Football rankings: How does your county rate?

07 March 2013
It's a new season and we waited until three rounds of the Allianz FL to update our football ratings.

Given that we ended 2012 with Donegal top of the pile and Mayo in second place, our ratings show plenty of change based on what we have seen in the league so far.

There is one proviso though, as there is little disagreement that championship football is a much better indicator of worth rather than the league. With that in mind we will not move a county more than seven places up or down based on their end of year position from 2012. That means that the ranking bears little resemblance to the current placings from Division 1 down to Division 4, although there is a strong correlation in the top grade.

So here is our starting point for 2013.

1. DONEGAL (no change)

They are All-Ireland champions and the team to be shot down. Their league form hasn't been exactly inspiring, but Jim McGuinness isn't likely to be too worried. He has hinted that his priority is the championship and the league is not important. They could still qualify for a Division 1 semi-final place but it would be no surprise if their ranking dropped before the league competition finishes.

2. DUBLIN (up 3)

The form team of the season so far, Dublin have looked hugely impressive on their way to the top of Division 1. A new manager and plenty of new faces bodes well, but the form of Bernard Brogan is the most crucial element of their make-up. He was Footballer of the Year as they claimed Sam two years ago and it was no co-incidence that their flat displays last year came as Brogan's form dipped. He is on fire in the league and the competition's top scorer. That will keep the Dubs faithful in an optimistic mood.

3. MAYO (down 1)

James Horan is in his third year as Mayo boss which means the league doesn't hold the same importance to him as in previous seasons. That said, Mayo's fans would have expected the form that took them within touching distance of last year's All-Ireland to have transferred itself into the league but that has not been the case.

4. CORK (down 1)

League medals are ten a penny down by the Lee as the Rebels claimed the last three Division 1 titles. After failing to match expectations in the last two championship, it would be no surprise if Conor Counihan decided to pace his charges and their league form dipped. A last minute goal in Newry is all that separated then from joining Kerry at the foot of the table, so we will be watching Cork with interest.

5. KILDARE (up 1)

A fresh looking backroom team seems to have worked wonders for Kildare who have won every game so far in 2013 and are on a league winning streak that amounts to nine consecutive matches. Seanie Johnston offers them a clinical finisher up front while the development of Niall Kelly is a real plus

6. TYRONE (up 3)

After a hugely disappointing 2012 on the football field, Tyrone look refreshed in the league. Their wins in Mayo and last weekend against Donegal were impressive, and their point scoring goalkeeper Niall Moran has been such a revelation that Mickey Harte's rotation policy for his 'keepers has come to an end. Some big tests lie ahead and how his new look defence copes will be a real indication of the Red Hands' worth.

7. KERRY (down 2)

Eamonn Fitzmaurice's start to his tenure as Kerry manager has not gone as he would have wished. Three loses on the trot have the Kingdom at the foot of the table and relegation is a word not in the vocabulary of the Munster kingpins.
There were signs against Kildare that there is still plenty of fight in this Kerry side and the performances of Johnny Buckley around the middle have caught the eye.

8. DOWN (no change)

Zero for three is Down's record so far in Division 1 but they were extremely unlucky to lose to Cork in Newry on Sunday. The performance against the Rebels was promising, as is Donal O'Hare's development as a clinical finisher. Having said all that, the trapdoor appears to be waiting for James McCartan's charges unless things improve quickly, starting against Mayo on Saturday.

9. LAOIS (down 1)

All-Ireland quarter-finalists last year, Laois are in the shake up in an ultra competitive Division 2. Putting up big scores is rarely a problem for the O'Moore men but Justin McNulty must be tearing his hair out at their inability to concentrate in defence.

10. WESTMEATH (up 6)

One of the big movers, Pat Flanagan's charges currently lead the way in Division 2 and the point earned in Galway last weekend after a late surge was an indicator of their self belief.
Calum McCormack's development into a forward of real quality and the continuing excellence of John Heslin at midfield gives them options that many Division 1 teams envy.

11. WEXFORD (up 6)

After a good start against Longford, Wexford will be disappointed to have thrown away an eight point lead in Armagh and then give such a blunt attacking display against Derry in round 3. Aidan O'Brien has big shoes to fill and the remainder league fixtures will go a long way to telling us how he is fairing.

12. LONGFORD (up 6)

Longford won't be claiming a third successive promotion after three losses in Division 2. A points difference of -5 shows how close their matches have been and they came very close to getting a result in Armagh on Saturday. Glenn Ryan faces his biggest challenge, but who is to say that he is now focusing on championship 2013?

13. MONAGHAN (up 6)

After two successive league relegations, Malachy O'Rourke has stopped the rot and the Farney County are in contention for a swift return to Division 2. Conor McManus is the key man in attack but Monaghan overcame his loss to see off Sligo last weekend.

14. LIMERICK (down 1)

Maurice Horan's charges sit at the top of Division 4. One of the great mysteries of recent times is why Limerick perform so poorly in the league while digging out big championship performances every year. There is a way to go yet but perhaps Horan has finally answered that question.

15. ANTRIM (down 1)

New manager Frank Dawson got off to a perfect start with a win against high flying Cavan and has also taken a point off Fermanagh. Getting scores flowing through Paddy Cunningham and Tomas McCann is the challenge now.

16. MEATH (down 6)

Only their championship form and the restrictions of our system stop Meath from plummeting down the list, but that may only be a temporary issue if their terrible form continues. Non-performances against Monaghan and Cavan will have Mick O'Dowd a worried man, but it is the absence of any pride in the jersey that is driving supporters crazy. Tough times indeed for the Royals.

17. DERRY (up 6)

Brian McIver has Derry is a better place that they were in 2012 and with a settled squad, they look like real contenders for promotion out of Division 2.

18. TIPPERARY (down 7)

Peter Creedon must have fancied a good league run after his charges progressed to the last round of the All-Ireland qualifiers. It hasn't gone that way as only London separate the Premier from the bottom of Division 4.

19. SLIGO (down 7)

Connacht finalists last year, Sligo have been indifferent in Allianz Division 3, with a terrible display against Monaghan recently. Kevin Walsh is asking many of his charges to go back to the well one more time, and that can't continue forever.

20. GALWAY (up 1)

The great enigmas, Galway have fantastic talent but you just never know what to expect from them when the ball is thrown in. Michael Meehan is still carrying most of the attacking threat with Paul Conroy as an able foil. Midfield is the problem for Alan Mulholland's charges and they won't go anywhere until that issue is fixed.

21. ARMAGH (up 1)

After last year's league and championship, things couldn't get much worse for Armagh but it took until last weekend for Paul Grimley's charges to gain their first win. The return of the Crossmaglen contingent improves them considerably.

22. LEITRIM (down 7)

2013 saw Leitrim earn their first ever Qualifier win and beating Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon on the way the FBD FL title in January was a huge boost ahead of the league. Things didn't go according to plan with defeats in the opening two rounds but a success over high flying Carlow offers real hope.

23. CAVAN (up 2)

Terry Hyland's team appears to be heading in the right direction and impressive wins over Monaghan and Meath have helped them bounce back after a first round loss to Antrim. With the Seanie Johnston issue finally behind them, and Gearoid McKiernan developing into a midfielder of real quality, the Breffni could be on the cusp of resurgence.

24. LOUTH (up 3)

Have recovered well from their opening day defeat to Westmeath but Aidan O'Rourke will need to be given time for Louth to adapt to his master plan. The fact that the new manager has a near full hand to deal from with John O'Brien, Brian Whyte and Mick Fanning all available, means that the Wee County are in a much stronger position than twelve months ago.

25. FERMANAGH (up 3)

Fermanagh sit atop of Division 3 as Peter Canavan concentrates on the league for the second successive season. Sean Quigley, Daryl Keenan and Paul Ward have been on fire in their full forward line and if that trio's form continues, then the Erne men will be a difficult opposition for any side.

26. ROSCOMMON (down 6)

One good display against Armagh was the highlight for the Rossies in 2012 and under John Evans they have high hopes of a swift exit out of Division 3. A draw with Wicklow after a loss in Fermanagh doesn't bode well but spirits could be buoyed when Meath come to town this weekend.

27. CLARE (down 3)

With Micko in charge, Clare are one of the danger teams in Division 4. An opening day loss to Waterford puts them under real pressure but David Tubridy's free taking ability means they are never easily beaten.

28. CARLOW (up 1)

Having defeated the two bottom teams in Division 4, things looked good for Anthony Rainbow's charges before a heavy home defeat to Leitrim put pay to that.

29. WATERFORD (up 3)

Niall Carew's impact as manager has been immediate, as Waterford sit second in Division 4 and have lost just once, by two points to Limerick. Gary Hurney's return strengthens them hugely.

30. WICKLOW (down 4)

The Garden County looked to be out of their depth in Division 3 after two heavy losses in Aughrim, before grabbing a last gasp draw in Dr Hyde Park at the weekend. The absence of Leighton Glynn is a huge blow to Harry Murphy's charges.

31. OFFALY (up 1)

Some good performances in the O'Byrne Cup boded well for manager Emmett McDonnell but the Division 4 campaign has been a bit of a train wreak so far. The Faithful struggled to a win in Ruislip and have followed it up with two reverses against Clare and Limerick.

32. LONDON (down 2)

They pushed both Leitrim and Antrim all the way in last year's championship but that form has not continued in the league where they sit pointless at the bottom of Division 4, with a score difference of minus 16.