Sunday 18 February 2018

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

Allianz FL Division 1

Mayo v Kerry

McHale Park, 2.45, TG4 Deferred

Eoin Brosnan abandons retirement for the lure of the Kerry jersey, hoping to discover that he has sufficient range to handle a centre-back's brief. He is one of five Kerry changes to the side defeated by Cork, with Colm Cooper also returning to face a Mayo side that has rejigged its middle defensive line. Mayo made a powerful spring surge last year until the League final collapse that proved the more reliable diagnosis of their fitness for a long summer. They need work all over the field but against Kerry much will depend on how their defence holds up and covers the basics. Verdict: Kerry

Down v Galway

Páirc Esler

Galway football looks to be unravelling with impressive haste with the departure of Niall Coleman and Kieran Fitzgerald from the panel and a rather soulless start to their campaign. The dismal defeat to an auditioning Monaghan immediately placed them on relegation row. Down went to Castlebar and took home a point; they can improve on that with home advantage where the sod, hopefully, will be more to the delectation of Marty Clarke (pictured).

Verdict: Down

Armagh v Monaghan

Athletic Grounds, 2.45

Monaghan duped all and sundry, even themselves perhaps, with an emphatic and free-flowing opening round win. How much of that is reflective of the paucity of the opposition remains to be seen. Armagh pushed Dublin until Bernard Brogan's opportunistic intervention and while they are a work in progress they will fancy their chances of getting off the mark here. Not by much though; they are too fitful and unconvincing to expect much from this season. Verdict: Armagh

Division 2

Laois v Antrim

Portlaoise, 1.0

Divergent fortunes for these counties in the opening round, with Antrim falling heavily to Kildare and Laois overcoming Meath. That fine start to Justin McNulty's managerial career should be embellished with a second win today. Word of warning: an expectant Laois team is a danger unto itself.

Verdict: Laois

Meath v Sligo

Páirc Tailteann, 2.45

Sligo have made the more promising start and are a handful for any side following a marked line of improvement in the last few years. They go to Meath to face a team anxious to avoid a second successive defeat. Meath will be keen to prove a point at home and sharpen their shooting, a flaw two weeks ago.

Verdict: Meath

Kildare v Derry

Newbridge, 2.45

Derry had an uplifting start against Tyrone while Kildare travelled to Casement Park and did a good professional job. They have developed a winning mien and even with Derry's spring form being what it is, the Lilywhites can maintain their healthy streak.

Verdict: Kildare

Division 3

Louth v Tipperary


Tipperary upset Division favourites Limerick two weeks ago and are good enough to win a match like this. But Louth's form has been steady. A win here, though not a given, will give their promotion hopes serious momentum. Verdict: Louth

Offaly v Wexford

O'Connor Park, 2.45

Wexford blew Waterford away and perhaps their decline isn't quite as pronounced as we thought. Offaly have had a lively start too and at home might increase their tally.

Verdict: Offaly

Waterford v Limerick


This has already taken on enormous significance as both had demoralising first-round defeats. Any more mishaps will see them ruled out of promotion contention. Limerick can chisel out a win but it is by no means a banker.

Verdict: Limerick

Westmeath v Cavan

Cusack Park

Another pair in early bother. In both cases the best of planning and preparation may simply be undone by a lack of sufficient playing resources. Westmeath have lost 15 league games in a row. It has to end sometime.

Verdict: Westmeath

Division 4

Kilkenny v Leitrim


Leitrim can restore their spirits after 13 men ended up battling in vain against Wicklow last time out. They can afford to finish with 13 today.

Verdict: Leitirm

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