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ALLIANZ LEAGUE PREVIEWS Football: Damian LawlorALLIANZ LEAGUE PREVIEWS Hurling: Dermot Crowe

(2.30 unless stated)

Allianz FL Division 1

Kerry v Laois

Fitzgerald Stadium

Despite beating Armagh last Sunday, it hasn't been a good week for Laois with the off-field controversy surrounding them. Unless they can pull off the display of the season, they could be sucked further into the relegation mire at Killarney.

Kerry's half-forward line of Paul Galvin, Darran O'Sullivan and Declan O'Sullivan was outstanding against Cork, with the latter shooting 0-5 in a man of the match display.

A huge plus for Laois, though, was the impact Paul Cahillane made coming off the bench and scoring 1-1. It should be an open game of football and anything other than a home win would be a massive surprise.

Verdict: Kerry

Mayo v Cork

MacHale Park, 2.0

Cork went AWOL in the first half of last weekend's derby with Kerry, but they showed enough in the second half to suggest they still want to be in contention for league honours. A win this afternoon would at least put them back in the frame. They'll need a lot more from their attack, though, as last time out they leaned too heavily on Donncha O'Connor and Aidan Walsh.

After a great start to the season Mayo have their own worries. Donegal outscored the Connacht champions by 0-11 to 0-2 in the second half last Sunday and one of those points was a free from goalkeeper Robbie Hennelly.

Verdict: Cork

Division 2

Derry v Louth

Celtic Park

Derry eased their relegation worries in Navan last week. Conleith Gilligan hit two fine points, as did Blaine Gormley and Enda Lynn, while Paddy Bradley returned to form with 0-4. With their forwards in form, Derry look to have turned their campaign around and though they are not safe from relegation, they have strengthened their grip on survival with the return of Paddy and Patsy Bradley as well as Michael Friel.

They'll approach this game with confidence. The same cannot be said for Louth who were hopeful of escaping relegation earlier in the season but now, for the first time in the campaign, they find themselves bottom.

Verdict: Derry

Monaghan v Galway

Glennon Brothers Pearse Park

This neutral-venue clash will hardly have them packed to the rafters and could be a dour enough affair as well. Monaghan should be extremely motivated following their ongoing confrontation with the GAA.

But they are inconsistent and surprisingly lost to Westmeath last week; a defeat that effectively ended their promotion hopes and left them worrying about relegation instead.

Nicky Joyce will be vital for an unsettled Galway side this afternoon but we expect the Monaghan defence to focus firmly on him. Alan Mulholland's side should ultimately survive relegation but it's possible Monaghan will have the edge today.

Verdict: Monaghan

Kildare v Westmeath

Newbridge

Westmeath are gaining confidence from every game and it's great to see a manager like Pat Flanagan turning things around when he is still without the Garrycastle contingent. Fresh from recording a fine win over Monaghan, that result has kept their hopes of staying in Division 2 alive. The Lilywhites still have one eye on promotion and have bounced back to life following a very poor opener against Tyrone. Eight Kildare players scored against Louth and they look to have a greater balance to their side.

Verdict: Kildare

Division 3

Offaly v Sligo

O'Connor Park

Offaly have had a rollercoaster week; they unexpectedly beat Cavan but the under 21 loss to Louth on Wednesday night was a massive disappointment.

A win would almost ensure safety for Kevin Walsh's men and he'll be heartened that his full-forward line of Colm McGee, Adrian Marren and Stephen Coen had a field day against Tipp, scoring 1-10 between them.

It took a Ken Casey penalty to get Offaly back off the ropes against Cavan and they showed great heart playing the final 30 minutes with 14 men. It would be great to see them maintain that level, but it will be a hard task.

Verdict: Sligo

Roscommon v Cavan

Dr Hyde Park

The home side know a win is crucial to maintain their push for promotion after last week's setback against Wexford.

After Cavan's inexplicable defeat to Offaly, their confidence is bound to be low. Playing against 14 men for 30 minutes, with a respectable lead, there's no way they should have lost that game to a side on its knees.

Verdict: Roscommon

Antrim v Wexford

Casement Park, 12.45

As good as Wexford are this year they still need to clinch two points here. Antrim's early-season gusto looks to be petering out. They have five under 21s in their ranks as well so there may be a distraction.

Verdict: Wexford

Division 4

Leitrim v Kilkenny

Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada

Kilkenny at least put up some sort of display last weekend but Leitrim will come through comfortably.

Verdict: Leitrim

London v Clare

Ruislip

Clare will take a step further towards a deserved promotion today. Micheál McDermott's men remain hot on the heels of pacesetters Fermanagh.

Verdict: Clare

Carlow v Wicklow

Dr Cullen Park

Wicklow have greater scoring averages but there is not much between the sides. Still, Tony Hannon was in excellent form as they beat Limerick by 2-13 to 0-14 last weekend and ended the game with 1-4. We think they should put back-to-back wins here.

Verdict: Wicklow

Allianz HL Division 1A

Cork v Kilkenny

Páirc Uí Chaoimh

After the uncustomary generosity shown by Kilkenny's defence last weekend, it would be extraordinary to see anything other than a speedy reassertion of their more frugal nature -- the September 2011 version as distinct from September 2010. Cork's pace could give them problems but trying to sustain the intensity long enough to handle Kilkenny is a major ask and there are key areas where Cork are still being rewired. And don't forget that while they conceded six to Dublin, Kilkenny still managed to score five.

Throw in some old animosity and ancient rivalry and you have enough to draw a good crowd to Cork to see how the new regime of JMB stands up to this searching examination. If there was the faintest complacency in Kilkenny last weekend, possibly due to old and stubborn prejudice, then that doesn't apply here.

Cork's chances of a semi-final spot aren't extinguished but the Galway defeat makes it an unlikely attainment. There are a few changes that should strengthen the team.

Stephen McDonnell returns to full-back after injury, and Eoin Cadogan replaces John Gardiner in the cockpit. Gardiner is another of the old guard with a serious fight on his hands to win back his place. Midfield is also under regular review; Seán óg ó hAilpín finds himself in the half-back line again. Kilkenny, hit for six and facing the blood and bandages, to drive on.

Verdict: Kilkenny

Galway v Waterford

Pearse Stadium

Internal upheaval in Waterford on the back of a series of defeats leads them into a fixture which, last summer, proved one of the county's highlights when they won in style and against the odds in Thurles. Though early days in Galway's transition, the signs are encouraging -- the Tribesmen are fast developing a reputation for eliminating those kinds of capitulations and non-performances. Slowly and perceptibly Galway are gaining a standing and will be hard beaten in Leinster this year.

Their form so far, aside from the Walsh Cup trimming from Kilkenny, has been feisty and persuasive and this should result in them virtually sealing a place in the semi-finals with the hardest match left in Nowlan Park next weekend. Also, it is as good for Joe Canning as it is for Galway that they are winning without the Portumna man. James Regan and Iarla Tannian make way for Cyril Donnellan and Barry Daly in the front six. Damian Hayes is enjoying a new lease of life. Winning in Cork was in marked contrast to Waterford's poor showing against Tipp. There may be a kick in them but that Dublin game in Fraher Field next weekend remains the most feasible points achiever.

Verdict: Galway

Division 1B

Clare v Wexford

Cusack Park

Clare hurling's lack of underage performance after winning All-Irelands in the 1990s was a source of exasperation and begged questions of those in charge but Wexford's low impact since 1996 has been more sustained and damaging. Their more recent improvements in that field are encouraging; now they have to make the jump to senior level and that is a painstaking process. Clare have dealt with all the challenges to date and will treat this with caution, reserving a respect for Wexford perhaps not in keeping with their current welfare. Verdict: Clare

Antrim v Laois

Casement Park

Antrim won't have the benefit of their Loughgiel players, heroes of last weekend, while Laois are down two key players through injury. The visitors need something but it looks like another empty take. Verdict: Antrim

Division 2A

Kerry v Down

Fitzgerald Stadium, 12.45

Down's worrying demise is not helped by players withdrawing their services and this is a daunting enough journey on the back of a poor run of form. Kerry stopped the rot in Wicklow last week and despite some unrest over player selection, they should win with something to spare. Verdict: Kerry

Carlow v Derry

Dr Cullen Park, 12.45

Derry have been on an upward graph but this is an away match against the team showing form. Verdict: Carlow

Division 2B

Kildare v Armagh

Newbridge

upwardly mobile Armagh may encounter a setback. Verdict: Kildare

Meath v Roscommon

Páirc Tailteann

Meath look stronger at present.

Verdict: Meath

Division 3A

Sligo v Fingal

Markievicz Park

Fingal's win over Tyrone puts them in promotion contention. They shouldn't compromise that here. Verdict: Fingal

Tyrone v Monaghan

Healy Park

Tyrone's recent slip places increased priority on them winning this. They may come up short. Verdict: Monaghan

Louth v Donegal

Dowdallshill

Louth to stay in the hunt with another win. Verdict: Louth

Division 3B

Warwickshire v Longford, 11.30

Home team can pick up their first points after narrow opening-round defeat. Verdict: Warwickshire

Leitrim v Fermanagh

Ballinamore

Leitrim won well on opening day and can do so again. Verdict: Leitrim

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