Football

Allianz Football League round seven

Plenty still to be decided on final weekend

Paudie Clifford and Jack Glynn
Paudie Clifford and Jack Glynn Kerry and Galway meet in a repeat of the 2022 All-Ireland final

SATURDAY

DIVISION TWO (7pm)

Cavan v Fermanagh (Kingspan Breffni, live on BBC iPlayer)

Odds H: 1/3 D: 8/1 A: 3/1

Verdict Cavan

Cork v Armagh (Supervalu Páirc Uí Chaoimh)

Odds H: 10/11 D: 15/2 A: 11/10

Verdict Cork

Donegal v Meath (Páirc Sean Mac Cumhaill)

Odds H: 4/9 D: 15/2 A: 9/4

Verdict Donegal

Kildare v Louth (Netwatch Cullen Park, live on TG4)

KILDARE’S condemnation to relegation was almost like having the family dog put down. His best days are behind him, even if it pains you to admit it. It’s incredibly sad in one sense, but equally he couldn’t go on living in agony anymore.

Now the Lilywhites face an almighty task if they are to avoid the nausea-inducing grasp of the Tailteann Cup.

The Donegal defeat was a much improved performance however. Kildare’s quality that flickered through the early spring was finally on display for sustained periods.

With Louth making the trip to Carlow, that will give them much inspiration to finish a dismal campaign on a high.

What’s more, the Leinster Championship could well see a rematch of this fixture at the semi-final stage if all goes to plan.

Louth can still go down in defeat, so this is far from a dead-rubber, but surely we’ll see a kick in Kildare.

Odds H: 7/4 D: 13/2 A: 8/13

Verdict Kildare

SUNDAY

DIVISION ONE (1.45pm)

Derry v Roscommon (Celtic Park)

Odds H: 4/11 D: 8/1 A: 11/4

Verdict Derry

Dublin v Tyrone (Croke Park)

Odds H: 1/5 D: 10/1 A: 9/2

Verdict Dublin

Kerry v Galway (Fitzgerald Stadium, live on TG4)

WITH all the talk of the relevance and importance (or otherwise) of league finals, former Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice described The Kingdom’s own league as “strange” this week.

The historic success of his native county does perhaps render their campaign bizarre, given the fact they require Tyrone and Roscommon wins as well as an unlikely swing in score differential to make the league final.

It would be interesting to hear what Jack O’Connor really thinks of what looks to be a silverless spring, but if you asked the man at the helm what colour the sky is, he’d tell you he doesn’t know.

One huge bonus has been the form of Seán O’Shea, something O’Connor himself can’t deny. The Irish News’ Cahair O’Kane makes it 27 per cent of Kerry’s scores that the Kenmare man has fired.

Jason Foley is a huge loss at full-back, something Galway will be keen to take advantage of to erase their own fears of relegation.

Their biggest stars of 2022 were the central spine of Seán Kelly, John Daly, Cillian McDaid, Shane Walsh and Damien Comer. Of those, it’s only Daly who has played consistently, never mind performed consistently.

A win for the Tribesmen could turn their season around, but even if they stay up in defeat, they don’t look anything near All-Ireland contenders right now.

Odds H: 1/4 D: 9/1 A: 7/2

Verdict Kerry

Monaghan v Mayo (St Tiernach’s Park)

Odds H: 15/8 D: 15/2 A: 8/15

Verdict Mayo

DIVISION THREE (2pm)

Antrim v Wicklow (Corrigan Park)

Odds H: 2/7 D: 17/2 A: 10/3

Verdict Antrim

Down v Clare (Páirc Esler, live on Sport TG4; deferred coverage on TG4)

Odds H: 1/5 D: 9/1 A: 9/2

Verdict Down

Offaly v Limerick (Glenisk O’Connor Park)

ONE win from six isn’t what the Faithful would have anticipated at this point. Even still, a home tie against Division 3′s basement side isn’t exactly leaving them with a mountain to climb.

A win would secure their place in the third tier for 2025, and you wouldn’t bet against it given the fact Limerick are hardly tearing up any trees themselves.

The Treaty joined Monaghan and Kildare in being relegated last weekend, with promotion to Division Two for 2023 feeling like an awfully long time ago.

Odds H: 1/6 D: 10/1 A: 5/1

Verdict Offaly

Sligo v Westmeath (Markiewicz Park)

TONY McEntee clearly saw something in this Sligo team. On their run to the Tailteann semis two years ago, much of the country did too.

Seán Carrabine is a Rolls-Royce of a player, while a draw with Offaly was a hugely credible result considering Pat Spillane and former AFL man Luke Towey didn’t register a minute between them.

Westmeath have laboured to wins rather than set the world alight. Expect this to be close, but Westmeath to do enough.

Odds H: 5/2 D: 15/2 A: 2/5

Verdict Westmeath

DIVISION FOUR (1pm)

Carlow v London (Netwatch Cullen Park)

WHO would have thought this one would miss out on selection for televised matches?

Carlow are out of the promotion race after last week’s 0-14 0-08 loss to Longford.

London are statistically the second poorest team across the NFL Divisions.

Whatever happens here, it won’t be the talk of London town. It probably won’t even be the talk of Carlow town.

Odds H: 1/3 D: 15/2 A: 3/1

Verdict Carlow

Leitrim v Tipperary (Avant Money Páirc Seán MacDiarmada)

THIS is a defining point of Andy Moran’s Leitrim tenure. Although a win wouldn’t secure promotion for definite, it’s nothing other than a must-win.

Keith Beirne’s decision to step aside for 2024 could have been devastating, with the 26-year-old accounting for a staggering 5-52 in last year’s league.

Young gun Ryan O’Rourke has continued to show his quality however, while Darragh Rooney kicked a vital 0-4 against Laois.

Tipperary have been frustratingly inconsistent. A draw with Waterford and hiding at home to Wexford were borderline embarrassing for a side that won Munster just four years ago.

Odds H; 2/7 D: 8/1 A: 7/2

Verdict Leitrim

Waterford v Laois (SETU Arena, Carriganore)

Waterford’s footballers haven’t had an easy ride of late. No wins from six in the bottom tier wouldn’t exactly inspire the next generation to put down their hurls.

That said, they have been close in numerous matches. Their winless Tailteann Cup campaign in 2023 also looks a bit better on reflection. Eventual finalists Down and Meath were both in their group, while Munster rivals Tipperary only beat them by the minimum.

For their part, Laois will be a bit miffed having lost their 100 per cent record against Leitrim. Justin McNulty’s men will bite back here.

Odds H: 10/1 D: 20/1 A: 1/33

Verdict Laois

Wexford v Longford (Chadwicks Wexford Park)

IT seems strange to think of any Wexford man cheering on Tipperary, but any chance the Leinster side have of gaining promotion essentially rests in Premier hands.

Ironically, Tipp’s opponents Leitrim need a Wexford win or draw themselves. It’s only these kind of permutations that abandon rivalry. Depending on favours is a position no one wants to be in, but here we are. It’s the final round of the National League.

A tricky home fixture against Longford will bring a level of pressure that this side would not be overly accustomed to. The days of Mattie Forde are long gone. They’d take PJ Banville in a heartbeat these days.

Bruce Springsteen isn’t exactly belting out ‘Glory Days’ around Granard or Ballymahon either, but Longford might well squeeze out a win, one that could see them promoted.

Odds H: 10/11 D: 7/1 A: 11/10

Verdict Longford