Seán O’Brien looks ahead to this weekend’s Allianz Football League games
A total of seven counties are unbeaten as the Allianz Football League heads for Round 4 next weekend. Donegal and Dublin (Division 1), Tyrone (Division 2), Kildare (Division 3), Antrim and Louth (Division 4) have all won their opening three games while Tipperary are also unbeaten, having had two draws and a win.
Mayo and Down (Division 1), Leitrim and London (Division 4) are the only counties still without a point. Westmeath and Limerick are still in search of their first victory but each has drawn once.
Allianz Football League Division 1: Saturday night fever in Croke Park
Saturday: Dublin v Cork, Croke Park, 7pm
Sunday: Roscommon v Down, Dr. Hyde Park, 2pm; Kerry v Donegal, Tralee; 2:30pmpm; Monaghan v Mayo, Clones, 2:30pmpm.
Roscommon and Down were promoted to Division 1 this year and have gone on very different routes, with Roscommon winning two of three games while Down have lost all three (Donegal, Monaghan, Kerry) by a combined total of 35 points. They have scored only 0-24 in three games, compared to Roscommon’s 5-48. Roscommon and Down met twice in Division 2 last year, with the Connacht men winning both (1-15 to 1-11 in the divisional game and 1-17 to 0-15 in the final.
Before that, it’s Cork v Dublin on the double in Croke Park on Saturday evening, with the hurlers meeting in Division 1A at 5.0, followed at 7.0 by the football clash. Dublin and Cork have made contrasting starts to the this year’s Allianz League, with Jim Gavin’s men winning all three games so far (Kerry, Mayo, Monaghan) while Cork have lost twice (Roscommon and Donegal) after beating Mayo in the first round.
This will be the fifth Allianz League meeting between Dublin and Cork in three seasons. In 2014, Cork beat Dublin by 1-17 to 0-18 in the divisional game but lost the semi-final by 2-20 to 2-13. Cork also won the divisional game last year (1-15 to 0-16) but lost the final by 1-21 to 2-7.
Donegal have made their best start to the Allianz League for a long time, beating Down, Cork and Mayo by a combined total of 29 points, setting them up nicely for the clash with Kerry, who took their first points last Sunday, when beating Down. Kerry beat Donegal by two points in last year’s League, having also beaten them in the 2014 All-Ireland final.
Mayo will be away to Monaghan, who have won two of three. Mayo beat Monaghan by 3-15 to 0-11 last year.
Division 2: Tyrone Open Up Lead At Top Of The Table
Saturday: Cavan v Armagh, Kingspan Breffni Park, 7pm; Tyrone v Derry, Omagh, 7pm
Sunday: Fermanagh v Laois, Enniskillen, 2pm; Galway v Meath, Pearse Stadium, 2pm
Tyrone lead the way with three wins in a group where three other Ulster teams, Derry, Cavan, Armagh are in the top five. Galway moved into second place after beating Derry on Sunday.
Tyrone host Derry on Saturday night while Galway will be at home to Meath on Sunday. Derry and Tyrone drew their Allianz League clashes in 2014 and 2-15. Those games were in Division 1 but both counties were relegated to Division 2 at the end of last season. Their last meeting in Division 2 was in 2012 when Tyrone won by 2-15 to 0-9. Derry are the highest scorers in Division 2 on 6-37, a point ahead of Galway on 5-39.
Galway v Meath has produced plenty scores in their last two games with the Royals winning by 3-18 to 4-11 in 2014 while the Tribesmen triumphed by 2-13 to 1-12 last year.
The Cavan-Armagh meeting on Saturday night will be the first Allianz League clash between the counties since 2008. Both had their first win of the Allianz League season last weekend, with Armagh edging to victory over Fermanagh while Cavan staged a great recovery to beat Meath.
Fermanagh v Laois is a bottom-of-the-table clash, albeit that both have two points along with Cavan, Armagh and Meath. This will be the first Laois v Fermanagh Allianz League clash since 2009. Their last championship meeting was in 2014 when Laois won by a point in a qualifier tie in Portlaoise.
Division 3: Kildare Make Rapid Progress Towards Return To Division 2
Sunday: Tipperary v Offaly, Thurles, 12.45pm; Clare v Westmeath, Ennis, 2pm; Kildare v Limerick, Newbridge, 2pm; Sligo v Longford , Markievicz Park; 2:30pm.
Kildare dropped from Divisions 1 to 3 in successive years but have stabilised in Division 3, winning their first three games in their bid for promotion. They are top scorers in the group on 5-32 as they prepare to host bottom-of-the-table Limerick on Sunday. Limerick have taken only one point from their opening three games.
Westmeath are in the same boat as Limerick after losing two and drawing one of three games, leaving them very much in relegation territory rather than the promotion zone which was predicted pre-season. Tom Cribbin’s men head for Ennis to take on second-placed Clare on Sunday.
Tipperary are one of seven unbeaten teams in all divisions, having won once and drawn twice. They host Offaly, who have settled in well (two wins from three games) in Division 3 after being promoted this year. Longford, who were also promoted, have won one of three. They travel to Markievicz Park to take on Sligo who have also won one of three.
Division 4: Louth And Antrim Seek To Main 100 Per Cent Records
Saturday: Waterford v Wexford, Fraher Field, 7pm
Sunday: Leitrim v Louth, Carrick-on-Shannon, 2pm; London v Antrim, Irish TV Grounds, Ruislip, 1pm; Wicklow v Carlow, Aughrim, 2:30pmpm.
Louth, who dropped into Division 4 this year, have made a great start, winning all three games. Antrim have also won their three games, while Wicklow and Wexford are both two points further back.
Antrim travel to Ruislip to take on London, who have lost all three games, while conceding a total of 10-33, the biggest giveaway across all four divisions. Antrim beat London by four points last year. Louth head for Carrick-on-Shannon to take on Leitrim who are still looking for their first win of the campaign.
Wexford, who dropped into Division 4 this year, have won two of three games. They head for Dungarvan to face Waterford who enjoyed their first win of the campaign last Sunday.
It’s Wicklow (4 points) v Carlow (2 points) in Aughrim. The side drew last year while Wicklow won in 2014.
Allianz Football League 2016: Results And Fixtures
Allianz Football League Division 1
Round 1: Dublin 2-14 Kerry 0-14: Donegal 3-15 Down 0-7; Cork 1-18 Mayo 0-12; Monaghan 2-10 Roscommon 1-9.
Round 2: Dublin 0-9 Mayo 0-7; Roscommon 0-14 Kerry 1-10; Donegal 2-14 Cork 1-7; Monaghan 0-13 Down 0-11.
Round 3: Dublin 1-14 Monaghan 0-16; Roscommon 4-25 Cork 3-10; Donegal 1-14 Mayo 1-12; Kerry 0-22 Down 0-6.
Round 4: Mar 5: Dublin v Cork; Mar 6: Roscommon v Down; Kerry v Donegal; Monaghan v Mayo.
Round 5: Mar 12: Down v Dublin; Mar 13: Cork v Monaghan; Mayo v Kerry; Donegal v Roscommon.
Round 6: Mar 26: Dublin v Donegal; Mar 27: Cork v Down; Monaghan v Kerry; Roscommon v Mayo.
Round 7: Apr 3: Kerry v Cork; Mayo v Down; Monaghan v Donegal; Roscommon v Dublin.
Semi-finals: Apr 10: 1 v 4; 2 v 3.
Final: Apr 24
Allianz Football League Division 2
Round 1: Meath 1-10 Armagh 0-8; Tyrone 0-10 Cavan 0-8; Galway 3-12 Laois 1-10; Derry 3-13 Fermanagh 1-9.
Round 2: Laois 1-13 Armagh 0-15; Derry 1-12 Cavan 1-11; Tyrone 1-11 Galway 1-9; Fermanagh 0-10 Meath 0-6.
Round 3: Armagh 1-10 Fermanagh 0-12; Galway 1-18 Derry 2-12; Cavan 1-20 Meath 1-13; Tyrone1-14 Laois 0-14.
Round 4: Mar 5: Cavan v Armagh; Tyrone v Derry; Mar 6: Galway v Meath; Fermanagh v Laois.
Round 5: Mar 12: Fermanagh v Cavan; Mar 13: Laois v Derry; Armagh v Galway; Meath v Tyrone.
Round 6: Mar 26: Tyrone v Armagh; Mar 27: Cavan v Laois; Galway v Fermanagh; Derry v Meath.
Apr 3: Armagh v Derry; Cavan v Galway; Fermanagh v Tyrone; Laois v Meath.
Final: Apr 24: 1 v 2
Allianz Football League Division 3
Round 1: Clare 1-11 Sligo 0-7; Limerick 1-12 Tipperary 2-9; Offaly 0-12 Longford 0-10; Kildare 2-9 Westmeath 0-11.
Round 2: Kildare 1-12 Offaly 1-8; Longford 0-13 Limerick 1-8; Sligo 1-11 Westmeath 1-10; Tipperary 2-7 Clare 1-7.
Round 3: Kildare 2-11 Longford 0-10; Offaly 1-13 Sligo 0-14; Westmeath 0-11 Tipperary 1-8; Clare 1-14 Limerick 0-11.
Round 4: Mar 6: Tipperary v Offaly; Clare v Westmeath; Kildare v Limerick; Sligo v Longford.
Round 5: Mar 12: Limerick v Westmeath; Mar 13: Kildare v Sligo; Longford v Tipperary; Offaly v Clare.
Round 6: Mar 27: Clare v Longford; Sligo v Limerick; Westmeath v Offaly; Tipperary v Kildare.
Round 7: Apr 3: Kildare v Clare; Limerick v Offaly; Longford v Westmeath; Sligo v Tipperary.
Allianz Football League Division 4
Round 1: Louth 2-9 London 0-9; Antrim 1-12 Carlow 0-10; Wexford 0-14 Leitrim 1-10; Wicklow 0-13 Waterford 1-8.
Round 2: Carlow 4-4 London 1-11; Antrim 1-8 Wexford 0-7; Louth 1-10 Waterford 1-9; Wicklow 0-10 Leitrim 1-6
Round 3: Wexford 4-20 London 1-6; Antrim 2-14 Leitrim 0-10; Waterford 3-15 Carlow 0-15; Louth 0-15 Wicklow 1-2.
Round 4: Mar 5: Waterford v Wexford; Mar 6: Leitrim v Louth; London v Antrim; Wicklow v Carlow.
Round 5: Mar 13: London v Leitrim; Antrim v Waterford; Carlow v Louth; Wexford v Wicklow.
Round 6: Mar 27: Waterford v London; Leitrim v Carlow; Louth v Wexford; Wicklow v Antrim.
Round 7: Apr 3: Antrim v Louth; London v Wicklow; Waterford v Leitrim; Wexford v Carlow.