FL previews: Mayo and Meath to edge derbies

February 09, 2018

The Allianz Football Leagues continue to gather pace as we reach the third round of fixtures this weekend.
©INPHO/Cathal Noonan.

The Allianz League focuses on football only this weekend and here we preview all of the 16 Round 3 games down for decision.

Saturday, February 10th

Allianz FL Division 1 round 3

Dublin v Donegal, Croke Park, 7pm - eir sport 2

The Dubs return to Croke Park after their trip to Omagh last weekend and are red-hot favourites to be sitting on maximum points heading into the Allianz League break.

Jim Gavin's side have fashioned back-to- back dominant second-half displays against Kildare and Tyrone thus far and head into Saturday night's clash with Donegal as 1/6 favourites to make it three wins on the bounce.

Donegal are perhaps unlucky to be pointless after the opening two rounds, having been without Michael Murphy, Neil McGee, Frank McGlynn and Paddy McGrath, but manager Declan Bonner says he doesn't plan on rushing any of his experienced quartet back from injury for the trip to the capital.

Meanwhile, Dublin continue to flex the considerable muscle they possess within their squad, with Colm Basquel and Eoghan O'Gara coming off the bench to strike 1-3 between them at Healy Park. Their unbeaten run in competitive competition since last April's league final looks likely to be extended here.

Verdict: Dublin

Allianz FL Division 2 round 3

Cavan v Meath, Kingspan Breffni, 7pm - eir sport 1

A mere point in score difference separates these two at the top of the Division 2 table with Meath presently sitting at the summit above their neighbours.

Last Sunday's 14-point victory over a Clare side which drew with Cavan in Round 1 should see the Royals heading to Kingspan Breffni as slight favourites, going on form, but the bookmakers aren't able to call it (they've priced both teams at evens with a draw at 15/2).

Last Saturday night marked Mattie McGleenan's first win as Cavan manager on home soil in a competitive game and his new-look side won't want to go down in this derby battle which could end up going right to the wire.

Verdict: Meath

Allianz FL Division 4 round 3

Carlow v Leitrim, Netwatch Cullen Park, 5pm

Leitrim fought back bravely in their defeat to Laois last weekend and Carlow should be wise to any element of surprise the Connacht side may have when the two battle it out at Newatch Cullen Park on Saturday evening.

Verdict: Carlow

Laois v Waterford, O'Moore Park, 7pm

John Sugrue's Laois side welcome Waterford to Portlaoise on Saturday night as 1/20 favourites and it's hard to see the Deise men causing an upset given Antrim's comfortable win over them the last day.

Verdict: Laois

Sunday, February 11th

Allianz FL Division 1 round 3

Galway v Mayo, Pearse Stadium, 2pm - TG4

The old western derby comes to Salthill on Sunday afternoon as Mayo look to inflict hosts Galway with their first defeat of the campaign.

The Tribesmen have hit the ground running in Division 1 with wins over Tyrone and Donegal, while Stephen Rochford's men hit their first bump in the road last Saturday night when they fell to 13-man Kerry in Castlebar.

Last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists are slender favourites (10/11) to bounce back from that defeat against their old rivals in what would be Rochford's first competitive win over Galway as manager.

Cillian O'Connor, Colm Boyle and Andy Moran all came on in the defeat to the Kingdom and should see more minutes at Pearse Stadium, where all the ingredients look to be right for a real thriller.

Verdict: Mayo

Kildare v Tyrone, Newbridge, 2pm

The stakes are high for this one considering neither side has gained a point after the opening two rounds, leaving the losers of this one in early relegation bother.

Kildare put it up to Dublin for long stages in the opening round but will be annoyed with how they lost out to Monaghan last weekend.

Tyrone also pushed the Dubs last time out before it fell apart for them in the second-half and will be bidding for a much improved performance on Sunday at St Conleth's Park.

The Ulster champions are at 4/6 to get the win and we expect them to keep things according to script here and pick up their first win of the campaign.

Verdict: Tyrone

Monaghan v Kerry, Inniskeen, 2pm

Monaghan upset Kerry when these two sides met in Killarney last year and the Kingdom will no doubt have a bit of revenge on their minds when they make the long journey to Inniskeen this weekend.

Along with Dublin and Galway, the defending champions have taken maximum points from their first two games in Division 1 and are fancied to make it three wins on the bounce when they visit the Farney County.

Malachy O'Rourke introduced star forward Conor McManus off the bench the last day and one would imagine his influence will be needed for a longer duration against the Munster champions.

On the opposite end, there is a question mark over David Clifford's availability after the Fossa sensation missed out on IT Tralee's Sigerson Cup quarter-final loss to DIT on Tuesday night with an injury picked up in the win over Mayo. Eamonn Fitzmaurice's men still get the nod for this one.

Verdict: Kerry

Allianz FL Division 2 round 3

Clare v Tipperary, Cusack Park, 2pm

Clare were inflicted with a 14-point hammering by Meath last weekend and are still awaiting their first win with Cavan having denied them both points on opening weekend.

Tipperary will travel to Ennis fancied to get the job done and bounce back from last weekend's defeat to Roscommon in Thurles, where they let a seven-point lead slip from their grasp.

The Banner men will have other ideas but whether or not they can stop the Premier men's deadly threat up front - led by Conor Sweeney and Michael Quinlivan - remains to be seen.

Verdict: Tipperary

Cork v Louth, Pairc Ui Rinn, 2pm

Louth head south this weekend looking to spring an upset and pull themselves from the foot of the Division 2 table.

Pete McGrath's side have struggled thus far in the second tier and meet a Cork side which bounced back from their first round defeat with a convincing win over Down in Newry.

Mark Collins was on fire early on for the Rebels the last day and could well continue that sizzling form when the Wee County visit Pairc Ui Rinn.

Verdict: Cork

Roscommon v Down, Dr Hyde Park, 2pm

This should be an interesting one at Dr Hyde Park with the victors set to be looking towards a promotion push rather than a relegation battle for the final four rounds.

Roscommon impressively turned the tables on Tipperary during the second-half in Thurles last weekend and manager Kevin McStay will no doubt be keen for more improvement from the Connacht champions.

Down had to pay the price for a poor start against Cork in Round 2 and will be intent on hitting the ground running once they cross the white line on Sunday.

Verdict: Roscommon

Allianz FL Division 3 round 3

Armagh v Longford, Athletic Grounds, 2pm

Along with Fermanagh, these two are the form teams in Division 3 and this one could go a long way to deciding who'll be playing in Croke Park at the end of March.

The bookies are siding with Armagh, as Longford are set to come to the Atheltic Grounds at 11/4 outsiders, and we're expect the Orchard men to edge a tight battle.

Verdict: Armagh

Derry v Offaly, Celtic Park, 2pm

Still without their Slaughtneil contingent, Derry have struggled so far in Division 3 but are hotly-fancied to pick up the first two points when Offaly visit Celtic Park on Sunday.

Like the Oak Leafers and Wexford, Stephen Wallace's men are awaiting their first points and sit bottom with a score difference of -19, which looks set to grow in Round 3.

Verdict: Derry

Sligo v Fermanagh, Markievicz Park, 2pm

Fermanagh look to be flying under Rory Gallagher but Sunday will see them hit the road for the first time in this league campaign as they prepare for a tricky test against Sligo.

The Yeats men held off a spirited comeback from Wexford last time out to book their first win of the competition and should give the visiting Ernesiders a fairly stiff test.

Verdict: Fermanagh

Wexford v Westmeath, Innovate Wexford Park, 2pm

Westmeath head to Wexford for an all-Leinster affair at Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday and are 4/11 favourites to take both points home with them.

Both these sides lost out in close battles last weekend and the Lake men look like inflicting the Slayneysiders with another defeat, with talisman John Heslin to the fore for them.

Verdict: Westmeath

Allianz FL Division 4 round 3

London v Limerick, Ruislip, 1pm

London sent Wicklow packing in Round 2 but face a trickier assignment in welcoming Limerick to Ruislip this weekend, with the Shannonsiders desperate for their first two points of the campaign.

Verdict: Limerick

Antrim v Wicklow, Corrigan Park, 2pm

Antrim sit top of the division with full points and a score difference of +18 and should keep things according to script when Wicklow make the journey to west Belfast.

Verdict: Antrim

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