Allianz Division 3 – Weekend Preview
Longford v Roscommon: Glennon Brothers Pearse Park (Sunday 2.30 pm)
Neighbours and great rivals Longford and Roscommon head Division 3 of the Allianz Football League so their clash is sure to attract a big crowd to Sunday’s game at the Longford venue.
The defeat of St Brigid’s in the AIB All-Ireland club championship is to Roscommon’s advantage though it remains to be seen how many of the St Brigid’s side will line out from the start for Des Newton’s side..
A busy time ahead for the Rossies who will then face Antrim, Wexford and Cavan on consecutive Sundays. Karol Mannion, Senan and Ian Kilbride though are likely to play some part on Sunday.
“It’s obviously lovely to see lads coming back in terms of strengthening the squad and the options they will provide but there are still worries about some players. We wanted to get a look at Niall Kilroy at this stage but he’s carrying a knock. We’ve yet to see what a fully fit Colin Compton can give us. Donal Shine will be okay for Sunday and David O’Gara is back in training,” Manager Newton told the ‘Roscommon Herald’..
For Glen Ryan’s side, victory on Sunday over their near neighbours would give their hopes of promotion a massive boost; on the other hand defeat would leave them facing an uphill struggle since they face Sligo the following week.Such is the competitive nature of this division. Doubts remain about the fitness of Paul Kelly, Francis McGee, Martin Brady and Niall Kavanagh.
Verdict: A narrow win for the Rossies with Donie Shine in top form plus the return of the St Brigid’s lads making all the difference but it will be close, very close.
Wexford v Tipperary: Wexford Park (Sunday 2.30 pm).
A ‘must win’ game for the Model County side here following the defeat against Sligo. No problems in attack where the Wexford men have scored 5-26 in their two outings todate but Manager Jason Ryan is seriously concerned about his defence leaking 5-27 in their two outings to-date.
He told the ‘ Wexford People’ : “We have shown good attacking options given our scoring for ratio, but our defence and covering back ability is something we have been working on over the past two weeks”
“We had a lot of games, so the break for training over the past two weeks gave us ample time to work on aspects of our game, bringing improvement where needed.”
Tipperary, under John Evans, find themselves in a relegation battle after defeats by Roscommon and Antrim but they are close to full strength for their trip to Wexford Park and can be expected to show improvement on their recent displays especially with Philip Austin and Barry Grogan in the side.
Verdict: Wexford to tighten up in defence and come through here with some four or five points to spare with Ben Brosnan in fine form again.
Antrim v Offaly : Casement Park, Saturday 7.00pm)
Offaly make the long journey North more in hope than in confidence after disappointing displays to-date in early season games in the O’Byrne Cup and Allianz League.
Losses to Longford and Roscommon in their opening games make it imperative that they win here if they are to hold even the slightest hope of promotion whilst defeat would leave them in serious danger of relegation. They played well against Laois in a challenge match last weekend and welcome back Alan McNamee and Brian Connor but star forward Niall McNamee won’t be travelling to Belfast though he has returned to training.
Antrim made to long journey to Semple Stadium last time out and won more convincingly than the one goal margin suggested. Manager Liam Bradley will be looking to his side repeating the intensity of that performance in Thurles and has named a full strength side for Offaly’s visit.
Verdict: Antrim by four or five points under the Casement Park floodlights.
Cavan v Sligo, Kingspan Breffni Park, Saturday 7pm.
Cavan are looking for their first win in the Allianz League as they host Sligo who lost to Antrim in the first round though Kevin Walsh’s charges came up trumps 4-14 to 1-17 in their next game against Wexford.
No end yet to the Seanie Johnson saga though Cavan sources now believe that the GAA HQ will not sanction a transfer to Kildare. For now though of greater importance to the Breffni men is Saturday’s clash against Sligo.
Val Andrews includes both Mark McKeever & Martin Dunne in his starting line up. It will be McKeever’s first league start of the campaign whilst Cavan Gaels sharpshooter, Martin Dunne showed soem fine form in recent McKenna Cup games and Cavan fans are hoping that he can translate this form to the Allianz League where his sharp shooting is badly needed. One for the future.
Sligo were very impressive against Wexford when Adrian Marren notched up 3-5 and they will be looking to him to lead the way again on Saturday evening.
Verdict: An away win here for Sligo though recent signs of a Cavan revival on the way.
A reminder of where we are in Division 3 todate and the games still to come.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE RESULTS AND FIXTURES
Round 1: Feb 4: Antrim 0-13 Sligo 0-12; Feb 5: Longford 2-15 Offaly 0-8, Wexford 4-9 Cavan 1-13; Roscommon 1-12 Tipperary 0-12.
Round 2: Feb 11: Longford 0-10 Cavan 0-7; Feb 12: Roscommon 0-12 Offaly 1-6; Antrim 1-13 Tipperary 0-13; Sligo 4-14 Wexford 1-17.
Round 3: Mar 3: Antrim v Offaly; Cavan v Sligo; Mar 4: Longford v Roscommon, Wexford v Tipperary.
Round 4: Mar 11: Tipperary v Cavan; Offaly v Wexford; Sligo v Longford; Roscommon v Antrim.
Round 5: Mar 18: Cavan v Offaly; Longford v Antrim; Wexford v Roscommon; Sligo v Tipperary.
Round 6: Mar 24: Tipperary v Longford; Mar 25: Antrim v Wexford; Offaly v Sligo; Roscommon v Cavan.
Round 7: April 8: Cavan v Antrim; Longford v Wexford; Tipperary v Offaly; Sligo v Roscommon.
Final: Saturday, April 28