Tuesday 12 December 2017

Today's Allianz Football League Previews

(2.0 unless stated)

Damian Dawlor

Division 1

Tyrone v Donegal, Healy Park

This should be an intense, free-flowing game; a nice gauge for both Mickey Harte and Jim McGuinness as they press on with their plans for 2013.

Donegal's Paddy McGrath is available for selection for the first time after recovering from a quad problem. Neil Gallagher (groin), attacking ace Colm McFadden (hamstring) and Frank McGlynn (hamstring) have also shaken off injuries. David Walsh is back in contention but All Star full-back Neil McGee (back) is a doubt.

Harte's new-look team gets another chance to push on and stake their claim for championship places. We don't expect either team to hold back and while you could describe today's affair as shadow boxing, we actually think it will be top fare.

Tyrone possibly have more in the tank at this stage and are better oiled going forward right now.

Verdict: Tyrone

Kildare v Kerry, Newbridge

Kerry need the two points – it's as simple as that.

And yet we can't see where the form is going to come out of, especially with a partisan home crowd roaring on Kildare. They could do with a league title more than most other counties and a win here would leave them well poised for the play-offs.

Niall Kelly and Paddy Brophy have added youthful impetus and Mikey Conway is on the ball more frequently this season. They could do with using Hugh McGrillen a lot more, as the right corner-back often roars into excellent positions.

This will be a feisty affair, especially as a number of figurehead Kerry players are back in the ranks. Paul Galvin and the Dr Crokes contingent of Eoin Brosnan, Johnny Buckley, Brian Looney and Michael Moloney are all available.

Verdict: Kildare

Down v Cork, Newry

Both teams are looking for their first points and though they're away from home we think Cork will just about get there.

Graham Canty was their best player against Kildare, looking razor-sharp for the entire 70 minutes, but they were very poor going forward, with many balls going astray.

Down are in their third season in the top flight but some people feel they still have to prove they are a top-eight side.

They have been fairly hard to beat at home over the last number of years, but without key players such as Dan Gordon, Danny Hughes and Ambrose Rogers they could struggle today.

Conor Garvey and Declan Rooney are rated doubtful for this game, but Benny Coulter will return after missing the Donegal defeat with a groin injury. We think Cork will travel home with the points in the bag.

Verdict: Cork

Division 2

Wexford v Derry, Wexford Park

Wexford were on their way to a win over Armagh but lost a commanding lead and had to settle for a draw. They'll be keen to make up for that disappointment at home.

Aidan O'Brien looks to have done a good job here, maintaining momentum after Jason Ryan's departure.

But they'll have a tough job today – Derry have one win from two games and during the week their forward Emmett McGuckin spoke of having the enjoyment factor back in their game.

PJ McCloskey and Patsy Bradley will be a huge threat to Wexford, but maybe Derry are one team that the lengthy break won't have have helped. We'll find out later.

Verdict: Wexford

Galway v Westmeath, Salthill

Westmeath are bang in shape, while Alan Mulholland has had to make five changes to his team for this game following a bad loss last time out to Louth.

John Egan, Gary O'Donnell, Anthony Griffin, John O'Brien and Mark Hehir all come in this afternoon as Galway experience the difficulties in making a transition from underage to senior success.

Doran Harte returns to the Westmeath defence following his suspension but Dessie Dolan is out injured and that could be the game-changer. Pat Flanagan's men go into the match undefeated so far and if they want to make it three wins out of three they'll need the likes of Denis Glennon and Ciarán Curley to fire them home in Dolan's absence.

Verdict: Westmeath

Division 3

Roscommon v Wicklow, Dr Hyde Park

It's been a pretty dismal league for Wicklow who have a scoring difference of -18 after just two games.

Still, with talisman Leighton Glynn missing through injury, they were always going to struggle. The good news is that Kiltegan forward Seánie Furlong returns to the set-up. So too does his club colleague Jacko Dalton.

Roscommon have one win from two and at home, though, especially after beating Sligo, they should prevail here.

Verdict: Roscommon

Monaghan v Sligo, Clones

Two very hard teams to read. If Monaghan lose, their promotion hopes could well slip away so it's important they come back strong from a reverse last time out.

If Paul Finlay and Tommy Freeman can play parts this afternoon, their hopes of a win will be much strengthened as the rest of the attack is nowhere near as prolific as this duo.

Sligo beat Antrim last time so should be nicely set, but back-to-back results have not been easy to achieve lately. We go for the home team. Just.

Verdict: Monaghan

Division 4

Offaly v Clare, Tullamore

WHILE Offaly manager Emmet McDonnell is without star attacker Anton Sullivan, who dislocated his shoulder while playing in a Defence Forces game last week, he still has Niall McNamee, and other forwards such as Paul McPadden and DIT Sigerson Cup winner Bernard Allen to spearhead their challenge.

Clare took advantage of eight minutes of injury time to win in Carrick-on-Shannon so spirits are high. A win today would be a huge result.

Verdict: Offaly

Carlow v Leitrim, Dr Cullen Park

What an impressive start by Carlow to the season and more impressively still they have done it without their chief marksman Daniel St Ledger. He's back in the fold for them today and his placed-ball ability should edge this game against an inconsistent Leitrim side.

Verdict: Carlow

Tipperary v London, Thurles 1.0

London are given no hope by the bookies but the Exiles pushed Carlow to a point a couple of weeks ago. This will be no rout. Still, we expect the home side to kick-start their league campaign in earnest with a victory. Verdict: Tipperary

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport