McGrath to open up against Down again
PETE McGrath’s first National League game in charge of Louth will be against his native Down.
The two-time All-Ireland winning ex-Mourne boss has taken over in the Wee County, who have secured successive promotions to the second tier, and the sides are due to meet on the opening weekend.
McGrath has managed against his native county a number of times, including the opening round of the League this year where his Fermanagh side were impressive winners in Newry.
The GAA’s draft list of National League fixtures has been circulated to counties in recent days and while times and dates of the games may change, it is unlikely that the run of fixtures will be altered.
Dublin’s bid to regain the National League title next spring will see them travail to Ulster just once, for an early-season test at Healy Park.
The Dubs missed out on the crown last year for the first time since 2012 after losing the decider to Kerry, who will also finish their campaign in Omagh.
Tyrone do face a tough campaign with four away ties, including a Clones meeting with Ulster rivals Monaghan and a visit to beaten All-Ireland finalists Mayo, against whom they have a poor record.
Donegal also have four away games, starting off with a trip to Kerry and including a visit to Croke Park, which is where Monaghan will finish their campaign on March 25.
Cavan will host Down in the one all-Ulster Division Two clash, with the Breffnimen aiming to regain a seat at the top table after their relegation last year.
In Division Three, all three Ulster sides will be hopeful of promotion but all three will be wary of finishing their campaigns away from home.
Fermanagh will travel to Longford, Derry will go to Sligo and Armagh will be in Wexford on the final Sunday.
The Oak Leafers face perhaps the toughest schedule of the three as they have to travel away to both Brewster Park and the Athletic Grounds on successive weeks.
Lenny Harbinson’s task in trying to lift Antrim back off the bottom rung looks tricky, with trips to Waterford, Laois, London and Limerick among a difficult set of fixtures.
The National Leagues will begin earlier this year, throwing in on the final weekend in January and will have no semi-finals, with the finals set for the weekend of Sunday 1 April.
2018 Allianz National Football League Division One
Saturday 27 January: Dublin v Kildare
Sunday 28 January: Galway v Tyrone, Kerry v Donegal, Monaghan v Mayo
Saturday 3 February: Mayo v Kerry, Tyrone v Dublin
Sunday 4 February: Donegal v Galway, Kildare v Monaghan
Saturday 10 February: Dublin v Donegal
Sunday 11 February: Galway v Mayo, Kildare v Tyrone, Monaghan v Kerry
Saturday 24 February: Mayo v Dublin, Monaghan v Tyrone
Sunday 25 February: Donegal v Kildare, Kerry v Galway
Saturday 3 March: Dublin v Kerry, Tyrone v Donegal
Sunday 4 March: Galway v Monaghan, Kildare v Mayo
Saturday 17 March: Mayo v Tyrone
Sunday 18 March: Galway v Dublin, Kerry v Kildare, Monaghan v Donegal
Sunday 25 March: Donegal v Mayo, Dublin v Monaghan, Kildare v Galway, Tyrone v Kerry
2018 Allianz National Football League Division Two
Saturday 27 January: Cork v Tipperary
Sunday 28 January: Clare v Cavan, Louth v Down, Roscommon v Meath
Saturday 3 February: Cavan v Louth, Tipperary v Roscommon
Sunday 4 February: Down v Cork, Meath v Clare
Saturday 10 February: Cavan v Meath
Sunday 11 February: Clare v Tipperary, Cork v Louth, Roscommon v Down
Sunday 25 February: Cork v Cavan, Down v Clare, Louth v Roscommon, Tipperary v Meath
Saturday 3 March: Cavan v Down
Sunday 4 March: Clare v Roscommon, Meath v Cork, Tipperary v Louth
Saturday 17 March: Cork v Clare
Sunday 18 March: Down v Tipperary, Louth v Meath, Roscommon v Cavan
Sunday 25 March: Cavan v Tipperary, Clare v Louth, Meath v Down, Roscommon v Cork
2018 Allianz National Football League Division Three
Sunday 28 January: Armagh v Sligo, Derry v Westmeath, Fermanagh v Wexford, Offaly v Longford
Sunday 4 February: Fermanagh v Offaly, Longford v Derry, Sligo v Wexford, Westmeath v Armagh
Sunday 11 February: Armagh v Longford, Derry v Offaly, Sligo v Fermanagh, Wexford v Westmeath
Saturday 24 February: Fermanagh v Derry
Sunday 25 February: Longford v Wexford, Offaly v Armagh, Westmeath v Sligo
Saturday 3 March: Armagh v Derry
Sunday 4 March: Sligo v Longford, Westmeath v Fermanagh, Wexford v Offaly
Saturday 17 March: Fermanagh v Armagh
Sunday 18 March: Derry v Wexford, Longford v Westmeath, Offaly v Sligo
Sunday 25 March: Longford v Fermanagh, Sligo v Derry, Westmeath v Offaly, Wexford v Armagh
2018 Allianz National Football League Division Four
Saturday 27 January: Laois v Limerick, London v Carlow
Sunday 28 January: Antrim v Leitrim, Wicklow v Waterford
Sunday 4 February: Leitrim v Laois, Limerick v Carlow, London v Wicklow, Waterford v Antrim
Saturday 10 February: Laois v Waterford
Sunday 11 February: Antrim v Wicklow, Carlow v Leitrim, London v Limerick
Sunday 25 February: Leitrim v Limerick, Waterford v Carlow, Wicklow v Laois, London v Antrim
Saturday 3 March: Carlow v Wicklow, London v Leitrim
Sunday 4 March: Laois v Antrim, Limerick v Waterford
Sunday 11 March: London v Laois
Sunday 18 March: Antrim v Carlow, Waterford v Leitrim, Wexford v Limerick
Sunday 25 March: Carlow v Laois, Leitrim v Wicklow, Limerick v Antrim, London v Waterford