FL previews: All eyes on Croker

March 30, 2018

This weekend sees all four Allianz Football League finals take place at Croke Park.
©INPHO/James Crombie.

All four Allianz Football League finals are down for decision this Easter Bank Holiday weekend and here we preview the games taking place on Saturday and Sunday.

 

Saturday, March 31st

Allianz FL Division 2 round 6

Down v Tipperary, Pairc Esler, 3pm

Down need to win this one and hope that Pete McGrath's Louth side do them a favour against Meath in Drogheda in order to avoid joining the Wee County in Division 3 next season.

The Mourne men were made pay for their concession of goals last time out against the Royals and face an uphill battle in beating the drop this weekend. They welcome a Tipperary side which were narrowly pipped for promotion by Cavan last Sunday.

Liam Kearns's men will be keen to make the most of their last competitive outing before the Munster SFC quarter-final against Waterford but, with much more at stake, it's their Ulster counterparts that get the nod here.

Verdict: Down

Louth v Meath, Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda, 3pm

Meath scored a sorely required win against Down last weekend and need to finish the job tomorrow afternoon when they make the short trip to Drogheda.

Relegated Louth are 9/2 to hand their neighbours a fourth defeat of the campaign and it's difficult to envisage Pete McGrath's charges doing so given their form in the campaign thus far.

Cillian O'Sullivan was in red-hot form for the Royals last Sunday and when these met in the championship last summer it was Andy McEntee's men that posted 0-27 in an impressive display.

Expect a similar sort of tally at the Gaelic Grounds to ensure the visitors' safety.

Verdict: Meath

Allianz FL Division 3 final

Armagh v Fermanagh, Croke Park, 5pm - TG4

Some silverware should add plenty of spice to this Ulster derby and it's Kieran McGeeney's Armagh side that are the bookies favourites for tomorrow evening's clash at Croker.

McGeeney has had some injury headaches throughout this league campaign but it didn't halt his charges from achieving promotion to Division 2, as their only defeat in seven games came in last Sunday's dead rubber affair against Wexford.

When Fermanagh welcomed the Orchard men to Enniskillen two weeks ago the visitors had to dig deep to grind out a 0-7 apiece draw and it's safe enough to assume that this showpiece will produce a few more scores over the 70 minutes.

Armagh kicked 16 wides the last day but, with some regulars set to return, they should find their shooting boots again at headquarters.

Verdict: Armagh

Allianz FL Division 4 final

Carlow v Laois, Croke Park, 3pm - TG4

Laois pipped Carlow last weekend by a single point to join them in Division 3 next season and those that turn out for the early throw-in at Croke Park tomorrow will be hoping for a higher quality affair.

The O'Moore men are favourites to repeat the trick and make it back-to-back wins over the Barrowsiders here, with their ace attacker Gary Walsh in red-hot form throughout this campaign.

Turlough O'Brien's side are gunning for a long-awaited win at HQ for their county and just might pull it off if the Murphy's, Brendan and Sean, and top scorer Paul Broderick hit form for the underdogs.

Verdict: Carlow

 

Sunday, April 1st

Allianz FL Division 1 final

Dublin v Galway, Croke Park, 4pm - TG4

Unbeaten Galway head for Croke Park on Sunday looking to do what Kerry did in this fixture last year in toppling the mighty Dubs.

Kevin Walsh's high-flying side are 4/1 outsiders to do so and there'll be a few that fancy that price given their displays so far, particularly the one that nearly saw them shock the capital men in Salthill.

The Tribesmen are looking for their first Division 1 crown since 1981 and will also be lining out in their first final in 12 years.

Traditionally, rising to the occasion has seldom been an issue for the men from the west, but they're coming up against a juggernaut this time round that haven't made a habit on missing out on silverware since Jim Gavin's reign began six-and- a-half years ago.

Since that time four Sam Maguire Cups have been delivered, along with as many wins in this competition, and the domination looks set to continue into this summer.

The noise in the build-up to this one has been over Diarmuid Connolly's absence from the All-Ireland champions' squad for their last three outings, but the St Vincent's star will hardly be missed if they hit their stride and keep things according to script.

Galway will require something special here.

Verdict: Dublin

Allianz FL Division 2 final

Cavan v Roscommon, Croke Park, 2pm - TG4

The recent meetings between these two have all gone one way and, to put it simply, it's been the way of the Rossies.

Last Sunday week's battle at Dr Hyde Park failed to see Cavan buck the trend, despite them looking like doing so for long stages, as the Connacht champions got promoted ahead of them after grinding out a two-point win in the end.

Needless to say, there's no shortage of incentive for the Breffni men heading into this one, as they lost the Division 3 final to the same opposition at the same venue four years ago and went out in the qualifiers to them in back-to-back summers during Terry Hyland's time in charge.

Cian Mackey and skipper Dara McVeety have been instrumental throughout the Blues' campaign and they'll need to be again on Sunday if their county are to take home some long-awaited silverware from HQ.

Roscommon's last visit to the capital saw them annihilated by Mayo but it's been relatively smooth sailing ever since and they should shade things to maintain the trend against their favourite Ulster opposition this weekend.

Verdict: Roscommon

 

Stay tuned to the hoganstand.com Live Match Tracker this weekend for all the latest action from the four Allianz Football League finals and more.



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