford v Down, Pearse Park
You’d have needed plenty of guesses at the start of Division Three before you got to Longford being the only unbeaten side after three games. Paddy Tally’s Down side are a conservative lot and could find it hard to break down the meanest defence in the division. Verdict: Down

Louth v Sligo, Gaelic Grounds, 2.30
Wayne Kierans has worked a small miracle in Louth so far, albeit he continues to be suspended from the sideline for an altercation with a linesman in the Longford game. Sligo have had a rotten league so far and could be in dire straits after this one. Verdict: Louth

Westmeath v Laois, Cusack Park, 2.30
After the wobble against Louth, John Sugrue’s side got back on track against Sligo and are the joint-top scorers in the country. Westmeath are only averaging around 12 points a game, which could leave them a few short. Verdict: Laois

Offaly v Carlow, O’Connor Park, 3.0
Carlow had a leaden day against Longford last time out but should have enough in hand here to frustrate John Maughan’s inexperienced young side. Niall McNamee made his return off the bench against Louth and should see more game time. Verdict: Carlow

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