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Poacher & Varley #5: Top 5 defenders & Weekend review

GAA coach Steven Poacher and former Mayo star Enda Varley get stuck into the week’s big Gaelic football talking points

GAA coach Steven Poacher and former Mayo star Enda Varley get stuck into the week’s big Gaelic football talking points


And then there were three!  Derry, Dublin (Division 2) and Cavan (Division 3) are the only counties on full points as the Allianz Football League heads for Round 5 next weekend. Mayo (Division 1) are also unbeaten but dropped two points in draws with Galway and Armagh.

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Limerick (Division 2) and Waterford (Division 4) are the only counties still without a point. Longford and Tipperary have yet to win a game, but took a point each from their drawn tie last weekend. London are yet to win a game in Division 4 but took a point against Wexford in the first round.

Division 1 is the tightest in terms of the gap between top and bottom with only four points separating leaders Mayo and Roscommon (six points) and bottom-placed Tyrone. 

The Round 5 action next weekend is as follows.


Saturday: Armagh v Donegal, Athletic Grounds, 7.30

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Sunday: Galway v Monaghan, Pearse Stadium, 12.45; Tyrone v Kerry, Omagh, 12.45; Roscommon v Mayo, Dr, Hyde Park, 2.45.

Roscommon’s lengthy unbeaten League run (11 games) ended on Sunday when they lost to Monaghan and they now face into a top-of-the-table clash with Mayo, who are also on six points from a possible eight.

Mayo’s good start to the season continued last weekend when beating Tyrone by 4-10 to 0-12. It increased their scoring difference to +17 points, eleven better than Roscommon. They last met Mayo in the League in 2019, losing by point.

Kerry and Galway are both on four points as they prepare to take on Tyrone and Monaghan respectively.

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Tyrone v Kerry League ties have followed a very interesting sequence over the last seven meetings, with each winning in alternate years. Tyrone won in 2016-18-20-22, while Kerry won in 2017-19-21. If the sequence continues, it’s Kerry’s turn to take the points.

Tyrone find themselves bottom of the table after losing three of four games.

Monaghan (four points) last played Galway (also on four points) in the League in a 2021 Division 1 relegation play-off which they won by a point in extra-time. Galway won by a point in their 2020 and 2019 clashes.

Armagh and Donegal are both on three points ahead of their meeting in the Athletic Grounds. Donegal won by a point in last year’s League and had seven points to spare in the Ulster quarter-final. However, Armagh gained revenge in the All-Ireland qualifiers, winning by ten points.

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Saturday: Derry v Dublin, Celtic Park, 5.0

Sunday: Clare v Cork, Ennis, 2.0; Louth v Kildare, Ardee, 2.0; Limerick v Meath, TUS Gaelic Grounds, 2.0

Dublin v Derry always promised to be one of the big highlights in the Division 2 campaign and with both on 100 per cent records after four rounds, Saturday’s clash in Celtic Park will attract big interest way beyond both counties.

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Dublin and Derry meet in the League for the first since 2015 when Dublin won a Division 1 game by four points in Croke Park.  Dublin have won seven, lost five and drawn one of their thirteen League meetings with Derry, their last defeat coming in 2014 when they lost a Division 1 game by six points in Celtic Park. They avenged that defeat six weeks later in the final, winning by fifteen points in Croke Park.

It’s all of eleven years since Kildare (two points) and Louth (four points) last met in the League, with the Lilywhites winning a Division 2 game by four points. Their most recent championship clash came last year when Kildare won a Leinster quarter-final tie by 16 points.

Kildare, who dropped out of Division 1 last year, now find themselves in the relegation zone with Clare and Limerick, having lost three of four games.

Clare (two points) have a very good League record against Cork (four points) in recent times, winning three, losing one and drawing one of the last five clashes. The draw came last year while Clare won in 2017-18-19. Cork won by a point in 2021. 

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Limerick (no points) and Meath (four points) haven’t met in the League since 2004 when they drew a Division1 game in the Gaelic Grounds.


Sunday: Fermanagh v Tipperary, Ederney,1.0; Cavan v Down, Kingspan Breffni, 2.0; Westmeath v Antrim, TEG Cusack Park, 2.0; Longford v Offaly, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park. 2.0

Having won promotion from Division 4 at the end of last season, Cavan have made a clear statement that they intend to continue the upward trend this year.  Four wins from four games leaves them on their own at the top of the table, two points ahead of Fermanagh and Down and four ahead of Westmeath and Offaly.

Cavan and Down last met in the League in 2018 when Cavan won by three points in Division 3. They met in last year’s Tailteann Cup, with Cavan winning by nine points.

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Fermanagh and Tipperary last met in the League in 2019 when they drew a Division 2 clash. Tipperary were promoted alongside Cavan last year but have found things tough in Division 3, picking up only one point from four games, leaving them in the relegation zone with Longford.

Westmeath (four points) beat Antrim (two points) by four points in last year’s League. Offaly (four points) and Longford (one point) drew in their last League meeting in 2020.


Saturday: Laois v Waterford, Laois Hire O’Moore Park, 6.0

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Sunday: London v Carlow, McGovern Park, Ruislip, 1.0;Wicklow v Leitrim, Echelon Park, Aughrim, 1.30; Sligo v Wexford, Markievicz Park, 2.0

Laois had their unbeaten run ended by Wicklow last weekend and now find themselves on six points alongside Connacht pair, Leitrim and Sligo.

Laois will be hoping for a quick return to winning ways at home to Waterford, who have lost their first four games. Laois beat Waterford by four points in their last League meeting four years ago.

Leitrim travel to Aughrim, who are back in the promotion hunt on five points after their win over Laois. Leitrim and Wicklow last met in the League in 2019 when the Connacht men won by four points. 

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London beat Carlow by a point last year. Sligo beat Wexford (five points) by two points last year.

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