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Monday 24 April 2017

Today's Allianz football league previews (2.30 unless stated)

Division 1: Kerry v Cork Tralee (Live TG4)



Kerry v Cork, round whatever it is. Last year's league fixture produced a silly dispute between Paul Galvin and Eoin Cadogan that festered into a more septic wound in the summer. This season will reveal whether or not Galvin, the source of much attention, has sufficient mastery of self-control and discipline to remain a force at this level. He misses today's offering and of course today's offering will miss him too.

Cork and Kerry have named strong selections, with ten of the Rebels who began the All-Ireland reporting for duty. They come to Tralee with their chests out as league and All-Ireland champions. Minus Declan O'Sulivan, the Gooch and Galvin, Kerry may have to give way.

Player to Watch: David Geaney (Kerry).

Odds: 21/20 Kerry; 21/20 Cork; 13/2 Draw.

Verdict: Cork

Monaghan v Galway

Inniskeen, (TG4 deferred)

No Galway preview seems complete without placing Michael Meehan among the injury stricken and this is no exception. With Padraic and Nicky Joyce also missing, the Tribesmen's attacking ensemble won't strike terror into Monaghan hearts. The home side, though, have enough injuries to fill a small hospital: Tommy and Damien Freeman, Eoin Lennon, JP Mone . . . to mention a few.

Galway, having swapped managers almost promiscuously, begin this new chapter under Tomás ó Flaharta with a selection that's conservative and cautious. They can bring home two points and profit from Monaghan's misfortune. But it probably won't be pretty and both counties can expect a bumpy ride in the coming months.

Player to Watch: Kieran Duffy (Monaghan).

Odds: 11/8 Monaghan; 8/11 Galway; 15/2 Draw.

Verdict: Galway

Division 2

Antrim v Kildare

Casement Park

Antrim's rise has seen them win successive promotions, but they face an arduous start in Division 2 against a pool of well prepared players intent on declaring this their year. Kildare won the O'Byrne Cup final last Sunday and have named the same side; expect changes though. John Doyle is set to return and James Kavanagh is almost fit to join him.

Player to Watch: Eamonn Callaghan (Kildare).

Odds: 6/4 Antrim; 4/6 Kildare; 15/2 Draw.

Verdict: Kildare

Derry v Tyrone

Celtic Park

Tyrone haven't won in Celtic Park in almost 30 years and today they are without some experienced hands including the McMahons, Philip Jordan and Brian Dooher. After suffering relegation last year they will be keen to get back up to Division 1.

Derry pack a good league punch, their form in the McKenna Cup has been impressive, and it would not be at all surprising were it to go to the hosts. But Tyrone look that bit more persuasive in battle.

Player to Watch: Conleth Gilligan (Derry).

Odds: 11/10 Derry; Evens Tyrone; 7/1 Draw.

Verdict: Tyrone

Division 3

Offaly v Cavan

Tullamore

Cavan's bleak form in the last few years has kept hopes low and turned the humour suitably black and self-deprecating but there is renewed hope under the well respected Val Andrews. This will reveal a lot about their intentions. Offaly, with players from the Rhode club reinstated, can foil them.

Player to Watch: Niall McNamee (Offaly).

Odds: 8/13 Offaly; 8/5 Cavan; 15/2 Draw.

Verdict: Offaly

Wexford v Waterford

Wexford Park

Waterford's arc has converged with Wexford's, but they appear headed in different directions. Jason Ryan's side is likely to find this labour-intensive and may well struggle this spring in the absence of Matty Forde. Waterford, who defeated Wexford in Division 4 three years ago, represent good value at these odds. They could pinch an away win and make a serious bid for another promotion.

Player to Watch: Thomas O'Gorman (Waterford).

Odds: 1/2 Wexford; 15/8 Waterford; 8/1 Draw.

Verdict: Waterford

Louth v Westmeath

Drogheda

Louth need to win this if they are to avoid stagnation. Three players down through emigration, and with all opposing teams focused on the challenge, they won't find Division 3 a cruise. Westmeath have almost stripped down the 2004 Leinster winning team; only two survivors start today, and they unveil four newcomers. New management, new leaf, but Louth can, or should, prevail.

Player to Watch: Derek Maguire (Louth).

Odds: 8/11 Louth; 11/8 Westmeath; 7/1 Draw.

Verdict: Louth

Tipperary v Limerick

Semple Stadium

Tipperary like Clare, have been granted permission to pursue players with Premier parentage. Limerick are delighted to be able to draw on some of their dual players and they represent a formidable test for any of their Division 3 rivals. Not the easiest of starting matches, but they are good enough.

Player to Watch: John Galvin (Limerick).

Odds: 5/4 Tipperary; 4/5 Limerick; 7/1 Draw.

Verdict: Limerick

Division 4

London v Kilkenny

Ruislip, 1.30

A match that will decide who finishes bottom. Which will be Kilkenny.

Player to Watch: Sean McVeigh (London)

Odds: 1/20 London; 8/1 Kilkenny; 16/1 Draw.

Verdict: London

Leitrim v Clare

Carrick-on-Shannon

Leitrim make four changes from the team that lost to Mayo in the FBD League and three of those are forwards, including two debutantes. Clare showed some promising form in the McGrath Cup and playing Kerry a week ago should stand to them here.

Player to Watch: David Tubridy (Clare).

Odds: 5/4 Leitrim; 4/5 Clare; 7/1 Draw.

Verdict: Clare

Longford v Roscommon

Longford

Brian Kavanagh is a huge loss for Longford; he is currently under house arrest at Kilmacud Crokes ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final engagement. This makes an already hazardous opener more fraught for Glenn Ryan's team. Donie Shine is a loss to the visitors but they have enough fit players to win. Longford, with Fermanagh away in the next round, realise the importance of what's at stake.

Player to Watch: Ger Heneghan (Roscommon).

Odds: Evens Longford; Evens Roscommon; 7/1 Draw.

Verdict: Roscommon

Carlow v Wicklow

Dr Cullen Park

Derby affair with the additional condiment of Thomas Walsh now playing for Carlow against his old adoption agency. Carlow have some injuries and Wicklow tend to start the year rusty. But the visitors still look the better bet.

Player to Watch: Leighton Glynn (Wicklow).

Odds: 13/8 Carlow; 8/13 Wicklow; 7/1 Draw.

Verdict: Wicklow

DERMOT CROWE

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