FL previews: Holders head for Ballybofey

24 February 2017

A general view of Sean MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey which is the venue for the Allianz FL Division 1 clash between Donegal and Dublin.
©INPHO/Morgan Treacy.

The Allianz Football League returns to actions this weekend and here we preview all 16 games down for decision.

 

Saturday, February 25th

Allianz FL Division 1 round 3

Mayo v Roscommon, MacHale Park, 7pm - eir Sport

Saturday night is derby night in Castlebar as Kevin McStay’s Roscommon side make the short trip to MacHale Park in search of their first points in Division 1.

The Rossies fell late on in their second round defeat to Donegal last time out, while Mayo bounced back brilliantly from their opening defeat to Monaghan by toppling Kerry in Tralee. Those two results, along with a strong record against this weekend’s opposition, have helped to make Stephen Rochford’s side 1/6 favourites with bookmakers.

‘Footballer of the Year’ Lee Keegan is expected to be back in Rochford’s defence after Westport’s All-Ireland triumph last Sunday, but club mate Kevin Keane has been recently ruled out for the season with a cruciate ligament injury he sustained against St. Colmcille's in the early stages at Croke Park.

McStay has had talented defender turned forward Niall Daly walk off his panel since the Donegal defeat and in what is very much a ‘must win’ game; the underdogs in this one will need all shoulders to the wheel.  

Verdict: Mayo

Allianz FL Division 2 round 3

Down v Meath, Pairc Esler, 7pm - eir Sport

Down have carried their unwanted losing trend from last year into this Division 2 campaign and another defeat on Saturday night could leave them in real danger of back-to-back relegations.

After an opening round loss to Kildare, Meath came to life in the second-half of their 3-15 to 0-9 win over Derry last time out and Andy McEntee will be keen to build on that when his side head for Newry this weekend.

The Royals are 2/5 favourites to take home both points with them and if the likes of Cillian O’Sullivan and midfielder Bryan Menton are still in rich scoring form from the last day, they should have enough to shoot down the Mourne men.

Verdict: Meath

Allianz FL Division 3 round 3

Laois v Tipperary, O'Moore Park, 7pm - eir Sport

One of the promotion favourites from the start of the campaign, Tipperary were stunned by Sligo two weeks ago and face a tricky trip to Portlaoise this weekend to get back on track.

Laois staged a late comeback in their refusal to throw in the towel against Armagh, drawing inspiration from their talisman Donie Kingston, and the Arles/Killeen ace will take some stopping from the Premier men’s defence here.

Verdict: Draw

Allianz FL Division 4 round 3

Carlow v Limerick, Netwatch Cullen Park, 7pm

Carlow got rocked by London at Netwatch Cullen Park two weeks ago and the same venue looks like where Limerick will be picking up their first points in Division 4.

Verdict: Limerick

 

Sunday, February 26th

Allianz FL Division 1 round 3

Donegal v Dublin, Ballybofey, 2pm

Both these teams were made to mount late comebacks in the second round and many will be expecting the Dubs to register an empathic response from their drawn encounter with Tyrone when they arrive in Ballybofey.

Eoin McHugh’s injury-time point at Dr Hyde Park a fortnight ago is what has two points on the board for Donegal after two games, and Rory Gallagher knows that a much improved effort will be required against the visitors on Sunday.

Neil Gallagher, who captained Donegal to a Division 1 title in 2007, has been the latest departure from the Tir Chonaill men’s panel and it’s another big void to try and fill.

Dublin aren’t experiencing those problems at present, as they try and make room for some of their returning St Vincent’s players, and one would feel that they’ll likely have a couple of points to spare come the last whistle at MacCumhaill Park on Sunday.

Verdict: Dublin

Kerry v Monaghan, Fitzgerald Stadium, 2pm

The Farney army heads for Killarney this weekend looking for their second away win of the campaign with Kerry standing in their way.

The Kingdom were beaten on home turf by Mayo two Saturdays ago, while the following day saw Monaghan score just 0-7 against Cavan in Castleblayney and still hold their neighbours to a draw.

Needless to say, both of these teams will be seeking improved displays this time round and to no real surprise it’s the Munster champions that are 2/5 favourites to pick up their second win.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice won’t have Darran O’Sullivan back at his disposal just yet, after suffering a dead leg in Glenbeigh-Glencar’s All-Ireland junior triumph over Rock of Tyrone last weekend, but the Munster champions should still have enough to handle the visitors.

Verdict: Kerry

Tyrone v Cavan, Healy Park, 2.30pm

Omagh is the stage for a repeat of last year’s Division 2 final this Sunday as Tyrone welcome home Mattie McGleenan and his Cavan side in round three.

Both these teams played out low-score draws in their last outings and Cavan, in particular, will have felt that their shooting against Monaghan was what cost them two precious points in Castleblayney.

When the Breffni men hosted Mickey Harte’s side in the McKenna Cup last month they scored what was a rare win over the Red Hands, but Sunday will be a completely different assignment at Healy Park for the 3/1 outsiders.

Two-time All Star Mattie Donnelly has been cleared to play and is named on the bench for the Ulster champions having suffered concussion three weeks ago against Roscommon and they should edge what is likely to be a tough battle against the Blues.

Verdict: Tyrone

Allianz FL Division 2 round 3

Cork v Fermanagh, Pairc Ui Rinn, 1pm

Fermanagh make the long journey south this weekend looking to defy the odds against a Cork side which are seeking their first win of the campaign.

The Rebels had a bad day at the office against high-flying Kildare two weeks ago and the odds show that bookmakers have backed a winning response from them at Pairc Ui Rinn on Sunday.

Having led deservedly at half-time against Galway, Fermanagh fell apart against the Connacht champions in Enniskillen the last day and manager Pete McGrath will not want a repeat of that this weekend. However, with in-form shooters like Colm O’Neill and Luke Connolly in their attack, the Leesiders should be able to pick up their first pair of points here.

Verdict: Cork

Derry v Kildare, Celtic Park, 2pm

There’s a huge contrast in form between these two sides thus far and it sees Kildare as 8/15 favourites for their trip to Celtic Park on Sunday.

After thumping Meath in round one, Cian O’Neill’s men continued their rich February form with a very convincing win over former promotion favourites Cork and are set to travel to the Oak Leaf County this weekend with plenty of confidence.

Derry are sorely in need of a win to get their season on track, especially with Cork and Galway yet to come, but the Lilywhites don’t look like giving up two points on Sunday.

Verdict: Kildare

Galway v Clare, Pearse Stadium, 2pm

These two meet in Salthill looking to inflict a first defeat of the campaign on the other and Galway are 3/10 to do so.

The Connacht champions produced the goods in the second-half of their battle with Fermanagh in Enniskillen and should pick up where they left off when Clare, who are set to be without influential midfielder Gary Brennan, come to visit them.

Goals from Keelan Sexton and ace attacker David Tubridy helped the Banner men to bury Down the last day, but they face a big ask in trying to topple Kevin Walsh’s men on home turf here.

Verdict: Galway

Allianz FL Division 3 round 3

Antrim v Sligo, Corrigan Park, 2pm

Antrim have endured a tough start to life in Division 3 and will be citing Sligo’s visit on Sunday as the time to halt a losing trend.

The Yeats men have come through a tough start against Armagh and Tipperary with flying colours, and the Saffrons’ defence could have trouble in trying to stop Adrian Marren and Kyle Cawley inflicting them with irreversible damage.

Verdict: Sligo

Longford v Armagh, Glennon Bros Pearse Park, 2pm

Longford’s narrow defeat to Louth became embroiled in controversy over time-keeping in the closing stages and Sunday sees them hosting a winless Armagh side to the midlands.

The Orchard men were foiled late on for the second consecutive weekend in their round two loss to Laois and are fancied this time to take home both points from their visit to Glennon Bros Pearse Park.

Verdict: Armagh

Offaly v Louth, O'Connor Park, 2pm

Louth’s prolific league form looks to have carried through from last year after two rounds, sitting solely on top of Division 3 with maximum points.

The 2016 Division 4 champions go to Tullamore on Sunday looking for win number three and their momentum might make the difference in what is sure to be a tricky test against Offaly.

Verdict: Draw

Allianz FL Division 4 round 3

Wicklow v London, Aughrim, 1pm

Two first-half goals helped London spring a shock over Carlow two weeks ago and it’ll be interesting to see if the Exiles can come up with another winning display in Aughrim, where Wicklow will be sorely in need of a win come Sunday.

Verdict: Wicklow

Wexford v Waterford, Innovate Wexford Park, 1pm

Waterford are currently ahead of Wexford at the top of the division on score difference but you can expect the 1/3 Slayneysiders to be clear at the summit come Sunday evening.

Verdict: Wexford

Westmeath v Leitrim, TEG Cusack Park, 2pm

Leitrim ran Wexford very close the last day and the Connacht outfit are again likely to push Westmeath all the way in Mullingar this weekend.

Verdict: Westmeath

Join us for our Live Match Tracker on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon when we will be providing full text commentary on the Allianz Football Leagues.




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