January 26th, 2019

The League is Back

This weekend sees the Start of the National League campaigns in both the Football and the Hurling. With no Uni teams taking players away from the counties, the league is where the real Championship planning gets underway.

National Football Leagues

Tyrone look to add to their League success in

Division 1

Dublin, Kerry, Tyrone, Mayo, Monaghan, Galway, Roscommon and Cavan make up this years Division 1. Dublin have won 5 out of the last 6 titles with Kerry the only side to break the run in 2017. Its hard to see a massive change this year. Tyrone, Monaghan and Galway are the teams most likely to break the Dublin stranglehold. Kerry will also be their usual selves but sounds from the camp say the Championship is the be-all for them again.

Division 2

Division 2 has a strong look about it this year. The Teams are Donegal, Kildare, Cork, Armagh, Meath, Clare, Tipperary and Fermanagh. Donegal are strong favourites but the league is usually an experimental time for them. I expect Armagh and Meath to start strongly and continue to grow through their campaigns.

Division 3

Ulsters only interest in Division 3 is the transitioning Down team. Laois, Carlow, Sligo, Offaly, Westmeath, Louth and Longford make up the division. Anything could really happen in this division. Momentum could be the key. If Down start well they may go back up to Division 2. Laois, Offaly, Westmeath could also be in contention.

Division 4

Waterford, Wicklow, Leitrim, Wexford, Limerick, London compete with Antrim and Derry to escape the Basement. Antrim and Derry are too good for this Division but not good enough for Division 3 yet. Derry should really win this but which Derry will turn up?

Monaghan Walking the Walk

Weekend Fixtures

Saturday 7.00pm

Division One
Mayo v Roscommon
Division Three
Down v Laois
Division Four
Waterford v Wicklow


Sunday – 2.00pm Unless Stated Otherwise

Division One
Kerry v Tyrone
Monaghan v Dublin
Galway v Cavan – 2.30pm

Division Two
Clare v Donegal
Fermanagh v Cork
Kildare v Armagh
Meath v Tipperary
Division Three
Carlow v Sligo
Offaly v Westmeath
Louth v Longford – 2.30pm
Division Four
Leitrim v Wexford
London v Limerick
Antrim v Derry

Weekend News

Monaghan take on the Dubs at Clones in arguably the tie of the round. Monaghan were the last team to beat Dublin in a competitve match. Dublin are missing Football of the year Brian Fenton. Kilkenny and J McCarthy are also missing, with C O’Sullivan and Mannion doubtful. Monaghan could well start on a high.

Tyrone hand league debuts to L Rafferty and B Kennedy. Brian Kennedy in midfield could provide the Rhythm after an impressive McKenna Cup. McCurry, P Harte, Mattie Donnelly and N Sludden make up an impressive looking attack. Hampesy and C Cavanagh have not returned to the panel as yet. Tyrone look strong at this stage.

Cavan will have it all to do to avoid relegation. They could do with getting something from Last years beaten finalists Galway. G McKiernan and Caoimhin O’Reilly are out and will miss most of the league campaign.

Division 2 should see an easy win for Donegal. Armagh will get it tight in Kildare but are good enough to take away the points. Fermanagh start against once heavyweights Cork, but Cork are not what they used to be. Fermanagh can make a positive start.

Down start off Division 3 against one of their main rivals for promotion. Laois are finally bringing through some of their exciting youth. Laois are rumoured to have left out experienced players C Begley, D Kingston and R Munnelly.

Derry should get off to a winning start against Antrim

Derry gave Tyrone a game in the McKenna Cup semi-final. Antrim are in transition again (are they ever out of transition), who genuinely knows what Antrim we will get this year. Maybe the big game against Derry to start will work in Antrims favour. I doubt it though! Derry could well win Division 4 at a canter.

National Hurling Leagues

The Hurling league starts with less fanfare than its footballing rival. The Hurling Championship has undoubtedly been much better viewing than its footballing rival but not many can name the Winners in recent history of the Hurling Leagues, certainly Division 2.

Fixtures

Saturday – 7.00pm

Division One A
Tipperary v Clare
Division One B
Dublin v Carlow
Division Two A
Antrim v Kerry 2.00pm
Division Two B
Warwickshire v Wicklow 3.00pm
Down v Derry 5.00pm


Sunday – 2.00pm

Division One A
Kilkenny v Cork
Wexford v Limerick
Division One B
Galway v Laois 12.30
Waterford v Offaly
Division Two A
Westmeath v London 1.00
Mayo v Meath
Division Two B
Donegal v Kildare
Division Three A
Louth v Roscommon – 12:30
Monaghan v Armagh – 12:30
Division Three B
Cavan v Leitrim
Sligo v Fermanagh

Tipperary v Clare & Kilkenny v Cork vie for the ties of the round here. Personally I’d rather watch Tipp v Clare due to the age old local rivalry.

Limerick are less than 3 weeks back from a team holiday to celebrate their All Ireland last year. I wouldn’t expect them to be as sharp in the league as last year winning 1B. They will have the confidence that lifting that great trophy gives. Expect Experimental teams, especially Tipp with Liam Sheedy in charge. Cody always bloods youngsters in the League for the Cats also. Personally I would take in a game or two before getting involved in the hurling as a money maker.

Limerick Hurling

Antrim have new manager Peden in charge as they look to get out of 2A again. They are missing their Cushendall contingent and that is a big loss. Peden has brought through some youngsters and is saying the right things. Its just hard to see Antrim compete at the top table for another while County-wise. The Club Scene in Antrim still leads the way in terms of priorities.

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