FL previews: 'Battle of the champions' at Croker

March 09, 2018

Dublin and Kerry players tussle for possession near the touchline during their side's Allianz FL Division 1 final clash at Croke Park in 2017.
©INPHO/Ryan Byrne.

Round 5 of the Allianz Football League has been rescheduled for this weekend and sees old rivals Dublin and Kerry meet in a 'battle of the champions' at Croke Park on Sunday.


Saturday, March 10th

Allianz FL Division 1 round 5

Tyrone v Donegal
, Healy Park, 7pm - eir sport 2

The stakes are high in this Ulster derby as the losers will be in a relegation dogfight for the last two rounds.

Tyrone suffered their third loss of the campaign last time out after going down in a battle against Monaghan and Donegal's win over Kildare the following day has since saw Declan Bonner's side leap the Ulster champions on score difference.

When these two met three weeks ago it was a sweet victory for the Tir Chonaill men in denying their rivals a seventh consecutive Dr McKenna Cup success and you can be sure the Red Hands will want to atone for their below par showing at the Athletic Grounds that night.

The question is whether or not they can halt the likes of Paddy McBrearty and co from doing them irreversible damage, with the Kilcar sharpshooter in imperious form as of late.

Verdict: Donegal

Allianz FL Division 2 round 5

Cavan v Down, Kingspan Breffni, 7pm

A win here for Cavan would see them making an enormous stride towards an immediate return to Division 1 after suffering relegation during Mattie McGleenan's debut season with the team.

It seems the former Tyrone forward has found something close to a settled team after bringing in 10 newcomers in the opening round against Clare, with young Butlersbridge ace Caoímhín O'Reilly leading the front line brilliantly once more during the first-half of the Round 4 victory down in Cork.

As for Down, they welcome back full-forward Connaire Harrison from a two-match suspension as they look for a response from a largely flat performance against Clare last time out.

Verdict: Cavan

Allianz FL Division 3 round 5

Wexford v Offaly, Enniscorthy, 3pm

The winners at St Patrick's Park could be level on points with Derry and Sligo depending on results elsewhere this weekend.

Neither side has managed to pick up a point yet and the losers at the newly appointed Enniscorthy venue tomorrow will be staring relegation in the face afterwards.

Verdict: Draw

Armagh v Derry, Athletic Grounds, 7pm

It's another Ulster derby and the formbook may very well go out the window with Derry set to welcome back their Slaughtneil members following their defeat to Nemo Rangers the weekend before last.

Armagh lead Division 3 with a 10-point superior score difference than Fermanagh and should get a better test from the Oak Leafers on their home turf than most would expect.

Verdict: Armagh

Allianz FL Division 4 round 5

Limerick v Waterford, Staker Wallace GAA, 7pm

These two bottom-placed sides will be playing for pride once the ball is thrown-in at Martinstown for this Munster derby.

Verdict: Limerick

Carlow v Wicklow, Netwatch Cullen Park, 7pm

This Leinster derby only looks like going one way once you read the formbook, with the Barrowsiders looking to keep the pressure on Laois at the top as well as stay above fellow promotion chasers Antrim.

Verdict: Carlow

Sunday, March 11th

Allianz FL Division 1 round 5

Galway v Monaghan, Pearse Stadium, 12.30pm - TG4

This one should be a cracker.

Galway highlighted their status as a Division 1 side in Round 4 with a superb victory over Kerry (their first in 15 years) in Tralee.

The Tribesmen will be setting their sights on another league final should they be able to maintain their winning run against a Monaghan side which have also caught fire lately. The Ulster side backed up their win over the Kingdom in Inniskeen with another battling display against Tyrone which saw them edge past the Red Hands with the minimum to spare.

If Malachy O'Rourke's men can make it four wins on the trot in Salthill then they will leap the home side up to second place in the table with two rounds remaining (against Donegal and Dublin, respectively).

Still with a 100 per cent record intact, it's the men from the west that are the bookies' favourites at 8/13 but, with deadly inside men Conor McManus and Conor McCarthy at their disposal, there'll be plenty that fancy the Farney men to provide them with their first bump in the road on Sunday.

Verdict: Draw

Kildare v Mayo, Newbridge, 2pm - TG4 (deferred)

The losers here are in real trouble and, truth be told, Kildare look to be in it already with their fourth defeat of the campaign rooting them to the bottom of the table.

Mayo's narrow win over Monaghan in the opening round is all that keeps last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists above the Lilywhites and they'll need their shooting boots with them at St Conleth's Park if they are to gather two more precious points.

Stephen Rochford was left to rue his side's missed chances against the Dubs in Castlebar last time out and, while there was the positive of a return for Lee Keegan on the night, the Westerners are in need of points fast heading into the final three rounds.

Defeat for Cian O'Neill's men would all but spell a return to Division 2 next season, so expect a close and full-blooded encounter to ensure in Newbridge on Sunday.

Verdict: Mayo

Dublin v Kerry, Croke Park, 4pm - eir sport 1

The old epic rivalry returns to Croke Park this Sunday as Dublin look to get some revenge over Kerry from last year's league final defeat.

The bookmakers fancy Jim Gavin's side to do exactly that, pricing the All-Ireland champions at 1/3, and it's not hard to see why when you take a look at the talent they brought off the bench in Castlebar two weeks ago.

Diarmuid Connolly and Cian O'Sullivan will be that much closer to a starting place after each got a decent chunk of game time in the four-point win over Mayo.

As for Kerry, they'll have no issues with being up for this one after going down by a goal to Galway at home in Round 4. Not to mention that a defeat for the Munster champions will mean they won't be in a position to defend their Division 1 crown come April 1st.

This one should live up to its billing.

Verdict: Dublin

Allianz FL Division 2 round 5

Tipperary v Louth, Semple Stadium, 12.30pm

Tipperary's attackers lit up Semple Stadium in the last round against Meath with Conor Sweeney striking 0-9 to condemn the Royals to their second defeat in as many weeks.

Louth come to Thurles this weekend as 15/2 outsiders to halt the Premier men's promotion push and it's difficult to see how they can spring what would be the biggest upset in the division thus far.

The Wee County have not won a game in the opening four rounds while Tipp's home displays so far have been excellent.

Verdict: Tipperary

Clare v Roscommon, Cusack Park, 2pm

Roscommon are earmarked as clear favourites to beat the Banner County but, as things stand, only a point separates these two in the table four rounds in.

Clare sprung an upset over Down in their last outing (their first away win in two years) and will be confident that they can do the same when they welcome the Rossies to Ennis, with their star man inside David Tubridy fully recovered from injury and back in the starting line-up.

For Kevin McStay's team it's simple; they need to win to keep the heat on Cavan as the current division leaders get set to visit them at Dr Hyde Park in Round 6.

Verdict: Roscommon

Meath v Cork, Pairc Tailteann, 3pm

Both these teams produced flat performances on their last assignments and need a win in this one to keep a realistic shot at promotion alive.

That may sound optimistic for Meath, as they currently sit second bottom, but a win in Navan on Sunday could really turn things around before they face fellow strugglers Down and a pointless Louth side in the final two rounds.

As for Cork, they'll be looking for a response from the disappointing home loss to Cavan but, with Sean Powter and Aidan Walsh out and their Nemo contingent also unavailable, they are likely to continue to find the going tough until Ronan McCarthy has his full squad available to him.

Verdict: Meath

Allianz FL Division 3 round 5

Sligo v Longford, Markievicz Park, 2pm

Both these sides will be desperate to win for different reasons on Sunday and it's hard to look past Longford maintaining their promotion push going by results so far.

A win for Denis Connerton's men keeps the heat on Armagh and Fermanagh at the top of the table, but they're likely to be made work every minute for it at Markievicz Park as Sligo look to move away from the drop zone.

Verdict: Longford

Westmeath v Fermanagh, TEG Cusack Park, 3pm

This is where the promotion battle really heats up and you get the feeling that the winners of this one will have one foot in the Division 3 final on March 31st.

Fermanagh's form has been faultless thus far (bar maybe a second-half collapse against Derry in victory the last day) and Rory Gallagher's men are sure to be in for one hell of a battle when they visit Mullingar.

Verdict: Fermanagh

Allianz FL Division 4 round 5

London v Laois, Ruislip, 1pm

Laois make the journey across the Irish Sea on the back of four wins from as many outings which sees them sitting top of the division ahead of neighbours Carlow on score difference.

A much improved London will pose a difficult challenge for the O'Moore County at McGovern Park but the visitors are expected to carve out another victory.

Verdict: Laois 


Our Match Tracker will bring live coverage from the latest round of Allianz Football League games on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

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