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Today's Allianz League previews (2.30 unless stated)

FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 1

Cork v Kerry

Páirc Uí Chaoimh 2.45

Only a point separates these neighbours, so we can expect a tight encounter, and some good attacking football, especially after both teams had easy wins last weekend.

By all accounts, the Kerry training sessions are intense for this time of year and their work-rate and fluid passing was a joy to behold against Donegal. Marc ó Sé will move to full-back while Tomás ó Sé is also back in the fold. Brian McGuire and Peter Crowley have impressed in recent weeks.

With Eoin Cadogan available and Paudie Kissane shaking off a knock, the Rebels will be at full strength and it's great to see Colm O'Neill back. Aidan Walsh looks comfortable at full-forward and it's an interesting ploy from Conor Counihan. Cork don't lose at home that often, whereas Kerry know that even if they lose, a win against Laois next week will secure a semi-final place.

Verdict: Cork

Down v Dublin

Páirc Esler

DOWN will find it very hard to cope with an in-form Dublin full-forward line.

The home side shocked 14-man Mayo last weekend to ease their relegation fears and depended on the radar of Aidan Carr (0-5) to help them get through. Still, they only managed 1-13 in total and Dublin are likely to score significantly more than that, particularly with Michael Darragh Macauley foraging through the middle. Diarmuid Connolly, Mossy Quinn and Eoghan O'Gara look to be pretty formidable at the moment. Dean Rock has also been drafted into the squad. Overall, they should have much more artillery.

Verdict: Dublin

Laois v Armagh

Portlaoise

A win would pull Armagh away from the relegation zone, but can Laois possibly play as badly as they did against Cork? There's surely a sting in the tail after their limp display last weekend.

Throw in the fact that Armagh will be well rattled after leaking 4-17 to the Dubs. Take Brian Mallon out of the equation and they had little to offer in front of posts against Gilroy's men and while they won't fear Laois in the slightest, they might find it hard to respond so quickly to such a sickening loss, especially away from home.

Verdict: Laois

Donegal v Mayo

Ballyshannon

Mayo's bid for league honours came unstuck last weekend and they'll need a win to get back on track. But they come up against a side that conceded 2-16 to Kerry last weekend and it's reasonable to suggest that there will be a kick from the home side in Ballyshannon.

At the start of the season, pundits started to hone in on Mayo as league and championship hopefuls but they face a tough few weeks which will tell us a lot more about their credentials this season. Aidan O'Shea is out and after only managing 0-11 last weekend, they'll now face a determined Donegal defence.

Verdict: Donegal

Division 2

Westmeath v Monaghan

Cusack Park

Tyrone completely outclassed Westmeath but they'll have a little more hope against Monaghan. Denis and David Glennon were most impressive against the northerners but physically they were way behind. And that's going to be their main concern again today.

Despite concerns that the DRA saga might affect them, Monaghan had a terrific win over Louth last weekend and should repeat that display against Pat Flanagan's men. Chris McGuinness has a lot to offer in the forward ranks and looks bang in form after a last-minute call-up for Louth. They clocked up 2-24 last Sunday but the floodgates opened after the Wee County went down to 14 men.

Verdict: Monaghan

Meath v Derry

Páirc Tailteann

This game could go either way -- Meath came close twice in the past two weeks to clinching wins and could be either totally deflated or all out to put things right. A win would push them closer to maintaining their second-tier status but, worryingly, they had more than enough possession to beat an inexperienced Galway side and still floundered. Nicky Joyce hit some good points last weekend but they'll need to hit more than 1-11 to beat Derry who haven't even got going yet and last week said goodbye to Enda Muldoon after a 15-year career. Two weeks on the road in a row could be a lot for Derry.

Verdict: Meath

Louth v Kildare

Drogheda

After a late burst against Derry, Kildare will be eyeing up that second place spot behind Tyrone and could well get there. They certainly should have way too much for Louth. Kildare hit two goals last weekend and Eoghan O'Flaherty and Johnny Doyle kept the scoreboard ticking over. Meanwhile, Dermot Earley's return will lift everyone.

Louth are being let down by their defence but their forwards are still firing. Verdict: Kildare

Galway v Tyrone

Tuam Stadium

The visitors look to have the bit between their teeth at the moment and though we can't predict what type of Galway performance we'll get, the strong betting would be for Mickey Harte's side which is benefiting from a serious injection of youth since the end of last year's championship. Galway were in the zone last weekend and enjoyed their tight win over Meath but Tyrone only need three points to get back to the top-flight and can earn two here. Verdict: Tyrone

Division 3

Cavan v Offaly

Kingspan Breffni Park

Cavan are an up-and-down team but it's a good sign that they've announced the same starting 15 two weeks in a row. Martin Dunne is the man of the moment after his 2-4 against Tipp but there are some emerging players in Val Andrews' ranks. Offaly will fancy a crack at the Ulster side. Still, you'd imagine the Breffni County will pull through. Verdict: Cavan

Longford v Antrim

Glennon Brothers Pearse Park

Antrim at 2/1 may be some people's idea of bet of the week. They are a decent side and have registered three fine wins thus far. Claim another scalp and here they could be on the verge of a return to Division Two despite falling to Roscommon last week. However, Longford are also on a serious roll and we think they'll have more firepower.

Verdict: Longford

Wexford v Roscommon

Wexford Park, 12.45

Even though their defence is pretty generous, it's unlikely that Wexford will be beaten at home, especially with the scores they are registering. They nabbed 1-21 against Offaly last time out but won't be happy at the two goals they coughed up. This is a step up for Roscommon. Verdict: Wexford

Sligo v Tipperary

Markievicz Park

After some definite highlights in the past few years, there's no doubt that Tipp are in freefall and unless they can win here, they look odds-on for the drop. That would be a massive shame considering the excellent work John Evans has put in. They've made six changes from last weekend but we can only see a home win as Sligo badly need the points themselves and might just have more confidence than their rivals.

Verdict: Sligo

Division 4

Waterford v Fermanagh

Fraher Field, 1.0

Fermanagh are one of only three undefeated counties in the NFL and you'd back them to continue their march here, but the Waterford boys will make it very tough for them. In fact, this could be the toughest game of their league campaign. But the Ulstermen have managed 11-60 in just four games. Verdict: Fermanagh

Clare v Leitrim

Cusack Park

We've backed Clare in the last two games and we've no reason to doubt them now, although Leitrim have done well to date. Verdict: Clare

Wicklow v Limerick

Aughrim

We handed Wicklow way too much respect in tipping them to beat Waterford and got that badly wrong. Limerick badly need the brace of points and should dig out a win. Verdict: Limerick

Kilkenny v Carlow

Freshford

Carlow will add another two points here but it's turning out to be yet another average campaign for them.

Verdict: Carlow

HURLING LEAGUE Division 1A

Cork v Galway

Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 12.45

Ben O'Connor's retirement sunders another link to the team that recaptured the All-Ireland 12 years ago and is something of a surprise given that he had been starting. But Cork's transition, while not yet at full throttle, is starting to claim victims. Conor Lehane continues to enchant and if Cathal Naughton could straighten his shooting, they have serious speed-injection off both wings. For all that, Cork were lucky to survive Croke Park. Galway are on the same learning curve and showing an impressive mettle with Joe Canning still to return. Only five of the team trounced by Tipp in 2011 started last weekend. They can pinch a win. Verdict: Galway

Kilkenny v Dublin

Nowlan Park

Dublin have a decent track record in the league against Kilkenny since drawing in 2007 and their failure to win against Cork creates a healthy pressure to hunt aggressively for points as well as performance. But this is tempered by the realism of who they face and the Kilkenny blood-lust when pitted against an aspiring provincial rival.

If there is a marginal softening of Kilkenny's focus then Dublin might have a chance. But they need to outgoal Kilkenny and with their injuries, and the rarity of Kilkenny's off-days, the case doesn't stack up. Verdict: Kilkenny

Tipperary v Waterford

Semple Stadium

Tipp's win over a Galway side backboned by last year's under 21s wasn't the emphatic signal of intent they'd have liked but it gave them the win they desired. This looks a good chance to consolidate and head into the Dublin game in a far breezier frame of mind. Waterford toughed it out with Kilkenny for a while before surrendering to the weight of the onslaught in the second half. The endgame with Dublin is their likely spring definer. Verdict: Tipperary

Division 1B

Laois v Clare

Portlaoise, 12.45

Clare, fit and well-drilled, remain the team in the driving seat and shouldn't vacate it, barring a show of complacency. Laois overturned them last year but this year's Clare are more finely tuned. Laois couldn't compete with Limerick and there was plenty of daylight between them and Offaly too. Being competitive is their goal Verdict: Clare

Offaly v Antrim

O'Connor Park

both these counties come into this meeting off the back of defeats. Offaly's was the hardest to deal with. Conceding 3-1 late on to Wexford is a collapse which they will be keen to redress a task which they should prove up to.

Verdict: Offaly

Wexford v Limerick

Wexford Park

Wexford's Houdini escape act last weekend can't camouflage the poverty of the display for most of the match. Limerick, now that they have found their feet, should have too much power and conditioning. Verdict: Limerick

Division 2A

Down v Derry, Páirc Esler, 12.45: Neither is likely to be loitering around the upper end of the table come end of season. Down, at a push. Verdict: Down

Wicklow v Kerry, Aughrim: Wicklow ground out a draw last weekend and face a Kerry team with internal strife. That can translate one of two ways.

Verdict: Kerry

Carlow v Westmeath, Dr Cullen Park:

Carlow stand a good chance of beating Laois in this year's championship. They can take top place unaccompanied

Verdict: Carlow

Division 2B

Armagh v Mayo, Crossmaglen: Fine win for Armagh last weekend. They might claim another here. Verdict: Armagh

Roscommon v Kildare, Athleague: Kildare to floor Roscommon's promotion hopes. Verdict: Kildare

Division 3A

Monaghan v Louth, Inniskeen: The stony grey toilers are going well and can keep it going. Verdict: Monaghan

Fingal v Tyrone, Swords: Win or bust for Fingal. Tyrone are unbeaten and can hold it that way. Verdict: Tyrone

Donegal v Sligo, Letterkenny: Donegal to win this tussle in the north west.

Verdict: Donegal

Division 3B

Longford v Leitrim, Michael Fay Park: Longford are in a better place. They should win. Verdict: Longford

Sunday Indo Sport


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