FL previews: Omagh and Castlebar play host to 'Big 4'

February 02, 2018

Mayo and Kerry will meet in the Allianz FL at MacHale Park, Castlebar on Saturday in a repeat of last year's All-Ireland SFC semi-final.
©INPHO/Cathal Noonan.

After an action-packed opening weekend in the Allianz Football League, let's hope for more of the same this weekend! Here are our previews for Round 2.

 

Saturday, February 3rd

Allianz FL Division 1 round 2

Tyrone v Dublin, Healy Park, 7pm

The hope for Tyrone fans and neutrals alike is that this one doesn't follow the same pattern as last year's All-Ireland SFC semi-final, which saw Mickey Harte's men blown out of the water early on.

Dublin's knack of demolishing the opposition in the space of 10 minutes or so was on display again last weekend when they staged a second-half blitz against Kildare.

One would imagine Tyrone, having been upset by Galway last weekend, will be doing all in their power to avoid such catastrophes and instead just limit the damage against this capital juggernaut while doing enough at the other end.  

When these two met last spring it finished all square with the Red Hands having led by three heading for the closing stages. Keep in mind, the club committed Colm Cavanagh won't be in the Ulster champions' engine room this time round and his loss will be colossal against such an in-form midfield which the All-Ireland champions boast.

Verdict: Dublin

Mayo v Kerry, MacHale Park, 7pm - eir sport 1

Mayo are welcoming Kerry to Castlebar this weekend as favourites and will no doubt be keen to live up to their billing against the Munster kingpins in front of their home support.

This is another All-Ireland semi-final repeat and the formbook points to a win for Stephen Rochford's charges, having also defeated the Kingdom by two points in Tralee in Round 2 of the league last year.

Last Sunday saw the holders handing ex-minor sensation David Clifford his first senior start against Donegal and while the Fossa man didn't dazzle on his debut, he'll be getting another bite at the cherry this weekend. Mayo's attack should also see more minutes from Cillian O'Connor, who came on in the one-point win over Monaghan.

This one's a clash of the second and third best teams in the country. Which is still up for debate in the eyes of many, but we're likely to learn a bit more for the argument come the last whistle at MacHale Park on Saturday night.  

Verdict: Draw

Allianz FL Division 2 round 2

Cavan v Louth, Kingspan Breffni, 7pm

Cavan started with 10 newcomers in last Saturday's draw against Clare and Mattie McGleenan's line-up should look a bit more familiar this time out considering his use of four substitutes after just 42 minutes down in Ennis.

Conor Moynagh and Cian Mackey were amongst the early changes for the Breffni men, with the latter landing 0-2 and setting up a goal which proved vital in the Blues' revival before Bryan Magee's pressure free snatched them a draw at the death.

Pete McGrath's Louth come to Cavan town as 3/1 underdogs after a poor first round showing against Down in Drogheda and will be looking for a complete turnaround from that performance, having been earmarked as relegation favourites in this division after opening weekend.

Verdict: Cavan

 

Sunday, February 4th

Allianz FL Division 1 round 2

Kildare v Monaghan, Newbridge, 2pm

Kildare got a harsh second-half lesson from Dublin in Round 1 but they'll still have taken a handful of positives from the seven-point defeat to the top side in the country.

When the Lilywhites welcome Monaghan to Newbridge on Sunday they'll be looking to mirror the good things they did in the opening 35 minutes against the Dubs, while also keeping star man Kevin Feely on the field of play.

Feely was the victim of cynical play from the All-Ireland champions last weekend, according to Kildare boss Cian O'Neill, having had to retire late in the game with a calf injury.

The Athy star should be okay to start but there are still question marks over the fitness of ace attacker Conor McManus on the opposite side, while Ryan Wylie will miss out on the St Conleth's Park clash through suspension.

Verdict: Kildare

Donegal v Galway, Letterkenny, 2.30pm

Galway got the start they wanted to life in Division 1 with a four-point win over Tyrone on home turf and head north this Sunday looking to take another scalp against Ulster opposition.

Donegal were unlucky not to take something from Killarney on opening weekend and will head into this one with a bit of extra incentive considering how the Tribesmen dismantled them in Round 4 of last year's qualifiers.

While the Tir Chonaill men have lost the services of Eoin McHugh for the season - and still have veteran stars Michael Murphy and Neil McGee sidelined - last Sunday saw them welcoming back Odhran MacNiallais and Leo McLoone to competitive action.

This Sunday's a tough one to call, and it could go right down to the wire in Letterkenny, but we're predicting Declan Bonner's men will get off the mark.

Verdict: Donegal

Allianz FL Division 2 round 2

Down v Cork, Pairc Esler, 1.30pm

Cork revealed the news on Thursday that star forward Sean Powter will miss the remainder of their league campaign as a result of the torn hamstring he suffered in Round 1.

The Douglas clubman will be a huge loss to the Rebels whom face a tough assignment this weekend in making the long trip to Newry trying to get things back on track after Tipp upset them on their home turf.

Down looked good against Louth in Drogheda and could have Kilcoo star Ryan Johnston available to them this weekend.

Verdict: Cork

Tipperary v Roscommon, Semple Stadium, 2pm

Tipperary boss Liam Kearns has handed former county senior hurling panellist John Meagher his first start at full-back for this one, while Cahir clubman Liam Casey comes in at midfield from the first round win over Cork.

The Premier men's attack lit up Páirc Ui Chaoimh last Saturday night with a 3-8 return in the second-half and Roscommon's defence will be looking to keep the likes of Liam McGrath and Michael Quinlivan under tighter wraps this weekend.

Tipped by many as promotion favourites before opening weekend, Kevin McStay's men let a four-point lead slip against Meath late on before salvaging a draw last Sunday and will be looking for an all-round improved performance. Captain Conor Devaney and Diarmuid Murtagh are set to be both available for the trip to Thurles despite picking up injuries against the Royals.

Verdict: Roscommon

Meath v Clare, Pairc Tailteann, 2pm

Meath were unlucky not to take home both points from Roscommon after a rollercoaster finish at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday and will be fancied to book a win when Clare come to visit this weekend.

The Banner men also got denied victory late on after Cavan's six-point comeback in Ennis and head for Navan as 5/2 outsiders with ace attacker David Tubridy still sidelined through injury.

Simonstown pair Padraig McKeever and Sean Tobin both impressed off the bench five days ago and could be pushing for starts at Pairc Tailteann.

Verdict: Meath

Allianz FL Division 3 round 2

Fermanagh v Offaly, Brewster Park, 2.30pm

Fermanagh's promising start under Rory Gallagher would not be derailed last weekend when Wexford visited Enniskillen and they'll welcome Offaly to the same venue with plenty of confidence on Sunday.

Seamus Quigley has been in fine form so far this season for the Ernesiders and he'll be the one to watch for the visitors whom have made four changes from their heavy defeat to Longford, which includes a first start for former League of Ireland goalkeeper Paddy Dunican.

Verdict: Fermanagh

Sligo v Wexford, Markievicz Park, 2pm

Sligo manager Cathal Corey has marked Sunday's meeting with Wexford as "a very, very important game" for the Yeats men and it's not hard to understand why.

Both these teams lost in their first outings of the campaign and another defeat spells an early relegation battle rather than a promotion push.

Verdict: Sligo

Longford v Derry, Pearse Park, 2pm

Longford cruised past Offaly in Round 1 while Derry went down to Westmeath after a battle with the Lake men at Celtic Park.

Still minus the services of their Slaughtneil contingent, the Oak Leafers can expect nothing easy either against Denis Connerton's men over the 70 minutes at Pearse Park.

Verdict: Draw

Westmeath v Armagh, TEG Cusack Park, 2.30pm

This one's the tie of the round in Division 3 and a repeat of last July's qualifier in Mullingar, things boiled over on a few occasions to say the least.

Armagh claimed victory that day but Westmeath are more the form team this time round, winning in Derry last weekend with an O'Bryne Cup final date still to look forward to.

The Orchard men will hope to have star midfielder Niall Grimley back for the trip to the midlands on Sunday and we fancy them to edge a close one here.

Verdict: Armagh

Allianz FL Division 4 round 2

London v Wicklow, Ruislip, 1pm

Wicklow head across the water as slight favourites for this one, but London's display against Carlow last time out offers plenty of encouragement for the Exiles heading into Round 2.

Verdict: London

Waterford v Antrim, Carriganore, 2pm

The Glensmen opened their league campaign under Lenny Harbinson in comfortable fashion against Leitrim and should make it two wins from two against Waterford.

Verdict: Antrim

Leitrim v Laois, Pairc Sean MacDiarmada, 2pm

Laois handed out six debuts in Round 1 and had nine points to spare when all was said and done against Limerick. John Sugrue's charges will be confident they can take home both points from Carrick-on-Shannon.

Verdict: Laois

Limerick v Carlow, Gaelic Grounds, 2pm

You get the feeling a win here will be crucial if Carlow are to mount a promotion push and we fancy the Barrowsiders to take home both points from the Treaty County.

Verdict: Carlow

 

Join us for our Live Match Tracker on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon when we will be providing full text commentary on the Allianz Football Leagues.



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