Tuesday 17 October 2017

Allianz NFL under the microscope: Division 3

Brian Brehany

Division 3

WEXFORD

Manager: Aidan O'Brien (2nd season)

2013 NFL: 7th Div 2 – relegated (P7, W,2, D1 L4)

2014: Home 3 (Offaly, Cavan, Sligo); Away (Roscommon, Limerick, Fermanagh, Longford)

1st game: Next Sunday v Offaly

Odds: Title 9/2; Relegation 5/1

Unlucky to be relegated last year, they look certain to be among the promotion contenders, even if they face four away games. The balance of fixtures between home and away can often prove decisive in deciding placings.

LONGFORD

Manager: Jack Sheedy (1st season)

2013 NFL: 8th Div 2 – relegated (P7, L7)

2014: Home 3 (Roscommon, Fermanagh, Cavan); Away 4 (Limerick, Offaly, Sligo, Wexford)

1st game: Next Sunday v Roscommon, Pearse Park

Odds: Title 14/1; Relegation 1/1

They played a whole better than their pointless run in Division 2 suggested but once a losing habit develops, it can be difficult to curtail. They won only one of 10 league/championship games last year, but their best performances came in the last two games when they beat Limerick and took Wexford to extra-time in the qualifiers.

FERMANGH

Manager: Peter McGrath (1st season)

2013 NFL: 3rd Div 3 (P7, W4, D1, L2)

2014: Home 4(Sligo, Roscommon, Wexford, Offaly); Away 3 (Cavan, Longford, Limerick,

1st game: Next Saturday v Cavan, Kingspan Breffni Park

Odds: Title 11/1; Relegation 6/4

One Peter replaces another at the helm as Peter McGrath takes over from Peter Canavan. Fermanagh were edged into third place on last year's Division 3 table – a repeat is probably the best they can hope for.

ROSCOMMON

Manager: John Evans (2nd season)

2013 NFL: 4th Div 3 (P7, W4, D1, L2)

2014: Home 4 (Wexford, Limerick, Offaly, Sligo); Away 3 (Longford, Fermanagh, Cavan)

1st game: Next Sunday v Longford, Pearse Park

Odds: Title 11/4; Relegation 13/2

Second favourites behind Cavan for promotion but if Roscommon are to live up to that, they will have to discard the inconsistent streak which has bedevilled them for a long time.

CAVAN

Manager: Terry Hyland (3rd season)

2013 NFL: 5th Div 3 (P7, W3, D1, L3)

2014: Home 3 (Fermanagh, Sligo, Roscommon); Away 4 (Offaly, Wexford, Longford, Limerick)

1st game: Next Saturday v Fermanagh, Kingspan Breffni Park

Odds: Title 7/4; Relegation 10/1

Cavan are favourites to win the group after reaching last year's All-Ireland quarter-finals, although 7/4 looks poor value in a seven-match slog where they will be away from home for four games.

SLIGO

Manager: Pat Flanagan (1st season)

2013 NFL: 6th Div 3 (P7, W2, D1, L4)

2014: Home 3 (Limerick, Offaly, Roscommon); Away 4(Fermanagh, Cavan, Longford, Limerick)

1st game: Next Sunday v Limerick, Markievicz Park

Odds: Title 8/1; Relegation 9/4

Sligo have lost the swagger of a few seasons back. They won only two of nine league and championship games last season so it's a worrying time in Yeats country.

LIMERICK

Manager: John Brudair (1st season)

2013 NFL: Winners Div 4 – promoted (P8, W7, L1)

2014: Home 4 (Longford, Wexford, Fermanagh, Cavan); Away 3 (Sligo, Roscommon, Offaly)

1st game: Next Sunday v Sligo, Markievicz Park

Odds: Title 10/1; Relegation 15/8

Promoted after winning Division 4 last April, Limerick are well capable of making a real impression at a higher level, provided they harness full power.

OFFALY

Manager: Emmet McDonnell (2nd season)

2013 NFL: Runners-up Div 4 – promoted (P8, W5, L3)

2014: Home 3 (Cavan, Longford, Limerick); Away 4 (Wexford, Sligo, Roscommon, Fermanagh)

1st game: Next Sunday v Wexford, Wexford Park

Odds: Title 16/1; Relegation 8/11

Stepping up in class after being promoted last April, Offaly are favourites to drop down again. It's an overly negative assessment.

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