Football previews: Last call for most counties before championship beckons

Fewer decisions than usual have yet to be made on the last day of the regulation season

Allianz National Football League
Division 2 (Matches at 7.0)

Cavan v Fermanagh, Kingspan Breffni [Live, BBC iPlayer and GAAGO] – One of the pivotal fixtures in the division and, coincidentally, between two teams pretty familiar with each other, who got promoted together last year. Both are also on the rebound from poor results last week. The threat of relegation is particularly hard on Fermanagh who were unbeaten in their first two matches. But Cavan’s bad afternoon against Armagh was more of an outlier. Verdict: Cavan

Cork v Armagh, Páirc Uí Chaoimh – Cork recovered from an awful start to the campaign by hitting a rich vein for the past three matches. Of particular gratification to manager John Cleary has been the resilience to finish strongly. They have been getting scores out of Conor Corbett and platform from wing backs Matty Taylor and Luke Fahy but have struggled for high-proportion conversion rates. Armagh are already promoted but will want to stay unbeaten. Verdict: Armagh

Donegal v Meath, Ballybofey – Meath count as one of the relieved counties after a poor start but they are protected by their status as Tailteann winners in championship terms if not league, although they have navigated that as well. They probably should have done better last week against Cork, having come back into it. Donegal’s steady improvement has got them promoted and they should remain unbeaten. Verdict: Donegal

Kildare v Louth, Netwatch Cullen Park [Live, TG4] – Already relegated, Kildare do have something to play for. A win here would at least reverse the downward momentum and alter the mood for the imminent championship where they have an opening to reach the Leinster final. Louth have had a good campaign and should be safe providing Cavan don’t lose. A backlash can’t be discounted but let’s go with the evidence. Verdict: Louth


Munster U20 FC: Clare v Tipperary, Quilty, 2.0; Limerick v Waterford, Ballyagran, 2.0.

Division 1 (Matches at 1.45)

Derry v Roscommon, Celtic Park – Roscommon will be anxiously scanning Mickey Harte’s selection to see who and how many he intends to rest for this in advance of next week’s league final for which Derry are nearly definitely qualified. The Cathal Heneghan suspension – accepted by the player – is an unhelpful loss given his goalscoring return against Kerry. Davy Burke’s team were spirited but kept at arm’s length. Derry held their nerve in Castlebar for another good win and, even if they rest a few, look likely to win this given that a significantly weakened XV still made Dublin scramble all the way. Verdict: Derry

Dublin v Tyrone, Croke Park – Like Derry, Dublin look set to rest a few first-choice players and in Dessie Farrell’s words “won’t lose too much sleep” should that cost them a place in the league final. That’s not particularly far-fetched given that since they started bulk winning All-Irelands in 2011, Dublin have not beaten Tyrone in a regulation league match at Croke Park. There have been four of them, two draws and two narrow defeats. Tyrone scrapped their way to safety and, although pushed hard by Monaghan a week ago, have improved overall, as Darragh Canavan’s star goes farther into the ascendant. Dublin have been very good recently and surely don’t want to disrupt that trajectory. Verdict: Dublin

Kerry v Galway, Fitzgerald Stadium [Live, TG4] – Aside from the significant difficulty of Jason Foley’s injury, Jack O’Connor was happy with a comprehensive win on the road in Roscommon. Their league prospects look distant unless Tyrone take something from Croke Park but it’s been a decent campaign to date. Joe O’Connor is doing nothing wrong at centrefield as Kerry try to reconstruct the sector. The Cliffords have been themselves. For Pádraic Joyce, the league has been a tightrope walk trying to get to the other side while staying in Division 1 without a handful of his most important players. They will be alert to news from Derry, as on form Kerry look more likely here. Verdict: Kerry

Monaghan v Mayo, Clones – After 10 years, Monaghan take their leave from the top division. Results have stripped them of the opportunity to spring another last-day resurrection but they battled hard in Omagh. Performances have been better in the last couple of outings and, given Kevin McStay’s stated intention to exercise the rights of the disinterested and give lads a run, this might have been an achievable target for the home side, as it proved last year. Verdict: Monaghan

Division 3 (Matches at 2.0)

Antrim v Wicklow, Corrigan Park – Wicklow arrive in Belfast needing a win to be sure of survival but Antrim, although vulnerable to relegation if beaten, have been better to date. Verdict: Antrim

Down v Clare, Páirc Esler, [TG4 app and deferred broadcast] – Mark Fitzgerald has done one of the best jobs in the league by transitioning Clare after so many personnel losses into promotion candidates. It probably ends here but the achievement has been genuine. Verdict: Down

Offaly v Limerick, Glenisk O’Connor Park – To be certain of survival, Offaly need to win this and given Limerick’s season, there’s no reason they won’t. Verdict: Offaly

Sligo v Westmeath, Markievicz Park – Westmeath have tracked Down successfully throughout the campaign and will expect to win this to secure promotion. Verdict: Westmeath

Division 4 (Matches at 1.0)

Carlow v London, Netwatch Cullen Park – Both are out of the promotion race but Carlow will want to finish the season on a positive. Verdict: Carlow

Waterford v Laois, SETU Arena, Carriganore – Laois were caught by Leitrim, which delayed their promotion by a week. They should make up for it here given Waterford’s plight. Verdict: Laois

Wexford v Longford, Chadwicks Wexford Park – The key fixture, as whoever wins will either go up or face a head-to-head with Leitrim if the latter win. Put simply, Wexford, who have been in great recent form, would lose out whereas Longford wouldn’t. Verdict: Wexford

Leitrim v Tipperary, Avant Money Páirc Seán MacDiarmada – If Wexford’s revival has been noteworthy, so has Tipp’s slump. Leitrim have a good shot at promotion if they win this and they should avail of that opportunity. Verdict: Leitrim

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times