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Today's Allianz league previews

(All 2.30 unless stated)


Division 1


Fitzgerald Stadium

Kieran Donaghy seemed to enjoy playing out the field in the win over Down, but he may be needed in more of a target-man role if they are to bypass the wall of Donegal defenders that will descend on Killarney. It will be interesting to see how Kerry engineer space and scores today.

One plus is the form of Barry John Keane, who has so much to offer the team if he can introduce more consistency to his game.

Donegal, though, will also have confidence. They only conceded 0-6 to Cork last time out; a superb achievement.

Michael Murphy is back and already in great form at the other end with 1-3 against Cork. We take Kerry, however, to emerge.

Verdict: Kerry

Mayo v Down

Elvery's McHale Park

Down are facing a battle to retain their Division 1 status and had an awful lot of wasteful shooting in the early stages of their game with Kerry. Throughout the first 10 or 15 minutes they actually had Kerry on the back foot, but just didn't put any scores on the board.

There are a few factors which should spur Mayo on. Conor Mortimer is closing in on Joe Corcoran's all-time scoring record of 415 points for the county. Corcoran amassed 20-358 during a glittering career, but his 38-year record is under threat from the Shrule/Glencorrib forward, who has scored 14-360 (402 points) thus far.

And getting closer to a league final would bring the county nearer to the €80,000 prize fund that's available for the winners, a substantial amount in Mayo's current financial predicament.

Verdict: Mayo

Dublin v Armagh

Croke Park, 4.15

The question is can Eoghan O'Gara put steady back-to-back displays together after his excellent 1-5 tally against Laois. No one doubts O'Gara's ball-winning skills but sometimes he takes very poor options. Last weekend, though, he was on top of his game and it would be great to see his talent emerge more often now. Dublin gave away a very clumsy goal against Laois but the effort and enthusiasm for the battle was there and they should be on top of Armagh. Verdict: Dublin

Division 2

Monaghan v Louth


After all the toing and froing in committee rooms , football will hopefully break out in Clones today. Anyway, Monaghan could be distracted by the whole affair and that would benefit Louth whose manager Peter Fitzpatrick has targeted seven points in the league. Given that they only have three so far and went down by six to Tyrone last weekend, a win is essential if they are to stay up.

They'll miss Shane Lennon who is out for three months. Meanwhile, Monaghan are struggling for scores. They only fired 0-8 against Derry and that game was wrapped up at half-time.

Verdict: Louth

Galway v Meath

Pearse Stadium

Were we the only ones shocked at how Galway fell away to Westmeath? Manager Alan Mulholland points out that they're a young side with no right to beat anyone, but there will surely have to be a backlash today.

Returning to winning ways could be tricky because Meath are hardy. Galway allowed Westmeath to score three unanswered points in injury-time last time out while Meath, you feel, have a lot of experienced players with points to prove. Verdict: Meath

Kildare v Derry


Kildare should handle Derry here. Eighteen points is a pretty good return from last weekend considering what they missed. They'll have to watch out for the concession of sloppy goals, though -- it nearly derailed them against Meath. But you can see their team gelling back together now with the likes of Morgan O'Flaherty, Mick Foley, Peter Kelly and Emmet Bolton back. Derry are not as bad this year as people think and they'll have open wounds in the lead-up to playing the Lilies' but they'll struggle to land a win.

Verdict: Kildare

Division 3

Tipperary v Cavan

Semple Stadium, 12.45

Last Sunday was a dark day for Tipperary football, the lowest in John Evans' spell but it was a rare enough event following their progress of recent times. Conceding 2-20 to Wexford has left them in a fragile enough state.

Morale is low whereas Cavan are still smiling from a great win over Sligo. When the sides clashed last year Seánie Johnston was the difference. Cavan's work-rate and tempo has increased and players like David Givney and Gearóid McKiernan at midfield and Martin Dunne and Kevin Meehan in attack are impressing. Verdict: Cavan

Offaly v Wexford


Wexford are on a high and intent on making Division 2. Although Offaly under 21s had a sensational win over Kildare last week, their senior team has yet to get going. Niall McNamee is back, though, and just as well because they desperately need more punch in attack after last Saturday's defeat to Antrim.

Verdict: Wexford

Sligo v Longford

Markievicz Park

This is a close one to call. Colm McGee and Adrian Marren showed up well last weekend against Cavan but few others impressed for Sligo.

If there is fight still in them they had better start showing it soon. At home, they are always hard to break down but Longford look to have the bit between their teeth. They overcame the concession of two early goals to beat Roscommon impressively. People are underestimating them.

Verdict: Longford

Roscommon v Antrim

Dr Hyde Park

Antrim put 2-14 past Offaly and it would be dangerous to back against them a few days after recording such a healthy tally. But playing in their own back yard, and after succumbing to their local rivals last weekend, Roscommon need to roar back with a win and should do so. Verdict: Roscommon

Division 4

Fermanagh v Wicklow


Wicklow were simply dire against Waterford in the defensive stakes and while they tried to come back, the damage was done. Fermanagh's revolution to continue. Verdict: Fermanagh

Carlow v Clare

Dr Cullen Park

This is the trickiest game of the division. As predicted here, Clare beat a fancied Limerick side last Sunday while Carlow overcame London. We fancy Clare to notch another tight win and keep the bandwagon rolling.

Verdict: Clare

Leitrim v London

Carrick-on-Shannon, 1.0

London, for all the players they have welcomed since the start of the recession, haven't got going this season.

Verdict: Leitrim

Allianz NHL

Division 1A

Dublin v Cork

Croke Park, 2.0

Injuries to key players continues to be a source of angst for Anthony Daly -- Liam Rushe and Peter Kelly the latest victims -- but the torpor shown in Galway can't be pardoned entirely by a poor bill of health. Rushe and Kelly were both playing that day and indeed were among the few to emerge with their reputations intact. The wider inertia is something which Dublin might have felt was a thing of the past. If they don't get something here, then relegation is a serious prospect, and a last-round trip to Waterford may decide their fate.

Cork come to Dublin in sunnier mood. Conor Lehane is one of hurling's new-wave revelations, while they bring in Eoin Cadogan and Tom Kenny, the latter moving into a midfield that is not, whatever else, short on experience.

Verdict: Cork

Waterford v Kilkenny

Walsh Park

A difficult spring looks in store for Waterford under the new regime as they still miss the attacking menace of John Mullane. This match does not hold out great promise of adjusting their expectations either.

Kilkenny have started the year in the zone and possess such an intimidating style and substance that Waterford must keep it tight and learn the hard way. And it is never too late to learn as Eoin Larkin -- fair dues -- can attest.

Verdict: Kilkenny

Tipperary v Galway

Semple Stadium

What if Galway had held on a few years ago, or nicked one more score, and put Tipperary out of the 2010 championship. They've been downhill since then but the win over Dublin carried promise of a more resolute mien and better awareness of where their strengths and weaknesses reside.

Tipp have their own mission and need to rediscover themselves. Five changes from the team that lost to Kilkenny brings upheaval through the side. Shane Bourke, one of the few bright spots the last day, is promoted. Galway make one change: Bernard Burke replaces Barry Daly. Joe Canning is still on the injured list. A must-win for the Premier. Verdict: Tipperary

Division 1B

Clare v Antrim

Cusack Park

Antrim created the result of the first round in defeating Wexford minus their Loughgiel players, but this is a tough assignment against a team enlivened by an opening-round blitz of Limerick. Clare's support play and team-work was excellent and carefully schooled, but there were still glimpses of defensive deficiencies. Antrim probably won't exploit those flaws enough to win. They make three changes at half-back, midfield and full-forward.

Verdict: Clare

Wexford v Offaly

Wexford Park

Two troubled sons of Leinster who have fallen on hard times. Wexford's start has been infinitely poorer and places major onus on a big performance. With Coolderry in the club final, Offaly hurling is attracting more spotlight. They can win this but there is usually little enough to separate them.

Verdict: Offaly

Laois v Limerick


Limerick's abysmal loss to Clare removed any prospect of them going into this soft-hearted. There are grounds for optimism if they get the formula right with some serious young talent already established like Shane Dowling, Kevin Downes and Declan Hannon, though all three were battling injury heading into this. Laois have some good hurlers too and need to keep believing, as indeed does the Corkonian in charge. Verdict: Limerick

Division 2A

Down v Wicklow


Very poor start for Down but they can get off the mark here against a feisty visiting side. Verdict: Down

Derry v Westmeath

Celtic Park

Westmeath made a promising start and are good enough to maintain it.

Verdict: Westmeath

Kerry v Carlow

Fitzgerald Stadium, 12.45

Tie of the round. Carlow impressed hugely in the first round while Kerry stumbled but will be hard beaten at home. Carlow can do the needful.

Verdict: Carlow

Division 2B

Armagh v Roscommon, TBC: Roscommon given a slight nod.

Verdict: Roscommon

Kildare v London, Newbridge, 12.30: Not a clear-cut call. Kildare might nick it. Verdict: Kildare

Mayo v Meath, McHale Park, 12.45: Mayo are without Keith Higgins due to the direct clash with football. Meath might pinch a win. Verdict: Meath

Division 3A

Fingal v Monaghan, Drumigh: Fingal are up and running. They can bolster their points cache here. Verdict: Fingal

Donegal v Tyrone, Letterkenny: Tyrone can atone for their Lory Meagher final defeat in 2011. Verdict: Tyrone

Sligo v Louth, Markievicz Park, 12.45: Neither county has had the best of starts. Louth get a hesitant vote.

Verdict: Louth

Division 3B

Fermanagh v Warwickshire, Irvinestown, 1.0: Warwickshire defeated Fermanagh when the sides met in the Lory Meagher quarter-finals last year. Verdict: Fermanagh

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