It’s on to Round two of the Allianz Football League next weekend after the opening series of games delivered several very interesting results, which suggests that an extremely competitive campaign is in store across all four Divisions over the coming months.
Fifteen games were played last weekend – the London v Fermanagh Division 4 clash was called off due to the bad weather in London. Of the 15 games played, nine were home wins, four were away wins, one game was drawn while the Kildare v Tyrone game was played at a neutral venue (Croke Park)
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 1: EARLY PRESSURE ON ALL-IRELAND CHAMPIONS
Saturday: Mayo v Dublin, Castlebar, 6.30; Kerry v Armagh, Tralee, 7.0.
Sunday: Cork v Down, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 2.0; Donegal v Laois, Letterkenny, 2.30.
A draw for Cork, the defending Division 1 champions and a defeat for Dublin, the All-Ireland champions and 2011 League runners-up. Lively starts for Kerry and Mayo while Down won their first battle with Ulster opposition.
Those were the headlines from an exciting opening weekend where the highlight was the Croke Park double-header which drew a crowd of 45,838. They saw Kerry beat Dublin by six points in Division 1, while Tyrone had five points to spare over Kildare in a Division 2 clash.
With four of their remaining six games at home, Kerry are already in a comfortable position as they look forward to hosting Armagh on Saturday night. Armagh dug out a good draw against Cork last Sunday but now face a trip to Tralee, which in never an easy place to take points off Kerry. Dublin must travel to Castlebar to take on Mayo, who looked most impressive when beating Laois on Saturday.
Last year’s Dublin-Mayo clash produced a high-scoring thriller in Croke Park, which Dublin won by 4-15 to 3-13. Down travel to Cork, who beat them comfortably in League and Championship last year, while Letterkenny hosts the clash of promoted sides, Donegal and Laois, both of whom were beaten last weekend. It makes next Sunday’s game a really crucial affair as losing the first two games is always a blow to any side, let alone promoted teams who are trying to settle in at a higher level.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 2: EARLY PROMISE BY TYRONE, MEATH, GALWAY, LOUTH
Sunday (2.30): Westmeath v Meath, Mullingar; Monaghan v Kildare, Clones; Tyrone v Derry, Omagh; Galway v Louth, Pearse Stadium.
Wins for Meath, Tyrone, Galway and Louth last weekend will leave all four in optimistic mood as they head into Round 2. Tyrone and Galway will be especially pleased as they beat Kildare and Derry respectively in Croke Park and Celtic Park, which leaves them in a good position as they stage their first home ties next Sunday.
Tyrone put 2-11 past Kildare and now take on Derry, whom they beat by three points in the recent Dr. McKenna Cup final while Galway, who hit Derry for 1-15 last Sunday, host Louth. Monaghan and Kildare both lost last weekend which makes their clash in Clones hugely important in promotion terms as the losers would almost certainly have to win all five remaining games to have any chance of being in the top two. Meath managed just one win in last year’s League but have already matched that after an impressive victory over Monaghan which sets them up nicely for the visit to Mullingar to take on Westmeath who lost to Louth last Sunday.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 3: HIGH-SCORING STARTS FOR LONGFORD & WEXFORD
Saturday (7.0); Cavan v Longford, Kingspan Breffni Park.
Sunday (2.30): Sligo v Wexford, Markievicz Park; Offaly v Roscommon, O’Connor Park; Tipperary v Antrim, Thurles.
High-scoring was the order of the day for Wexford and Longford, both of whom returned 21 points totals last Sunday. Sean McCormack scored 0-10 as Longford hit Offaly for 2-15 while Eric Bradley (2-0), Ciaran Lyng and PJ Banville (1-1 each) were on form for Wexford who put 4-9 past Cavan.
Both Longford (v Cavan) and Wexford (v Sligo) will be away next weekend. Sligo came away from Casement Park v disappointed last Saturday night after losing by a point to Antrim. The Ulster men travel to Thurles next Sunday to take on Tipperary who lost by three points to Roscommon in the first round. After losing heavily to Kildare in the O’Byrne Cup and to Longford in the League last Sunday, Offaly face a real test of character in their first home game against Roscommon.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 4: CLARE, LIMERICK CHASE TOP SPOT
Saturday: Waterford v Kilkenny, Dungarvan, 7.0.
Sunday (2.30 unless stated): Limerick v London, Gaelic Grounds 1.0; Carlow v Leitrim, Dr. Cullen Park; Fermanagh v Clare, Enniskillen.
Wicklow were the Division’s top scorers last weekend, putting 3-25 past Kilkenny with Joe Kelly scoring 1-7 and Seanie Furlong 1-5. They have a bye next weekend which gives Clare and Limerick a chance to set the early pace. Both won last weekend and will now take on London (Limerick) and Fermanagh (Clare) next Sunday. Fermanagh’s game with London was postponed last Sunday because of the bad weather in England but will be looking forward to their first home tie against the Banner men. Carlow, who had a bye last Sunday, make their seasonal debut at home to Leitrim.
2012 ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE: RESULTS AND FIXTURES
Round 1: Feb 4: Kerry 1-14 Dublin 0-11; Mayo 1-11 Laois 0-8; Down 1-10 Donegal 1-9; Feb 5: Armagh 0-10 Cork 1-7.
Round 2: Next Saturday: Mayo v Dublin; Kerry v Armagh; Next Sunday: Donegal v Laois; Cork v Down.
Round 3: Mar 3: Armagh v Mayo; Laois v Dublin; Mar 4: Donegal v Cork; Down v Kerry.
Round 4: Mar 10: Cork v Laois; Mar 11: Dublin v Armagh; Kerry v Donegal; Mayo v Down.
Round 5: Mar 18: Cork v Kerry; Down v Dublin; Laois v Armagh; Donegal v Mayo.
Round 6: Mar 24: Dublin v Donegal; Armagh v Down; Mar 25: Kerry v Laois; Mayo v Cork.
Round 7: Apr 8: Laois v Down; Kerry v Mayo; Cork v Dublin; Donegal v Armagh.
Semi-finals: Apr 15.
Final: April 29
Round 1: Feb 4: Tyrone 2-11 Kildare 0-12; Meath 1-15 Monaghan 1-9; Feb 5: Galway 1-15 Derry 1-11; Louth 0-12 Westmeath 1-6.
Round 2: Next Sunday: Westmeath v Meath; Monaghan v Kildare; Tyrone v Derry; Galway v Louth.
Round 3: Mar 3: Derry v Monaghan; Meath v Kildare; Mar 4: Westmeath v Galway; Louth v Tyrone.
Round 4: Mar 10: Tyrone v Westmeath; Mar 11: Monaghan v Louth; Galway v Meath; Kildare v Derry.
Round 5: Mar 18: Westmeath v Monaghan; Meath v Derry; Louth v Kildare; Galway v Tyrone.
Round 6: Mar 24: Tyrone v Meath; Mar 25: Derry v Louth; Monaghan v Galway; Kildare v Westmeath.
Round 7: Apr 8: Westmeath v Derry; Meath v Louth; Tyrone v Monaghan; Galway v Kildare.
Final: April 29
Round 1: Feb 4: Antrim 0-13 Sligo 0-12; Feb 5: Longford 2-15 Offaly 0-8, Wexford 4-9 Cavan 1-13; Roscommon 1-12 Tipperary 0-12.
Round 2: Next Saturday: Cavan v Longford; Next Sunday: Offaly v Roscommon; Tipperary v Antrim; Sligo v Wexford.
Round 3: Mar 3: Antrim v Offaly; Cavan v Sligo; Mar 4: Longford v Roscommon, Wexford v Tipperary.
Round 4: Mar 11: Tipperary v Cavan; Offaly v Wexford; Sligo v Longford; Roscommon v Antrim.
Round 5: Mar 18: Cavan v Offaly; Longford v Antrim; Wexford v Roscommon; Sligo v Tipperary.
Round 6: Mar 24: Tipperary v Longford; Mar 25: Antrim v Wexford; Offaly v Sligo; Roscommon v Cavan.
Round 7: April 8: Cavan v Antrim; Longford v Wexford; Tipperary v Offaly; Sligo v Roscommon.
Final: Saturday, April 28
Round 1: Sunday: Clare 1-17 Waterford 0-12; Wicklow 3-25 Kilkenny 1-1; Limerick 1-9 Leitrim 0-9; London v Fermanagh – Postponed; Carlow (bye)
Round 2: Feb 11: Waterford v Kilkenny; Feb 12: Limerick v London; Carlow v Leitrim; Fermanagh v Clare; Wicklow (bye)
Round 3: Mar 4: Clare v Limerick; Wicklow v Waterford; Kilkenny v Fermanagh; London v Carlow; Leitrim (bye).
Round 4: Mar 10: Limerick v Kilkenny; Mar 11: Fermanagh v Wicklow; Carlow v Clare; Leitrim v London; Waterford (bye)
Round 5: Mar 18: Wicklow v Limerick; Kilkenny v Carlow; Waterford v Fermanagh; Clare v Leitrim; London (bye)
Round 6: Mar 24: Limerick v Waterford; Mar 25:Leitrim v Kilkenny; London v Clare; Carlow v Wicklow; Fermanagh (bye)
Round 7: Mar 31: Waterford v Carlow; Apr 1: Wicklow v Leitrim; Kilkenny v London; Fermanagh v Limerick; Clare (bye)
Round 8: Apr 8: Carlow v Fermanagh; London v Wicklow; Leitrim v Waterford; Clare v Kilkenny; Limerick (bye)
Round 9: Apr 15: Fermanagh v Leitrim; Waterford v London; Limerick v Carlow; Wicklow v Clare; Kilkenny (bye).
Final: Saturday, April 28