Wednesday 18 October 2017

TODAY'S ALLIANZ LEAGUE GAMES (2.30 unless stated)

FOOTBALL

DIVISION ONE

FROM Ipswich Town's Portman Road to Mayo's Castlebar, it's a road that not many sportspeople have travelled but it's a route that Shane Supple will negotiate today when the former Irish U21 soccer international takes his place in the Dublin squad.

Supple waved goodbye to Roy Keane and a professional soccer career to come home late last year and following his recovery from a leg injury he has been drafted into Pat Gilroy's squad as a reserve for Stephen Cluxton. It's possible the Dubs now boast two of best 'keepers in the country -- what a pity for the manager that both can't be accommodated.

Both teams sit at the top of the division but Dublin don't have the greatest of records in Mayo. More good news for John O'Mahony is that Conor Mortimer and Alan Dillon are back from their travels and are working hard on their fitness.

Dublin, who have three key players back for this one, have ground out excellent wins over Kerry and Derry recently, but their run of wins could end.

Elsewhere Kerry, who hope that no more big names will depart their ranks, host Derry and they'll be eager to kick-start a season that has been disjointed and disappointing thus far, even if the year is in its very early stages.

Big names like Colm Cooper, Tom O'Sullivan, Darran O'Sullivan and team captain Bryan Sheehan are all back in training and the revival should start here.

Monaghan welcome Tyrone to the compact confines of Inniskeen in a game that both teams need to win. Tyrone are less than enthused about having to play there but there could be some solace in the fact that Sean Cavanagh will be around. Still, we fancy Monaghan today.

Today in Division 1: Mayo v Dublin, Castlebar; Kerry v Derry, Tralee; Monaghan v Tyrone, Inniskeen.

DIVISION TWO

Donegal, with two wins from two, have very little to lose and will be delighted to see Colm McFadden and AFL target Michael Murphy in such great recent form.

For the home side, Johnny Doyle is fit again after missing the last outing against Tipperary, while Gary White, Kevin O'Neill and Killian Brennan all return to full fitness. Alan Smith is back in training but won't feature today. It's a big game for Kildare and the large and vocal home support should see them through.

Today in Division 2: Kildare v Donegal, Newbridge.

DIVISION THREE

Still no Matty Forde for Wexford and how they could do with him in what should be a tight exchange with Sligo, a game Jason Ryan will have targeted.

In Tullamore, Offaly play Roscommon who lost a great servant through retirement in Gary Cox last week. Cox was a serious player, a former international rules star and a dependable stalwart. His loss will be felt. As for this game, Offaly should make it two wins out of three.

Cavan are without Nicholas Walsh for three months through injury and so today marks a great opportunity for hosts Louth to nab another win. A lethal looking full-forward line of Colm Judge, Aaron Hoey and JP Rooney could just swing it for them.

Today in Division 3: Wexford v Sligo, Wexford Pk 1.0; Offaly v Roscommon, Tullamore; Louth v Cavan, Drogheda.

DIVISION FOUR

CLASH of the day takes place at Fraher Field where Waterford play Longford and a win for the home side would set them up for another crack at promotion.

With five points from three games, compared to Longford's zero from two, Johnny Owens' men have a right chance to take the spoils. Target-man Robert Aherne looks to have given them a new option on the edge of the square.

Noel Dunning's London will account for Kilkenny and Wicklow are a good bet to beat improving Carlow today.

Meanwhile, struggling Leitrim, who have lost Colin Regan and the unfortunate Emlyn Mulligan once more through injury, must travel to Clare.

The home side might be distracted with the fuss surrounding Kilmurry-Ibrickane's appearance in the All-Ireland final but we think it will only spur them on. The Banner to emerge victorious this afternoon.

Today in Division 4: Waterford v Longford, Fraher Field; Kilkenny v London, Nowlan Pk 1.0; Wicklow v Carlow, Aughrim; Clare v Leitrim, Cusack Pk

HURLING

DIVISION ONE

Check the skies, but it's surely now safe to say that today's Tipperary v Kilkenny clash finally goes ahead. No charge will be sought on the gate following the two previous postponements.

Looking at Tipp last Sunday, it was just as well they didn't meet Kilkenny on either day. But they're sure to be chastened by that loss to Dublin and they know this is up there as one of the most important games of the year for them.

It probably won't be anything near the level of last year's league final but it should be a cracker. Another flop from Tipp and some of their number will find it hard to hold their places, but we think they'll do it today.

Today in Div 1: Tipperary v Kilkenny, Thurles.

DIVISION FOUR

Home advantage is the only factor that could separate Monaghan from Fermanagh, so we take Monaghan by a point or two.

Today in Division 4: Monaghan v Fermanagh, Corduff 12.45.

Damian Lawlor

Sunday Independent

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