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We take a look ahead to the final two rounds of games in Division 1 of football and the permutations which may occur. A point worth noting is that there is no League final and rather the team who tops the group will be crowned Champions.
What we know:
-Meath are relegated and will be playing Division 2 football in 2021 having suffered five losses from five despite being competitive in games against Mayo and Galway all those months ago. For them, their remaining games away against Dublin and Monaghan will serve as competitive warm-up games before the upcoming championship, if not at least to restore a bit of pride.
-Mayo are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Before lockdown, Pearse stadium in Salthill was braced for Championship-like crowds on a chilly Sunday in March for a do-or-die encounter for Mayo who needed to win to avoid relegation with only three points on the board. Galway fans were salivating at the prospect of relegating their neighbours with a win and bolstering their own chances of a League title.
Fast forward seven months, this game is refixed for Sunday the 18th of October in Tuam Stadium, with the same permutations still in play. The form book is out the window at this stage, and this should be a real 50-50 battle between these sides. Mayo will likely also need to win against Tyrone the following week at home to have any chance of avoiding the drop and even this may not be enough. That is really all we know for sure heading into these games which makes for some exciting prospects.
How the fixtures play out
On the first Saturday of action we see Monaghan host Kerry and Dublin play host to Meath. Monaghan are looking over their shoulder ominously as they sit two points above Mayo. They will be looking for a win here to give them a bit of breathing room for a week at least. However, they do play Meath at home on the final Sunday in a game they would be expected to win.
Kerry on the other hand are looking upwards at Galway who sit one point above them at the top of the table. They will be hoping to do their own job and secure wins against Monaghan and Donegal on the final weekend and hope Galway slip up along the way to finish top of the group and secure a title. Worth noting Kerry also possess a tie breaker over Galway should they finish level.
Dublin are in a similar situation to Kerry, as they sit on 6 points and know that a win against Meath and a win on the Final weekend away to Galway would give them a good chance at a title. However, they would be reliant on a favour from elsewhere. For Galway it is in their own hands, beat Mayo and beat Dublin and you are Champions, easier said than done, of course.
Let’s not forget about Tyrone and Donegal. They face off on Sunday the 18th in Ballybofey. Tyrone sit on six points and have shot at winning the title with a victory here and also against Mayo on the final weekend. They will need favours from elsewhere and given that they received a pasting against Galway, they have a negative points difference and would also lose a one-on-one tie breaker scenario with Galway should they finish level on points. Tyrone face an uphill battle for a League title but in 2020 anything is possible.
Donegal on the other hand are in a similar situation to Monaghan on five points and should be more worried about the threat of relegation than anything else. A win here would all but guarantee them safety as they do have a tie breaker on Monaghan and a superior points difference to Mayo and Monaghan. Donegal will be hoping to win here to take the pressure off them for their trip to Kerry on final weekend.
If Dublin, Galway and Kerry each win their round six games, something to potentially look out for on the final weekend is, if Dublin beat Galway they would do Kerry a favour and open the door for them to win the League with a victory over Donegal. A lot of ifs at this stage, but it is a possible scenario which may not go down too well in the capital. Just about anything could happen in the final two rounds so it makes for an intriguing finish to the Leagues and an excellent warm up for Championship.
The final two round of fixtures are as follows:
Sat 17th Oct
14:00 Monaghan vs Kerry
19:00 Dublin vs Meath
Sun 18th Oct
14:00 Galway vs Mayo
16:00 Donegal vs Tyrone
Sat 24th Oct
14:00 Kerry vs Donegal
Sun 25th Oct
Monaghan vs Meath, 2pm
Mayo vs Tyrone, 2pm
Galway Vs Dublin, 2pm