The Allianz football league season is back this weekend, with action being played out across all four divisions. With the league season being the perfect way for each county to prepare for the All-Ireland this summer, I’ll be looking at which counties are likely to have a successful league campaign.
It’s hard to look past Dublin who will be favourites for Roinn 1 after winning the first division last yeat and of course being reigning All-Ireland champions. Dublin’s talent pool seems so deep it you get the impression they are almost untouchable, and they will be looking to build on the success of last year and will be high on the momentum of winning the O’Byrne Cup.
Kerry are perhaps the biggest threat to Dublin in the league. The Kingdom have a lot of promising players who have come through minor who are now breaking into the senior panel. The McGrath Cup showed Kerry are willing to experiment to find a winning formula, giving Kingdom fans hope they can give Dublin a nasty shock this league campaign.
Monaghan will be looking to stay in the first division this year, after suffering the loss of Paul Finlay and Dick Clerkin who have retired. But it’s not all bad for The Farney county as they have an exceptional talent on the forward line in the form of Conor McManus who will be looking to help Monaghan spring a surprise.
Mayo are still recovering from yet another All-Ireland final defeat.But they should have enough to stay up and not get sucked into a relegation battle. But I reckon they’ll finish mid-table due to the tough away fixtures they’ve been drawn which feature the three main title contenders of Dublin, Kerry and Tyrone. Mayo will have to be at their best if they are to get to the league final this year.
Donegal will looking to save themselves for the Ulster Championship and the All-Ireland. I expect they too will finish round mid-table. But could
Tyrone will be buzzing off winning the McKenna Cup once again. Mickey Harte knows how to dig deep to win a trophy, and they could surprise everyone and win the league after their successful year last year.
Roscommon will be hoping to build on the success of their league campaign from last year. But are in danger of carrying on the same form they suffered in the championship last year and may be at risk of relegation.
Division 1 new boys Cavan will certainly not sit back this year and will aim to make games in Breffni tough for the opposition. They’ll relish playing against the bigger counties and will surely fight relegation this year to the best of their ability.
Cork will be looking to get back into the top flight after their relegation. I reckon Cork will need a good start in their opening fixture if they want to recover after they didn’t have the best of seasons last year and are a side who belong in the top flight. It will be a waiting game to see how much Cork want to playing top flight football this time next year.
Fermanagh are a side full of confidence due to the success they have achieved in recent seasons and enjoyed a reasonably successful pre-season. They will surely fear no county as they look to build on last year.
Galway look set for a successful league campaign after they built on the momentum of winning their first Connacht championship for 8 years and won the FBD league this year. Galway certainly showed passion and grit in pre-season which gives the impression they’ll give it their all this league campaign.
Meath have the ability to make something of their league campaign but after the recent change in management, it’s a waiting game to see how they react to the new change to their style of football.
Kildare are destined for an average season and will be hoping that they aren’t as badly affected as they were with injuries this season like they were in 2016.
Derry will be looking to surprise people this season and have lads from Slaughtneil senior football panel who have the ability to change the game for Derry. Conor Nevin will be a key player for Derry this year and will
Clare will be looking to build on the success of getting to the Quarter-finals of the All-Ireland last year and push themselves this league campaign. They should have enough to battle relegation despite their sluggish pre-season
Laois will be looking to put their poor pre-season and behind them. But they don’t have the quality to challenge for promotion and are destined for a quiet season.
Louth had a decent Pre-season ultimately losing to Dublin in the O’Byrne Cup final. But throughout pre-season they showed a lot of promise and have the ability to have a succesful season.
Longford are destined for a quiet season as they haven’t showed any real change from the form that saw them finish fourth last year. But if they can get a string of results together they can challenge for promotion.
Offaly, just like Longford need a couple of wins to make them promotion contenders. Aside from that, they are in danger of having a quiet season.
Sligo’s best chance of progress comes in the form of youth. It’s just a case of waiting to see if 2017 is different to 2016.
If pre-season is anything to go by Armagh could be destined for a promising season. The Orchard county are currently bringing through youth, and could prove to be a positive breath of fresh air.
Tipperary will still be buzzing off their successful 2016. I fully expect them to be challenging for promotion. They have the talent to blow away the division through a mix of older and young players I just hope the fulfil their potential.
Antrim won’t pose a major threat to the counties going for promotion and will avoid relegation.
2017 is a dawn of a new era for London, the redevelopment at Ruislip due to be completed in May has the whole of the GAA in London buzzing with excitement. On the pitch London manager Ciaran Deely has brought in a load of home grown London born players to the senior panel which has increased the level of talent on the London panel. It is more than likely the league campaign this year is a test to see what this London team can do this year and how they can progress as a county.But there is no doubt long term there’s bright future for the Exiles.
Waterford look on course for a repeat of last year where they won two games. They could end up going down.
Wicklow and Leitrim will be looking for a dramatic improvement from their campaigns last year and will both look to youth in the hope of a change in fortunes of both counties.
Westmeath look like they could challenge for promotion this year after another decent performance in the Leinster Championship in 2016. If they use the momentum from that who knows how far they can go in the league.
Carlow will be no pushovers and have the ability to shock and surprise teams. Pre-season didn’t give away too much how they’ll do this league campaign. But the opening couple of fixtures will set the the tone for the league season.
Wexford and Limerick are looking to get out of division four. Both sides are traditionally massive hurling counties. This game could prove vital in determining who makes something of their league season, with Limerick looking to prove a point after last years poor league campaign.