Next Saturday and Sunday features another full programme as the battle for the top prizes (plus avoiding relegation) gathers momentum.
Its down to five, Louth’s unbeaten run ended last Sunday when losing to Offaly in Division 3, leaving Dublin, Donegal, Longford, Wicklow and Roscommon as the only unbeaten teams in the Allianz Football League after four rounds in the top three Divisions and five rounds in Division 4.
DIVISION 1: DUBLIN EDGING CLOSER TO BOOKING PLACE IN THE FINAL
Saturday: Down v Monaghan, Newry (7.30) (Setanta).
Sunday (2.30): Galway v Cork, Pearse Stadium; Dublin v Mayo, Croke Park (TG4); Armagh v Kerry, Athletic Grounds.
Dublin are within touching distance of a place in the Division 1 final for the first time since 1999 after picking up full points from their opening four games. Ten points was enough for Cork to reach the final last year (Dublin also had ten points but lost out to the Leesiders on scoring difference) and judging by the shape of this year’s table, it could well be enough again.
Dublin take their bid for a place in the final back to Croke Park next Sunday when they play Mayo who, unlike last year when they won six of seven games, are very close to the relegation zone. Mayo have taken three of a possible eight points so far. Dublin, who had their closest call so far when beating Monaghan by a point last Sunday, beat Mayo by a point last year.
Defending All-Ireland and Allianz League champions, Cork are tucked in just behind Dublin on six points as they head to Pearse Stadium to take on Galway who, together with Kilkenny, are the only teams in all four Divisions who are still waiting for their first point. Cork beat Galway by two points last year (1-19 to 1-17).
Down are in third place (five points) as they return to Newry to take on Monaghan who have one win from four games which leaves them second last on the table. It has been a frustrating campaign for Monaghan who lost to Armagh and Dublin by a point.
Armagh and Kerry are on four points so both need a win when they clash in the Athletic Grounds on Sunday if they are to stay in the hunt for a place in the final.
DIVISION 2: PROMOTION RACE VERY TIGHT IN COMPETITIVE GROUP
Saturday (7.30): Derry v Donegal, Celtic Park (Setanta); Laois v Tyrone, Portlaoise.
Sunday: Kildare v Meath, Newbridge, 2.30; Antrim v Sligo, Casement Park, 1.30.
It was always going to be a very competitive group and so it’s proving. Only five points separate top (Laois, Donegal, Derry on 6pts) from bottom (Sligo on 1 pt) as the group heads for Round 5 next weekend.
First up on Saturday night is Derry v Donegal and Laois v Tyrone, two games which will have a serious bearing the promotion issue. Donegal (+13pts) have a better scoring record than Derry (-8pts) but must travel to Celtic Park which increases the size of the challenge.
Laois lost (to Kildare) for the first time in this year’s League last Sunday and will be hoping for a quick return to winning ways at home to Tyrone on Saturday night. Tyrone are on four points so it’s crucial for them to pick up both points if they are to be in a chance of staying the hunt for promotion to Division 1, from where they were relegated last year. Kildare (5pts) also need to win to keep in the promotion race when they host Meath in Newbridge on Sunday. Meath’s problems are in the other direction as they find themselves in the relegation zone after winning just one of four games so far. Meath beat Kildare (1-15 to 0-13) in last year’s Div 2 League clash but Kildare gained revenge in the All-Ireland quarter-final, winning by 2-17 to 1-12. Antrim (2pts) host Sligo (1pt) in a bottom of the table in Casement Park in a game which is vital for both in their battle to avoid dropping down to Division 3. Both were promoted last year. A defeat for Sligo, in particular, would leave Kevin Walsh’s squad very close to the drop.
DIVISION 3: WEXFORD, LOUTH, OFFALY LEAD THE WAY
Sunday (2.30): Louth v Limerick, Drogheda; Westmeath v Waterford, Mullingar; Offaly v Tipperary, Tullamore; Wexford v Cavan, Wexford Park.
Wexford lost out on scoring difference in the promotion race last year but are back in strong contention after moving to the top of the table (on scoring difference) when beating Westmeath last Sunday. They are on six points with Louth and Offaly with Waterford in fourth place on four points.
The top three will all have home advantage as they seek to stay in the promotion race. Wexford lost to Cavan by five points last year. Louth, who lost their unbeaten run when losing to Offaly by a point last Sunday, host Limerick who ended their barren run with a first win of the League season against Cavan last Sunday. Offaly will be at home to Tipperary, now bottom of table on scoring difference. Tipperary who were relegated from Division 2 last year badly need a win to give themselves a decent chance of avoiding the drop for a second successive year.
Westmeath, who dropped from Divisions 1 to 3 in successive seasons, are third bottom which leaves them at risk of being relegated to Division 4. They will be at home to Waterford as they chase what would only their second win in 19 League games.
A Waterford win would keep them very much in the promotion race.
DIVISION 4: ONLY FIVE POINTS SEPARATE TOP SEVEN
Saturday (2.30): Clare v Roscommon, Ennis; Leitrim v Fermanagh, Carrick-on-Shannon; Kilkenny v Wicklow, Castlecomer.
Only four points separate the top seven teams in what is a fascinating battle for promotion. Longford, Wicklow and Roscommon are all unbeaten but Wicklow have dropped three points in draws while Longford have had two draws and Roscommon one.
Longford (8pts) aren’t in action this weekend which gives Wicklow and Roscommon (each on seven points) the chance of overtake them. Roscommon travel to Clare, who are on four points, while Wicklow head for Nowlan Park where they will be hot favourites to beat Kilkenny who have conceded 14-97 in their five games so far. Meanwhile, it’s Leitrim (4pts) v Fermanagh (3points) in Carrick-on-Shannon where the winners will re-join the promotion race.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE 2011: RESULTS & FIXTURES
Round 1: Dublin 2-12 Armagh 1-11; Mayo 1-13 Down 3-7; Cork 0-17 Kerry 1-13; Monaghan 0-19 Galway 0-14.
Round 2: Dublin 3-13 Cork 0-16; Kerry 1-9 Mayo 0-8; Armagh 1-11 Monaghan 0-13; Down 2-11 Galway 1-9.
Round 3: Down 0-12 Armagh 0-11; Dublin 3-10 Kerry 1-15; Cork 1-15 Monaghan 1-12; Mayo 2-14 Galway 0-12.
Round 4: Cork 3-17 Down 0-15; Armagh 2-10 Mayo 1-10; Dublin 0-13 Monaghan 1-9; Kerry 0-16 Galway 0-8.
Round 5: Mar 19 (Sat): Down v Monaghan; Mar 20 (Sun): Galway v Cork; Armagh v Kerry; Dublin v Mayo.
Round 6: Apr 2 (Sat): Dublin v Down; Apr 3 (Sun): Monaghan v Kerry; Mayo v Cork; Armagh v Galway.
Round 7: Apr 10 (Sun); Monaghan v Mayo; Kerry v Down; Galway v Dublin; Cork v Armagh.
Apr 24: Final.
Round 1: Laois 1-14 Meath 1-11; Donegal 2-11 Sligo 1-14; Kildare 1-17 Antrim 0-11; Derry 1-11 Tyrone 0-13.
Round 2: Donegal 1-10 Tyrone 0-6; Derry 0-13 Kildare 0-11; Meath 1-12 Sligo 0-8; Laois 1-12 Antrim 0-10.
Round 3: Antrim 0-14 Meath 0-11; Tyrone 2-15 Sligo 0-15; Donegal 0-8 Kildare 1-5; Laois 1-21 Derry 1-7.
Round 4: Tyrone 1-16 Antrim 1-11; Donegal 0-15 Meath 0-9; Kildare 1-13 Laois 1-11; Derry 0-11 Sligo 0-8.
Round 5: Mar 19 (Sat): Derry v Donegal; Laois v Tyrone; Mar 20 (Sun): Kildare v Meath; Antrim v Sligo.
Round 6: Apr 3 (Sun): Donegal v Antrim; Tyrone v Kildare; Derry v Meath; Sligo v Laois.
Round 7: Apr 10 (Sun): Antrim v Derry; Laois v Donegal; Kildare v Sligo; Meath v Tyrone.
Apr 24: Final.
Round 1: Offaly 1-12 Cavan 0-8; Wexford 4-11 Waterford 2-6; Tipperary 0-10 Limerick 0-6. Louth 2-13 Westmeath 0-11.
Round 2: Waterford 2-8 Limerick 0-8; Westmeath 0-12 Cavan 1-9; Wexford 0-12 Offaly 0-11; Louth 1-12 Tipperary 1-10.
Round 3: Louth 1-12 Wexford 0-11; Cavan 0-13 Waterford 1-8; Westmeath 2-12 Tipperary 2-9; Offaly 2-10 Limerick 1-12.
Round 4: Waterford 2-8 Tipperary 0-9; Offaly 1-9 Louth 0-11; Limerick 2-14 Cavan 0-15; Wexford 0-13 Westmeath 1-7.
Round 5: Mar 20 (Sun): Louth v Limerick; Westmeath v Waterford; Offaly v Tipperary; Wexford v Cavan.
Round 6: Apr 2 (Sat): Cavan v Louth; Apr 3 (Sun): Limerick v Westmeath; Waterford v Offaly; Tipperary v Wexford.
Round 7: Apr 3 (Sun): Westmeath v Offaly; Waterford v Louth; Limerick v Wexford; Cavan v Tipperary.
Apr 23: Final
Round 1: London 0-16 Kilkenny 0-2; Leitrim 0-12 Clare 0-11; Longford 1-7 Roscommon 0-10; Carlow 2-10 Wicklow 1-13; Fermanagh (bye).
Round 2: Roscommon 1-14 London 0-5; Clare 5-17 Kilkenny 1-1; Wicklow 1-15 Leitrim 1-10; Fermanagh 1-10 Carlow 0-6; Longford (bye).
Round 3: Longford 1-8 Fermanagh 0-5; Leitrim 3-18 Kilkenny 0-0; Roscommon 2-13 Carlow 0-8; Wicklow 2-22 London 1-4.
Round 4: Fermanagh 0-13 Wicklow 2-7; London v Leitrim – postponed; Longford 4-24 Kilkenny 0-5; Carlow 1-11 Clare 1-10; Roscommon (bye).
Round 5: Clare 5-10 London 0-4;Wicklow 2-9 Longford 1-12; Roscommon 1-12 Fermanagh 1-9; Carlow 2-21 Kilkenny 3-1; Leitrim (bye).
Round 6: Mar 5 (Sat): Longford 1-15 London 0-8; Mar 20 (Sun): Clare v Roscommon; Leitrim v Fermanagh; Kilkenny v Wicklow; Carlow (bye).
Round 7: Mar 27 (Sun): Wicklow v Roscommon; Leitrim v Carlow; Clare v Longford; Kilkenny v Fermanagh; London (bye).
Round 8: Apr 3 (Sun): Longford v Leitrim; Roscommon v Kilkenny; Carlow v London; Fermanagh v Clare; Wicklow (bye).
Round 9: Apr 3 (Sun): Roscommon v Leitrim; Wicklow v Clare; Longford v Carlow; Fermanagh v London; Kilkenny (bye).
Apr 23: Final