Only two rounds have been played so far in the top three Divisions of the Allianz Football League but already it’s clear just how competitive the various groups are going to be as they head for Round 3 next weekend. The same applies in Division 4 which stages its fourth round next Sunday.
Dublin (Division 1), Laois, Derry (Division 2), Wexford, Louth (Division 3), are the only counties on full points while Down (Division 1), Donegal (Division 2), Wicklow, Roscommon, Longford, (Division 4) have also remained unbeaten but have dropped points in draws.
Galway (Division 1), Tyrone, Antrim (Division 2), Limerick (Division 3) and Kilkenny (Division 4), are the only counties who have still to pick up a point.
ALLIANZ LEAGUES DIVISION 1: IMPROVING DUBLIN DEFEND 100 PER CENT RECORD
Saturday: Dublin v Kerry, Croke Park, 7.30; Down v Armagh, Newry, 7.30.
Sunday (2.30): Galway v Mayo, Tuam Stadium; Cork v Monaghan, Pairc Ui Chaoimh;
Dublin are the only side with full points in Division 1; they are top scorers on 5-22 from two games; they have the best scoring difference….happy days for Pat Gilroy and his squad early in the new League campaign.
Wins over Armagh and Cork have set them up for Round 3 when they take on Kerry in Croke Park as part of the Spring Series next Saturday night. Dublin beat Kerry (1-12 to 1-10) in the corresponding tie in Killarney last year. Kerry got their first points of the season last Sunday, beating Mayo by four points in Castlebar.
It’s early days in the new League campaign but already there are concerns in Galway and Mayo, who have picked up just one point between them from two games. Galway lost to Monaghan and Down and now have their first home game of the campaign when they host Mayo in Tuam Stadium on Sunday. The game will be screened ‘live’ on TG4.
Mayo won the corresponding tie by 2-14 to 1-10 last year, en route to qualifying for the final. Next Sunday’s tie is crucial to both counties as another defeat would leave them in relegation difficulty as they approach the half-way stage.
Cork suffered their first defeat of the new campaign against Dublin last Saturday and will be anxious to get back on the winning trail when they host Monaghan on Sunday. Both sides are on two points from two games. The corresponding tie last year was a very high-scoring affair with Cork edging home by a point, 3-13 to 3-12. Newry will host an all-Ulster clash between great rivals, Down and Armagh on Saturday night. They met twice in last year’s Division 2 campaign with Down winning the group tie by 1-13 to 1-6 before Armagh turned the tables in the final, winning by 0-17 to 1-12 in Croke Park.
ALLIANZ LEAGUE DIVISION 2: EARLY WORRIES FOR TYRONE
Saturday: Antrim v Meath, Casement Park, 7.30.
Sunday (2.30 unless stated): Derry v Laois, Celtic Park 1.30; Donegal v Kildare, Letterkenny; Sligo v Tyrone, Markievicz Park.
Tyrone started the season as favourites to win promotion but already find themselves in early difficulty after losing their first two games to Derry and Donegal. They are the lowest scorers in the group, having managed just 0-19 so far. All of which makes their clash with Sligo in Markievicz Park on Sunday extremely important for Mickey Harte’s squad who dropped down to Division 2 last April.
It’s crucial too for Sligo, who have picked up one of a possible four points, leaving them just ahead of Tyrone and Antrim on the table. Antrim have the worst defensive record in the group so far, having conceded 2-29 in two games, so they are in need of a boost when they host Meath in Casement Park on Saturday night. Meath took their first points last Sunday, beating Sligo by seven points.
Derry and Laois, who clash in Celtic Park on Sunday, have both won their first two games so the winners will be well primed to advance their drive for promotion. Derry have beaten Tyrone and Kildare while Laois beat Meath and Antrim. Donegal have made a good start under new manager, Jim McGuinness, picking up three of four points and will have home advantage against Kildare in Letterkenny on Sunday. Kildare were easy winners (1-17 to 1-9) when the sides clashed in last year’s League.
ALLIANZ LEAGUE DIVISION 3: LEADERS CLASH IN WEXFORD PARK
Sunday (2.30): Wexford v Louth, Wexford Park; Tipperary v Westmeath, Thurles; Limerick v Offaly, Newcastlewest; Cavan v Waterford, Kingspan Breffni Park.
It’s early days in the League but already Wexford and Louth have made a statement of intent by winning their first two games. It makes their clash in Wexford Park next Sunday extremely interesting as the winners will be in an excellent position in the promotion race. Louth won the corresponding tie last year, 0-13 to 1-8.
Westmeath’s long run without a League win was extended on Sunday when they drew with Cavan so the search for two points goes on and takes them to Thurles on Sunday to take on Tipperary who have won one of two.
After being promoted to Division 3 last year, and running Kerry and Cork close in the championship, hopes were high in Limerick that they would progress to Division 2 but they have made a poor start, losing their first two games to Tipperary and Waterford, scoring a total of just 14 points. They will be at home to Offaly, who have won one of two so far while Cavan host Waterford as both attempt to surge into the top half of the table.
ALLIANZ LEAGUE DIVISION 4: INTENSE BATTLE TO GET INTO PROMOTION RACE
Sunday (2.30 unless stated): London v Leitrim, Ruislip 1.0; Carlow v Clare, Dr. Cullen Park; Fermanagh v Wicklow, Enniskillen; Longford v Kilkenny, Pearse Park.
There was always going to be an intriguing battle for promotion and it’s certainly living up to its billing. Wicklow lead the way on scoring difference from Roscommon (both have picked up five of six points) but Mick O’Dwyer’s men now face a huge test when they travel to Enniskillen to take on Fermanagh who have won one of two so far. Roscommon have a bye this weekend which means that they will almost certainly be overtaken by Longford (they have taken three points of a possible four) who take on Kilkenny in Pearse Park. Kilkenny have lost all three games so far, conceding a total of 8-51 while scoring just 1-3. Carlow have taken just one of a possible six points so far and badly need to pick up points against Clare, who beat them by a point in the corresponding tie last year. Leitrim have made a good start, winning two of three games and will be fancied to make it three of four when they play London on Sunday.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE 2011: RESULTS & FIXTURES
Round 1: Dublin 2-12 Armagh 1-11; Mayo 1-13 Down 3-7; Cork 0-17 Kerry 1-13; Monaghan 0-19 Galway 0-14.
Round 2: Dublin 3-13 Cork 0-16; Kerry 1-9 Mayo 0-8; Armagh 1-11 Monaghan 0-13; Down 2-11 Galway 1-9.
Round 3: Feb 26 (Sat): Down v Armagh; Dublin v Kerry; Feb 27 (Sun): Cork v Monaghan; Galway v Mayo.
Round 4: Mar 12 (Sat): Cork v Down; Mar 13 (Sun): Mayo v Armagh; Monaghan v Dublin; Kerry v Galway.
Round 5: Mar 19 (Sat): Down v Monaghan; Mar 20 (Sun): Galway v Cork; Armagh v Kerry; Dublin v Mayo.
Round 6: Apr 2 (Sat): Dublin v Down; Apr 3 (Sun): Monaghan v Kerry; Mayo v Cork; Armagh v Galway.
Round 7: Apr 10 (Sun); Monaghan v Mayo; Kerry v Down; Galway v Dublin; Cork v Armagh.
Apr 24: Final.
Round 1: Laois 1-14 Meath 1-11; Donegal 2-11 Sligo 1-14; Kildare 1-17 Antrim 0-11; Derry 1-11 Tyrone 0-13.
Round 2: Donegal 1-10 Tyrone 0-6; Derry 0-13 Kildare 0-11; Meath 1-12 Sligo 0-8; Laois 1-12 Antrim 0-10.
Round 3: Feb 26 (Sun): Antrim v Meath; Feb 27 (Sun): Sligo v Tyrone; Donegal v Kildare; Derry v Laois.
Round 4: Mar 12 (Sat): Tyrone v Antrim; Mar 13 (Sun): Meath v Donegal; Kildare v Laois; Sligo v Derry.
Round 5: Mar 19 (Sat): Derry v Donegal; Laois v Tyrone; Mar 20 (Sun): Kildare v Meath; Antrim v Sligo.
Round 6: Apr 3 (Sun): Donegal v Antrim; Tyrone v Kildare; Derry v Meath; Sligo v Laois.
Round 7: Apr 10 (Sun): Antrim v Derry; Laois v Donegal; Kildare v Sligo; Meath v Tyrone.
Apr 24: Final.
Round 1: Offaly 1-12 Cavan 0-8; Wexford 4-11 Waterford 2-6; Tipperary 0-10 Limerick 0-6. Louth 2-13 Westmeath 0-11.
Round 2: Waterford 2-8 Limerick 0-8; Westmeath 0-12 Cavan 1-9; Wexford 0-12 Offaly 0-11; Louth 1-12 Tipperary 1-10.
Round 3: Feb 27 (Sun): Wexford v Louth; Cavan v Waterford; Tipperary v Westmeath; Limerick v Offaly.
Round 4: Mar 12 (Sat): Waterford v Tipperary; Mar 13 (Sun): Louth v Offaly; Limerick v Cavan; Westmeath v Wexford.
Round 5: Mar 20 (Sun): Louth v Limerick; Westmeath v Waterford; Offaly v Tipperary; Wexford v Cavan.
Round 6: Apr 2 (Sat): Cavan v Louth; Apr 3 (Sun): Limerick v Westmeath; Waterford v Offaly; Tipperary v Wexford.
Round 7: Apr 3 (Sun): Westmeath v Offaly; Waterford v Louth; Limerick v Wexford; Cavan v Tipperary.
Apr 23: Final
Round 1: London 0-16 Kilkenny 0-2; Leitrim 0-12 Clare 0-11; Longford 1-7 Roscommon 0-10; Carlow 2-10 Wicklow 1-13; Fermanagh (bye).
Round 2: Roscommon 1-14 London 0-5; Clare 5-17 Kilkenny 1-1; Wicklow 1-15 Leitrim 1-10; Fermanagh 1-10 Carlow 0-6; Longford (bye).
Round 3: Longford 1-8 Fermanagh 0-5; Leitrim 3-18 Kilkenny 0-0; Roscommon 2-13 Carlow 0-8; Wicklow 2-22 London 1-4.
Round 4: Feb 27 (Sun): Fermanagh v Wicklow; London v Leitrim; Longford v Kilkenny; Carlow v Clare; Roscommon (bye).
Round 5: Mar 12 (Sat): Clare v London; Mar 13 (Sun): Wicklow v Longford; Roscommon v Fermanagh; Kilkenny v Carlow; Leitrim (bye).
Round 6: Mar 5 (Sat): London v Longford; Mar 20 (Sun): Clare v Roscommon; Leitrim v Fermanagh; Kilkenny v Wicklow; Carlow (bye).
Round 7: Mar 27 (Sun): Wicklow v Roscommon; Leitrim v Carlow; Clare v Longford; Kilkenny v Fermanagh; London (bye).
Round 8: Apr 3 (Sun): Longford v Leitrim; Roscommon v Kilkenny; Carlow v London; Fermanagh v Clare; Wicklow (bye).
Round 9: Apr 3 (Sun): Roscommon v Leitrim; Wicklow v Clare; Longford v Carlow; Fermanagh v London; Kilkenny (bye).
Apr 23: Final