Allianz National Football League – Division 1
Donegal v Laois
Two sides that did not get off to the best of starts last weekend have an opportunity to get their campaigns back on track when they meet in Letterkenny on Sunday.
Although Donegal were slight favourites going into their clash with Down last weekend but in a rip-roaring encounter, they were eventually forced to play second fiddle to their Ulster rivals, losing by 1-10 to 1-9.
With so many regular players unavailable to Jim McGuinness, the league is bound to give several unfamiliar names an opportunity to stake a claim for a more regular place in the team. So far, the experimentation has not being going to plan and with four competitive games played already this year, Donegal are still to win a game.
In many ways, the key to Donegal’s style of play is their two man full-forward line of Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden. Last weekend, Stephen Griffin and Paddy McBrearty played in the full-forward line but one expects that a place will be found for Dermot Molloy this weekend as he impressed following his introduction in Newry last week. However, McGuinness’ injury worries do not stop at Murphy and McFadden as the player who was at the centre of the tug of war with DCU, Martin McElhinney is also unavailable after picking up an ankle injury.
Laois supporters were very disappointed with their sides performance at home to Mayo last weekend and the players will be hoping to bounce back immediately this weekend. Manager Justin McNulty admitted afterwards that the players did not do themselves justice but he did take some positives from the amount of chances they created.
If Laois are to get anything out of this game, they will have to improve in front of goal and require a greater spread of scorers. Last week, 6 of their 8 points came from the Arles-Kilcruise of Ross Munnelly and David Conway. Since stepping into the role of Laois manager, McNulty has been trying to impose his defensive style of play on the team and so far, he appears to be meeting some resistance from within the county, with supporters looking for a more open game plan.
Last year, both of these sides got promoted from division 2 and met twice during the campaign. In the league section, Laois were the winners but when the sides met again in the league final, Dongeal ran out comfortable winners. I expect the Ulster champions to win again this weekend.
Donegal team is not yet named
Laois: E Culliton; C Healy, K Lillis, P O’Leary; D Strong, J O’Loughlin, C Boyle; K Meaney, B Quigley; R Munnelly, C Begley, D O’Connor; P Cahillane, P Clancy, D Conway