Weekend previews

February 01, 2008
This weekend sees the 2008 NFL kick into action and we look ahead to all the action. Allianz NFL Saturday, February 2nd Division One Tyrone v. Kildare Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney takes his new charges to face his fiercest rivals from his playing days and how he would love to open his account with a win over Tyrone. The news that Stephen O'Neill has retired from inter-county football is a huge blow to the Ulster champions, but they still should prove too strong for the Lilywhites. Verdict: Tyrone Donegal v. Kerry Rumours bound that Pat O'Shea wants to do well in the league and if this is true then all counties beware. Donegal provide the first test for the All-Ireland champions and Ballybofey has become something of a fortress over the years. Kerry could struggle without the 'Gooch' and home advantage could be the telling factor here. Verdict: Donegal Derry v. Mayo Both sides looked impressive during the early season competitions, but Derry struggled against Down and look to still be in heavy training. The Oak Leaf County triumphed when the sides last met and with Paddy Bradley in excellent form, they look set to begin the campaign on a winning note. Verdict: Derry Division Two Dublin v. Westmeath The Dubs recorded a ten-point win over Westmeath in an O'Byrne Cup fixture only a few weeks back and nothing suggests that result will be altered on Saturday night. Tomas O'Flatharta's charges may well be relegation candidates already. Verdict: Dublin Division Three Down v. Sligo The 2008 McKenna Cup winners were impressive throughout that recent campaign and go into the league campaign full of confidence. Sligo have a new manager in place and it may take some time for the side to settle. Down are favourites to come out of this division. Verdict: Down Allianz NFL Sunday, February 3rd Division One Galway v. Laois The loss of five experienced players due to retirement has been a huge blow to Laois and one fears that this could set them back somewhat. New Galway manager Liam Sammon will be eager to continue the winning start to the season and it would take a brave man to bet against the Tribesmen. Verdict: Galway Division Two Armagh v. Cavan The Orchard County are going through a transition period at the moment, although they still have the backbone of the side that has lined out for the last few years. However, they will be without the Crossmaglen contingent for a while yet. They need to gel quickly with the new players coming in. Cavan will provide a stern test; especially if they have everyone fit and this could be one too close too call. Verdict: Draw Monaghan v. Roscommon The Ulster side is tipped to do well this year and many feel they have the credentials to lift the provincial title. If so, they need a good league campaign and a win over a struggling Roscommon side is essential. Verdict: Monaghan Division Three Limerick v. Louth The Wee County make the long journey to Limerick without a number of key players and their form in the O'Byrne Cup suggests that they could struggle in the early part of the league. Mickey Ned's troops will be seeking revenge for last year's defeat in the qualifiers. Verdict: Limerick Leitrim v. Fermanagh All-Star Barry Owens and goalkeeper Niall Tinney are notable absentees from the Fermanagh squad for the start of the league. Manager Malachy O'Rourke has been working hard with the squad over the winter. The same could be said of Dessie Dolan as he embarks on another year with the Connacht side. Fermanagh to win, although it will be very close. Verdict: Fermanagh Wexford v. Longford The Midlanders have really hit the ground running and look to be fitter than the majority of sides in the country at this stage. As always, Mattie Forde will be the main scoring threat for the home side. However, Longford's early season form suggests that they could get off to a good start. Verdict: Longford Division Four Offaly v. London The Faithful County are red hot favourites to gain promotion and London should pose very few threats to that prospect. Niall McNamee will cause the exiles' defence many problems. Verdict: Offaly Kilkenny v. Tipperary The Cats make their long awaited return to the national football league and the general consensus is that they will struggle in their first season back. Tipp begin life without Declan Browne, but should have no problems here. Verdict: Tipperary Wicklow v. Antrim This is a repeat of last year's Tommy Murphy Cup final when Wicklow snatched a late victory. This meeting could well be very close also, although home advantage could swing the match in the Garden County's favour. Verdict: Wicklow Clare v. Carlow The respective managers of these counties will be pleased with their performances so far this year. Clare have already picked up some silverware in the shape of the McGrath Cup and that will be a massive boost to the Banner ahead of the opening league match. Verdict: Clare

Most Read Stories