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Allianz FL heads into hectic four-week period

28 February 2013
After a three-week break the Allianz Football League resumes next weekend at the start of a hectic March period where counties will be in action over four successive weekends.

It's a defining month as many counties will have only one remaining game left (final round of the Allianz Football League on April 7) before heading into the championship in May and June.

Dublin, Kildare, Tyrone, Westmeath, Wexford, Fermanagh, Waterford, Limerick and Carlow are the only unbeaten counties after the first two rounds while Cork, Kerry, Down, Longford, Wicklow, Leitrim, Tipperary and London are still seeking their first points.

DIVISION 1: DUBLIN, KILDARE, TYRONE BID TO BREAK AWAY
Saturday: Dublin v Mayo, Croke Park, 7.0.
Sunday (2.0): Tyrone v Donegal, Omagh; Kildare v Kerry, Newbridge; Down v Cork, Newry.
As the three sides who have won their first two games, Dublin, Kildare and Tyrone will be bidding to widen the gap between the top and bottom half of the table in next weekend's Round 3 programme.

All three will have their prospects boosted by playing at home with Dublin first into action when they play Mayo in Croke Park on Saturday evening. This is one of the weekend highlights, featuring two teams that provided a memorable clash in last year's All-Ireland semi-final last year. Mayo won by a point after withstanding a gritty recovery by Dublin, having had a far easier time in the corresponding League tie last year which they won comfortably in Castlebar.

Dublin have made a hugely impressive start to the Allianz Football League, beating Cork by six points and Kerry by ten points, while Mayo beat Kerry and lost to Tyrone.

Kerry find themselves in an unusual position at the foot of the table after losing to Mayo and Dublin by a combined total of 16 points. They now travel to Newbridge in desperate need of points to not only get themselves back in knock-out contention but also to avoid getting sucked into a relegation battle.

Kildare, in contrast, have made a great start after returning to Division 1 this year, beating reigning All-Ireland champions, Donegal and 2010-11-12 Division 1 League winners, Cork.

So too have Tyrone (promoted with Kildare) who have beaten Down and Mayo. Next up for them is Donegal in what will be an appetiser for the Ulster quarter-final clash between the counties later on in the season.

Donegal got their campaign back on track with a win over Down last time out, having lost to Kildare first time out.

After winning the title for the last three seasons, Cork have made a poor start to this campaign, losing to Dublin and Kildare but will be hoping to begin the revival away to Down, against whom they have an excellent record in League and Championship in recent years.

Results & Fixtures
February 2: Round 1: Dublin 1-18 Cork 2-9; Kildare 2-14 Donegal 1-13; Tyrone 1-11 Down 1-8; February 3: Mayo 0-15 Kerry 1-6.
February 9: Round 2: Kildare 2-10 Cork 1-9; Donegal 0-12 Down 0-7; February 10: Dublin 1-11 Kerry 0-4; Tyrone 1-12 Mayo 1-11.
March 2: Round 3: Dublin v Mayo; March 3: Tyrone v Donegal; Kildare v Kerry; Down v Cork.
March 9: Round 4: Down v Mayo; March 10: Donegal v Kerry; Kildare v Dublin; Tyrone v Cork.
March 16: Round 5: Cork v Donegal; Mayo v Kildare; Dublin v Tyrone; Kerry v Down.
March 23: Round 6: Dublin v Down; March 24: Kerry v Cork; Mayo v Donegal; Kildare v Tyrone.
April 7: Round 7: Down v Kildare; Cork v Mayo; Tyrone v Kerry; Donegal v Dublin.
April 14: Semi-finals: 1 v 4; 2 v 3.
April 28: Final

DIVISION 2: LONGFORD CHASING FIRST POINTS Saturday (7.0): Armagh v Longford, Athletic Grounds; Laois v Louth, Portlaoise. Sunday (2.0): Wexford v Derry, Wexford Park; Galway v Westmeath, Tuam Stadium.

This was always going to be an extremely competitive group and it's living up to expectations after just two rounds. Westmeath are the only county to have won both their games while Longford are the only side still waiting to register a point. Narrow defeats (one and two points respectively) against Wexford and Westmeath leaves Longford, who were promoted from Division 3 this season, bottom of the table as they head to the Athletic Grounds to take on Armagh. The Ulster men staged a great recovery last Saturday to take a point off Wexford. It was Armagh's first point in the campaign, having lost to Laois in the first round,

Wexford, who were also promoted to Division 2 for this campaign, are second on the table with three points and now host Derry who got their early campaign back on track with a win over Laois last time out. So too did Louth who enjoyed a spectacular success against Galway last Saturday, having lost by a point to Westmeath in the first game.

That setback will have come as a real shock to a fancied Galway side which will be under pressure to make an immediate bounce-back at home to Westmeath on Sunday. Meanwhile, Louth travel to Portlaoise on Saturday night to take on Laois who have won one and lost one so far.

Laois, Galway, Derry and Louth are all on two points behind the top two (Westmeath and Wexford), underlining how tight this group is shaping up to be.

Results & Fixtures

February 2: Round 1: Laois 0-20 Armagh 1-10; February 3: Galway 1-15 Derry 0-15; Wexford 2-8 Longford 1-10; Westmeath 0-16 Louth 2-9.
February 10: Round 2: Westmeath 2-7 Longford 1-8; Derry 1-17 Laois 2-11; February 23: Louth 0-17 Galway 0-11; Armagh 3-8 Wexford 3-8.
March 2: Round 3: Armagh v Longford; Laois v Louth; March 3: Wexford v Derry; Galway v Westmeath.
March 9: Round 4: Derry v Armagh; March 10: Longford v Galway; Louth v Wexford; Westmeath v Laois.
March 16: Round 5: Derry v Longford; Armagh v Louth; Laois v Galway; March 18: Wexford v Westmeath.
March 24: Round 6: Galway v Wexford; Louth v Derry; Westmeath v Armagh; Longford v Laois.
April 7: Round 7: Derry v Westmeath; Louth v Longford; Wexford v Laois; Armagh v Galway.
April 28: Final: Top v Second

DIVISION 3: CONTRASTING FORTUNES FOR PROMOTED SIDES Saturday (7.0); Meath v Cavan, Pairc Tailteann; Antrim v Fermanagh, Casement Park.
Sunday (2.0): Roscommon v Wicklow, Dr. Hyde Park; Monaghan v Sligo, Clones.

If Division 2 is shaping up to be very competitive, Division 3 looks certain to be equally tight. Fermanagh are the only county with full points while Wicklow are the only county without a point after two rounds.

That's quite a contrast for the two counties who were promoted from Division 4 at the start of the campaign and it now remains to be seen if the gap between them widens or narrows in the hectic weeks ahead.

Fermanagh travel to Casement Park on Saturday night to take on Antrim, who have won one of two so far while Wicklow will be away to Roscommon, who have taken two points from their opening two games. Wicklow have scored just 0-17 in their first two games, in contrast to Fermanagh who returned a total of 3-28 against Wicklow and Roscommon.

Monaghan got off to a great start, beating Meath by 12 points in the first round but got a severe jolt against Cavan last time out, losing by eight points. Monaghan will host Sligo (one win from two games) on Sunday while Meath, who got back on track with an eight-point win over Wicklow in the second round, will host Cavan on Saturday night.

Cavan, Monaghan, Antrim, Sligo, Roscommon and Meath are all on two points at present.

Results & Fixtures
February 3: Round 1: Antrim 1-14 Cavan 2-9; Monaghan 1-18 Meath 2-3; Fermanagh 1-16 Wicklow 0-9; Roscommon 1-11 Sligo 1-8.
February 9: Cavan 1-10Monaghan 0-5; Fermanagh 2-12 Roscommon 2-6; February 10: Sligo 1-12 Antrim 0-13; Meath 0-16 Wicklow 0-8.
March 2: Round 3: Meath v Cavan; Antrim v Fermanagh; March 3: Roscommon v Wicklow; Monaghan v Sligo.
March 9: Round 4: Fermanagh v Monaghan; March 10: Sligo v Cavan; Wicklow v Antrim; Roscommon v Meath.
March 16: Round 5: Monaghan v Wicklow; Antrim v Roscommon; Cavan v Fermanagh; Meath v Sligo.
March 24: Round 6: Antrim v Meath; Fermanagh v Sligo; Wicklow v Cavan; Roscommon v Monaghan.
April 7: Round 7: Monaghan v Antrim; Sligo v Wicklow; Meath v Fermanagh; Cavan v Roscommon.
April 27: Final: Top v Second

DIVISION 4: MUNSTER PAIR IN CRUCIAL CLASH

Saturday (7.0): Waterford v Limerick, Dungarvan 7.0 Sunday (2.0 unless stated): Offaly v Clare, Tullamore, 2.0; Carlow v Leitrim, Dr. Cullen Park; Tipperary v London, Thurles (1.0).

The clash of Waterford and Limerick, both of whom won their opening games, in Dungarvan on Saturday night could provide outright leaders as the group heads into the busy March period.

Neither side has conceded a goal so far and have given every indication that they will be serious contenders for the promotion places. Waterford beat Clare and Tipperary while Limerick beat Leitrim and Offaly.

Carlow are also on four points after recording narrow wins over Tipperary and London respectively and will be hoping to exploit home advantage against Leitrim on Sunday as they attempt to build on their excellent start under new manager, Anthony Rainbow.
Leitrim won the FBD Connacht League in January but - so far at least - haven't taken that form into the League, losing to Limerick and Clare.
Tipperary, who were among the pre-season promotion favourites, have started badly, losing to Carlow and Waterford but will be hoping to get off the mark at home to fellow-strugglers, London.
Offaly and Clare have each won one and lost one, which makes their clash in Tullamore very interesting as two sides that are under new management attempt to move with the promotion pace.

Results & Fixtures
February 3: Round 1: Offaly 1-13 London 1-5; Waterford 1-9 Clare 0-11; Limerick 0-11 Leitrim 0-9; Carlow 1-14 Tipperary 0-16.
February 9: Round 2: Waterford 2-8 Tipperary 0-9; February 10: Clare 1-14 Leitrim 2-8; Limerick. 0-12 Offaly 1-8.
February 16: Round 2: Carlow 0-13 London 1-9.
March 2: Round 3: Waterford v Limerick; March 3: Offaly v Clare; Carlow v Leitrim; Tipperary v London.
March 9: Round 4: Clare v Tipperary; London v Waterford; March 10: Limerick v Carlow; Leitrim v Offaly.
March 16: Round 5: Leitrim v Waterford; Offaly v Carlow; Limerick v Tipperary; March 30: Clare v London.
March 24: Round 6: Waterford v Offaly; London v Limerick; Tipperary v Leitrim; Carlow v Clare.
April 7: Round 7: Leitrim v London; Clare v Limerick; Carlow v Waterford; Offaly v Tipperary.
April 27: Final: Top v Second






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