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(All at 2.0 unless stated)
Armagh v Mayo
Athletic Grounds, 3.30. Live on TG4
There was a lot to admire about Mayo’s performance against Galway. They showed great character in scoring the last two points, both courtesy of turnovers – while David McBrien looks capable of filling the troublesome full-back role. However, they remain dependent on a running game, and on individuals to come up with the big plays.
Armagh were awful in the first half against Monaghan, converting just five of 16 chances – and would have been in trouble but for a fortuitous goal. They were much improved after the break, particularly in the third quarter.
Armagh have a poor record against Mayo, but home advantage should tell.
Galway v Roscommon
Pearse Stadium. 2.30
Honestly, who would have predicted that Roscommon would beat Tyrone in a competitive match for the first time in 20 years last Sunday?
Better still, it was no fluke – they scored 3-11 as substitutes Enda Smith and Ciaran Murtagh made the difference.
I was surprised at how sharp Galway looked against Mayo.
They have matured into a very physically imposing side, and it looks like they’re up for the league – which spells trouble for the visitors.
Kerry v Monaghan
Fitzgerald Stadium, 1.30. Live on TG4
An understrength Monaghan couldn’t have picked a worse day to visit Killarney.
Kerry would have deemed this a banker anyway. But there is likely to be a serious kick-back after an indifferent Kingdom performance in Ballybofey.
Held scoreless for 20 minutes, Kerry’s 1-9 was the lowest score in the division. Jack O’Connor was cranky afterwards – which all spells trouble for the visitors.
Tyrone v Donegal
Healy Park, Omagh
Trailing by six points, having scored just 0-3, it did not look like Donegal would cut loose last Sunday.
But there was a lot to admire about the rest of their performance as they outscored Kerry 10-3 – and kept the All-Ireland champions scoreless for those 20 minutes.
Tyrone are an enigma. They have now chalked up back-to-back disastrous performances against Derry (in the McKenna Cup final) and Roscommon.
They were so unTyrone-like last weekend: no energy, no leadership, and no intensity as they conceded three soft second-half goals. Their desperation for a win might do the trick today.
Kildare v Cork Newbridge
After opening-round losses, this is a crucial game for both sides. To misquote Mark Twain – reports of Cork’s revival may have been much exaggerated. Brought in to sort out their defence, coach Kevin Walsh has his work cut out after conceding 3-14 to the Royals. Only Waterford conceded more last weekend.
Steven Sherlock scored all but five of Cork’s 19 points, which is not encouraging either.
Kildare were OK against Dublin, though they were slow in transition and their shooting wasn’t up to scratch. But they only lost by a point and their full-forward line looks lethal. In Newbridge they are a different animal.
Limerick v Dublin
TUS Gaelic Grounds, 3.0
Even I can predict this result. It could be a right turkey shoot.
As Dessie Farrell said afterwards the Dubs were blowing off cobwebs last weekend, converting just 12 out of 30 chances.
They won’t happen again. Limerick scored 0-4 against Derry and can expect a torrid afternoon.
Louth v Derry
Mickey Harte must be fuming. His side were three points up at the end of normal time, but ended up with nothing from a relegation battle against Clare.
They already now face an uphill battle to avoid dropping back into Division 3.
A full-strength Derry played in second gear last weekend, and occasionally fell into third, and still beat Limerick comfortably.
Meath v Clare
I am running out of superlatives to describe Colm Collins and Clare. Yet again they showed tremendous character against Louth.
Three points down in the 70th minute, they hit four points on the spin to secure a priceless win.
Unfortunately, for them, there were signs in Cork that the Meath football beast is reawakening. There will be a huge crowd in Navan and, after their win over the Rebels, expectations will have rocketed.
Cavan v Tipperary
This is a potential banana skin for Cavan – they lost at home to Tipp by four points in last year’s league. But Tipp have regressed and Conor Sweeney is out for the season. Despite home advantage and an extra man for 30 minutes, they still lost to Down last weekend. A repeat of their performance against Westmeath should do the trick for Mickey Graham’s side.
Longford v Westmeath
Glennon Brothers Pearse Park
After last weekend’s surprise losses for both these teams, another defeat means the losers of this will be in relegation territory after just two matches.
Having scored 3-13 against Louth in the O’Byrne Cup final, Longford hit just 0-8 against Fermanagh and only three scores came from play.
Westmeath’s forwards only got 0-3 from play too against Cavan, and struggled to make inroads against a blanket defence.
Potentially, Westmeath have more room to improve than the home side.
Offaly v Fermanagh
Glenisk O’Connor Park
A clash of the surprise winners in the division last week.
Offaly were seriously impressive in the first half against Antrim, but they held on due to the home side’s squandermania.
Though they are over dependent on Sean Quigley – he hit seven of their 15 scores against Longford – I like Fermanagh.
In Ryan Jones and Darragh McGurn, the county has one of the very best midfield pairings in the game.
Laois v Wexford
O’Moore Park, Portlaoise
It was great to see 3,500 people in Wexford Park to see the home team face London in the first round.
But they will have been disappointed with dropping a point from being six points up with 20 minutes to go.
I was impressed by Laois last week – they are a physically strong side.
They are probably too good for Division 4.
London v Leitrim
McGovern Park, Ruislip, 1.0
Leitrim recorded the highest score last weekend, having put in an impressive second-half performance when they outscored Waterford 3-11 to 0-3.
Yet they will be very wary of London who scored a shock win over them last year, which ended their hopes of promotion.
Wicklow v Sligo
Crossmaglen natives John McEntee and Oisín McConville pit their wits against each other, with each manager badly needing a win.