Allianz Football League Division 4 North & South Preview
By Darren Brennan
After months and months of uncertainty the Allianz National Football Leagues are finally back this weekend and for the Division 4 counties this is their championship. Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic the four divisions have been divided into 2 groups, North and South, with every County playing at least 3 at least games with the top 2 from each group qualifying for the Semi-Finals.
In the northern section of Division 4 Mickey Harte’s Louth host Antrim and there is an all Connacht clash as Leitrim travel to Sligo. In the Southern section of Division 4 there are only 3 teams due to London’s non-participation because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. In Round 1 Waterford will play Carlow in Dungarvan with Wexford getting a bye.
Louth v Antrim
Throw-in: Saturday May 15th @ 15:00
Venue: Geraldines GFC, Dundalk
Referee: Barry Tiernan
Watch On: GAA Go
Saturday afternoon Louth host Antrim in Dundalk in the round 1 of the Allianz National Football League Division 1 North. Both sides had contrasting form in last year's leagues, Louth coming rock bottom of Division 3 with only 1 win which came against neighbours Down on the final day while Antrim just missed out on promotion from Division 4 finishing just one point behind both Wicklow and Limerick. Both sides lost their opening championship fixture last year, Louth losing out narrowly to Longford while Antrim never troubled Cavan.
Mickey Harte will take charge of Louth for the first time and knowing a Mickey Harte side they will be very defensively solid. They will be looking at Sam Mulroy to get scores, he put on a terrific display against Longford last November. They will be hoping to put a woeful 2020 behind them and bounce back to division 3 while also having one eye on the Leinster Senior Football championship first round encounter with Offaly.
Antrim who are managed by one of Harte’s former players Enda Mcginley, will be looking to go one better this year and gain promotion to Division 3. Again I expect them to be defensively solid with Declan Lynch and James McAuley at the heart of the defence and they’ll be looking at scorer in chief Conor Murray to get scores. Due to Harte’s experiences I expect Louth to just shade it.
Sligo v Leitrim
Throw-in: Sunday May 16th @ 15:00
Venue: Markievicz Park, Sligo
Referee: Niall Cullen
Watch On: GAA Go
On Sunday Leitrim travel to Sligo in an all Connacht affair in the Allianz National Football Division 4 North round 1. This will be Sligo’s first game since the completion of last year’s Football League as they had to give Galway a walkover in last year's championship due to a Covid-19 breakout in their camp. Last year Leitrim finished second from bottom in division 3 with 1 win and 1 draw which meant relegation but they did put up a good performance against All-Ireland finalist Mayo in last year’s Connacht championship. Last year Sligo came third from bottom in division 4 with 3 wins and 4 defeats and didn’t participate in the championship
Sligo are managed by Tony McEntee and will have the likes of Eddie McGuinness and Paul McNamara in defence and will be looking at the likes of Pat Hughes and Niall Murphy to get scores up front. They will be hoping for a good league campaign with a tough championship encounter with Mayo on the horizon.
Terry Hyland and co will be hoping to put a disappointing 2020 behind him and get off to a good start with a win here. Without Emlyn Mulligan in attack again this year he’ll need the likes of Keith Byrne to step up and get scores and try stay as solid at the back. I think Sligo will just edge this Connacht derby
Waterford v Carlow
Throw-in: Saturday May 15th @ 19:00
Venue: Faher Field, Dungarvan
Referee: John Ryan
Watch On: GAA Go
Waterford and Carlow do battle in the first round of the Allianz Football League Division 4 South in Faher Field Dungarvan. Waterford Came second bottom last year in Division 4 with two wins, 1 draw and 4 defeats while putting in a decent display against Limerick in the Munster Quarter Final. Carlow finished 5th in Division 4 with 3 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats and were beaten by Offaly in the first round of the Leinster championship in an exciting game which they scored 0-20 in.
Waterford have Morneabbey Ladies Football manager Shane Ronayne at the helm and will be looking at the likes of Conor Murray and Jason Curry to push them forward while they will need to tighten up their defence and will need players likes of Sean O’Donovan to stand up and take control
Carlow who have Niall Carew in charge and former Dublin senior footballer Ger Brennan involved as the teams coach. He has something to build on after that Offaly performance last year but will need to tighten up, 0-20 will win most games so if they can tighten up at the back they have a good chance of getting promotion to Division 3. Carlow should come out comfortably here