Allianz Football League: Opening weekend previews, teams news, throw-in times and TV details

League returns to get the 2024 GAA intercounty season up and running


Division One

Dublin v Monaghan, Croke Park, 7.30 [Live TG4] — Another slog in prospect for Monaghan and of course no certainty that they won’t again preserve their status but they have lost so many players to retirement, travel and exotic sports. Dublin eventually got a grip on them in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final but eight Monaghan panellists from that day, six who played — including their most influential team member, goalkeeper Rory Beggan — won’t be available. The champions are also resting some players but they won’t be down to bare bones like the visitors. Verdict: Dublin

Kerry v Derry, Stack Park, Tralee, 5.30 [Live RTÉ] — Contrasting outcomes last weekend, as Kerry got edged out on penalties by Cork in the McGrath Cup whereas Derry clocked up the first trophy of the Mickey Harte era. Neither will be at full strength given Glen’s All-Ireland exploits and Jack O’Connor’s decision not to rush players back. They devised a cracker at Croke Park last July but in the absence of the Cliffords and Paul Geaney, Kerry’s potential looks more seriously undermined than the Ulster champions and Harte will be pleased to exploit that. Verdict: Derry

Division Two


Armagh v Louth, Box-It Athletic Grounds, 6.0 [Live BBC iPlayer, GAAGO] — One of the favourites for promotion, Armagh will be expected to take care of this neighbourhood rivalry. Kieran McGeeney’s team haven’t shown much of their hand in the “official” matches to date but should hit the ground running. A difficult start for Ger Brennan in Louth and performance rather than outcome will set the tone. Verdict: Armagh

Kildare v Cavan, Netwatch Cullen Park, 5.0 — Two teams acutely aware of the league’s role in determining championship status. Kildare had such a poor campaign last year but revived in the championship whereas Cavan’s season went in the other direction. Under new manager Raymond Galligan, the Ulster side had a serviceable McKenna Cup campaign with Oisín Brady playing really well in attack, whereas Kildare fiddled around and lost to Wexford. A couple of injuries in a recent challenge won’t have helped but there should be an urgency about Kildare this year. Verdict: Kildare

Meath v Fermanagh, Páirc Tailteann, 2.30 — Meath showed some decent potential last year and if few of them grew up dreaming of the Tailteann Cup, it was better to win than not. Shane Walsh’s recovery from injury is a positive and they will have targeted this for points. Fermanagh have lost a few key players from their promotion year and will have their work cut out. Verdict: Meath

Division Four

Laois v Longford, Laois Hire O’Moore Park, 6.0 — Laois should have gone up last year but didn’t and have been joined by O’Byrne Cup experts Longford. The status didn’t help in last year’s league but it gives them a form advantage here against a Laois team still waiting for a first win. Verdict: Longford

Tipperary v Carlow, FBD Semple Stadium, 6.0 — Neither side exactly burst into life during the pre-season but Tipp did manage to chalk up a win but they are missing players, such as Colman Kennedy and Liam McGrath. Carlow have struggled with the league since the Turlough O’Brien promotion six years ago at this stage. Verdict: Tipperary


Division One

Tyrone v Roscommon, O’Neill’s Healy Park, 1.30 [Live TG4] — Roscommon have an energetic new manager and probably need to start well if they are to stabilise and stay put in this division. Davy Burke set himself the task of a thorough trawl of players pre-season despite the relatively late appointment. Tyrone arrive just after a McKenna Cup mauling by Derry, albeit not with their first team but it did feature “access all areas” defending. The visitors desperately need to get back on track after a dismal 2022. They can manage that. Verdict: Tyrone

Galway v Mayo v Galway, Pearse Stadium, 1.45 [Live TG4] — One of last year’s fascinating subplots, as Galway failed to win any of four matches against the neighbours, an unusual sequence in the ancient rivalry. Mayo have no long-term injuries but will be missing James Carr, Pádraig O’Hora and Matt Ruane this weekend. Galway are also short a couple as injuries clear, but key forwards Damien Comer and Shane Walsh, who will be hoping to put last season behind him, are ready to go. There’s also no doubting where the onus lies with the home side keen to set the record straight and more importantly, get the best possible start to the season. Verdict: Galway

Division Two

Donegal v Cork, Ballybofey, 1.45 [Deferred TG4] — Cork arrive in a buoyant mood after retaining the McGrath Cup, beating Kerry in the process. Brian Hurley, in form for Castlehaven, is the new captain and Seán Meehan the vice-captain. Donegal flatlined in the second half against Derry last week but this weekend will shed more light on that. Promotion would be Cork’s best way of maintaining last year’s progress but for the home team, galvanised by Jim McGuinness’s return, promotion is non-negotiable and has to start here. Verdict: Donegal

Division Three

Clare v Sligo, Cusack Park, Ennis, 2.0 — Two divisions separated the teams last year but both made the Sam Maguire. Mark Fitzgerald has a hard act to follow and Colm Collins’s departure has been accompanied by a player exodus, so a major rebuild beckons. Sligo are more settled, as well as graduating the under-20s, and pose a threat. Verdict: Sligo

Offaly v Westmeath, Glenisk O’Connor Park, 2.0 — Declan Kelly takes the reins at senior but could do with some heft to complement the skills. Westmeath campaigned creditably in the Sam Maguire but haven’t always translated that into league form. They look stronger here. Verdict: Westmeath

Wicklow v Down, Aughrim, 2.0 — Down come into the season as hot favourites although they underperformed in the Tailteann final. Nonetheless they look too good for this division and although Wicklow surprised a few teams last year, they are missing influential goalkeeper Mark Jackson, who is at the American football trials. Verdict: Down

Limerick v Antrim, Rathkeale, 12.30 — Limerick found the air in Division Two a bit thin and are also short a pile of last year’s players for various reasons, including recent All-Star nomination Cian Sheahan. Antrim shaped up well last year and if they can improve defensively, could be promotion outsiders. Verdict: Antrim

Division Four

Waterford v Leitrim, Fraher Field, 2.0 — Leitrim went close to promotion last year but endured a demoralising championship. They should be capable of opening this campaign with a win against a Waterford team that perennially struggles. Verdict: Leitrim

London v Wexford, Ruislip, 1.0 — Totemic London captain Liam Gavaghan has retired after 12 years, as Wexford arrive hoping to atone for dropping points in this fixture a year ago. The visitors had a reasonable O’Byrne Cup up until an experimental Dublin filleted them but Wexford manager John Hegarty also cast the net wide. Verdict: Wexford

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Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times