Shane Stapleton and Michael Verney preview another big weekend of GAA action.
TOP TWO CLASH IN EAGERLY-ANTICIPATED DIVISION 1 CLASH
It’s Round 3 weekend in the Allianz Football League when twelve counties will be attempting to maintain unbeaten runs while eight others will be striving to pick up their first points.
DIVISION 1: ROSSIES ON A ROLL – CAN ARMAGH END THEIR RUN?
Saturday: Mayo v Kerry, Castlebar, 7.30; Sunday (1.45): Galway v Tyrone, Tuam Stadium; Monaghan v Donegal, Clones; Roscommon v Armagh, Dr.Hyde Park.
Unbeaten in the Allianz League since 2021, Roscommon will be bidding to take their run to 11 games when they play Armagh on Sunday. They have beaten Galway (three times), Cork, Meath, Down, Offaly, Tyrone and drawn with Clare and Derry in a 10-game run which saw them win the Division 2 title last year and lead Division 1 after two rounds this year.
Their last League defeat was against Sunday’s opponents. Armagh won a Division 1 relegation play-off by nine points in 2021. They have made a good start to this League, beating Monaghan and drawing with Mayo, leaving them in second place.
Kerry and Mayo (two points each) met three times last year, with the Kingdom winning all three. They won the group League game by a point and the final by 16 points before continuing their dominance with an eight-point win the All-Ireland quarter-final.
Tyrone have bad memories of their last visit to Tuam in 2020 when they lost a League clash to Galway by 19 points. The Ulster men lost to Donegal in the first round this year but got their League ambitions back on track with a win over Donegal in the last round while Galway drew with Mayo and lost to Roscommon in the opening two rounds. It leaves them in the relegation zone and seeking their first win in five League outings, having lost their last two to Roscommon (Round 7 Division 2 and the final) in 2022.
Monaghan haven’t won any of their first two games for three consecutive seasons and now find themselves bottom of the table ahead of the home clash with Donegal, who they beat by five points in last year’s League.
DIVISION 2: DERRY v MONAGHAN CRUCIAL IN PROMOTION RACE
Saturday: Derry v Meath, Owenbeg, 5.0; Sunday: Clare v Kildare, Ennis, 2.0; Louth v Limerick, Ardee. 2.0 Cork v Dublin, Pairc Ui Chaiomh, 3.45.
It may appear early to talk in terms of promotion but having won their first two games, Derry and Meath have their sights firmly set on the big prize. The winners of their clash in Owenbeg on Saturday will take a giant step towards achieving it.
Meath scored seven goals in their first two games while Derry have conceded only one, making Saturday’s attack/defence clash very interesting. Derry beat Meath by two points in last year’s League.
Dublin, who are also on full points after two rounds, meet Cork in the League for the first time since 2016 when they clashed in Division 1. Dublin won by four points. They beat Cork by 11 points in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final.
This will be the 47th League meeting between the counties, with Cork leading 22-19 while there have been five draws from their previous 46 games.
Clare (one win, one defeat) take on Kildare, who lost their opening two games to Dublin and Cork. Clare beat Kildare in the 2021 (three points) and 2020 (one point) Leagues.
Louth and Limerick met twice in Division 3 last year with Mickey Harte’s side winning both games (group game and final). Louth lost to Clare and Derry in their first two games this year while Limerick lost to Derry and Dublin.
DIVISION 3: OFFALY, CAVAN AND DOWN MAKE BEST EARLY HEADWAY
Saturday: Tipperary v Antrim, Stadium, 6.0; Sunday: Fermanagh v Down, Ederney, 1.0; Cavan v Longford, Kingspan Breffni, 2.0; Westmeath v Offaly, Cusack Park, 2.0.
Offaly considered themselves very unlucky to be relegated from Division 2 last year and have made an impressive start to their bid for a quick return, beating Antrim and Fermanagh.
They now face a tricky ‘away’ assignment against Westmeath, who beat them by nine points in last year’s Tailteann Cup semi-final.
Cavan, promoted from Division 4 last year, are priming for a shot at another promotion, winning their first two games against Westmeath and Tipperary by a combined total of 15 points. They beat Sunday’s opposition (Longford) by six points in the 2021 League.
Down – full points after two games – meet Fermanagh in the League for the first time in six year while Tipperary and Antrim also meet for the first time since 2017.
Antrim, Tipperary and Longford are all seeking their first League points.
DIVISION 4: LEITRIM AND LAOIS SETTING EARLY PACE
Saturday: Wicklow v London, Aughrim, 1.0; Sunday: Sligo v Waterford, Markievicz Park, 1.0; Carlow v Laois, Netwatch Cullen Park, 2.0; Wexford v Leitrim, Wexford Park, 2.0.
Leitrim and Laois are the only teams on full points, with Carlow a point behind them on three. Leitrim take on Wexford, who they beat by four points last year.
Laois and Carlow meet in the League for the first time in four years. Laois won by three points in a Division 3 clash that year. Wicklow meet London for the first time since 2020 when they won by eight points.
Sligo beat Waterford by a point last year; the Deise won by two points in the 2020 meeting.
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