Having won the Allianz Football League Division 2 title last year, Galway will be back in Croke Park to contest the Division 1 final on April 1st, when their opponents will be either Dublin or Monaghan.
But Monaghan's hopes of reaching the decider could well be decided this weekend, when they host relegation threatened Donegal.
It will be Galway’s first appearance in the Allianz Football League Division 1 final since 2006 when they lost to Kerry. Dublin are bidding to reach the final for a sixth successive year, while Monaghan were last in the final in 1986.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 1: FOCUS SWITCHES TO RELEGATION BATTLE
Saturday (19:00): Kerry v Kildare, Tralee.
Sunday (14:00): Galway v Dublin, Pearse Stadium; Mayo v Tyrone, Elverys MacHale Park; Monaghan v Donegal, Clones.
With Galway already through to the final and Dublin needing only one point from their remaining two games (v Galway and Monaghan) to make sure they reach the decider for a sixth successive year, the focus switches to the battle against relegation.
Kildare (0 points) are in the most perilous position, needing to win their last two games (v Kerry and Galway) to have any chance of avoiding a drop back down to Division 2 of the Allianz Football League after one season in the top flight. Even if they won their last two games, they would need other results to go their way to stay up.
They take on Kerry on Saturday in what will be the first clash between the counties since the 2015 All-Ireland quarter-final when the Kingdom won by 7-16 to 0-10. Kerry started this campaign very well, beating Donegal and Mayo but have since lost to Monaghan, Galway and Kerry.
They lost to Dublin by 12 points last Sunday, leaving Jim Gavin’s men leading the table (on scoring difference ahead of Galway) as they head for Pearse Stadium to take on Kevin Walsh’s men who have also won all five games. It will be the first Allianz Football League clash between the counties since 2011 when they drew.
A draw or a Dublin win would secure their place in the final. Monaghan still have an outside chance of reaching the final but can only get there by winning their last two games (v Donegal and Dublin) and if Dublin lost to Galway next Sunday. Donegal are deep in relegation trouble as they prepare to take on Monaghan in Clones. Last year’s Allianz Football League clash between the counties finished level.
Mayo and Tyrone, who meet in Castlebar, are both on four points. Mayo beat Tyrone by a point in last year’s Allianz Football League. Tyrone, Mayo and Kerry are all on four points.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 2: THREE POINTS SEPARATE TOP FOUR
Saturday (19:00): Cork v Clare, Pairc Ui Rinn.
Sunday (14:00): Down v Tipperary, Newry; Louth v Meath, Drogheda; Roscommon v Cavan, Dr. Hyde Park.
Only three points separate Cavan (9), Roscommon (7), Tipperary (7) and Cork (6) as the campaign heads for the last two rounds. Cavan and Roscommon, who were relegated from Division 1 of the Allianz Football League last year, meet in a crucial game at Dr. Hyde Park. A win for Cavan would guarantee them promotion while a win for Roscommon would not only keep them right in contention, it would also be a boost for Tipperary and Cork. Roscommon beat Cavan by 1-13 to 1-10 in last year’s final group game.
Tipperary make the long trip to Newry as they continue their strong bid to win promotion from Division 3 to Division 1 in successive seasons. Down (4 points) are only just clear of the relegation places, which are currently occupied by Louth (0 points) and Meath (3 points).
Louth, who came up from Division 3 of the Allianz Football League this year, need to win their last two games to have any chance of avoiding relegation. Meath beat Louth by nine points in last year’s Leinster championship.
Cork will stay in the promotion hunt if they beat Clare. The Banner men beat Cork by eight points in last year’s Allianz Football League.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 3: TOP FOUR IN TWO CRUCIAL PROMOTION BATTLES
Sunday (14:00): Derry v Wexford, Celtic Park; Fermanagh v Armagh, Enniskillen: Longford v Westmeath, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park; Offaly v Sligo, Bord na Mona O’Connor Park.
Having won all five games, Armagh are within touching distance of promotion, which they will secure if they beat Fermanagh (8 points) in Enniskillen. Armagh beat Fermanagh by nine points in last year’s All-Ireland qualifiers. Westmeath (8 points) and Longford (7 points) are also in the promotion mix, which makes their clash in Longford very important too.
Wexford, who were promoted from Division 4 of the Allianz Football League last year, appear to be on their way back down after losing all five games so far. They head for Celtic Park to take on Derry (2 points), who are also in a relegation battle. That too applies to Sligo (3 points) and Offaly (2 points), who meet in Tullamore. Offaly beat Sligo by four points in last year’s Allianz Football League.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 4: STILL VERY TIGHT AMONG TOP THREE
Sunday (14:00): Antrim v Carlow, Ahoghill; Waterford v Leitrim, Fraher Field; Wicklow v Limerick, Joule Park Aughrim.
It’s between Carlow and Laois (both on ten points after five games) and Antrim (seven points after four games) for the two promotion slots. The clash of Antrim and Carlow will be crucial, with a Carlow win enough to ensure that they escape from the bottom tier for the first time since the 1980s. This will be first Antrim-Carlow Allianz Football League clash since 2016 when the Ulster men won by five points. Neither Laois or London are in action next Sunday.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE 2018: RESULTS AND FIXTURES
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 1
Round 1: Dublin 2-17 Kildare 2-10; Galway 1-9 Tyrone 0-8; Kerry 2-18 Donegal 3-14; Mayo 0-13 Monaghan 0-12.
Round 2: Kerry 1-15 Mayo 2-9; Dublin 2-13 Tyrone 1-11; Monaghan 1-10 Kildare 0-12; Galway 1-12 Donegal 0-14.
Round 3: Dublin 0-20 Donegal 0-15; Galway 1-13 Mayo 0-11 Tyrone 1-16 Kildare 0-18; Monaghan 1-13 Kerry 0-14.
Round 4: Dublin 2-10 Mayo 0-12; Monaghan 0-15 Tyrone 0-14; Donegal 1-15 Kildare 3-7; Galway 1-14 Kerry 0-14.
Round 5: Dublin 2-17 Kerry 0-11; Tyrone 2-13 Donegal 1-10; Galway 0-17 Monaghan 1-10 Mayo 1-19 Kildare 1-12.
Round 6: Mar 17: Kerry v Kildare; Mar 18: Galway v Dublin; Mayo v Tyrone; Monaghan v Donegal.
Round 7: Mar 25: Donegal v Mayo; Dublin v Monaghan; Kildare v Galway; Tyrone v Kerry.
Final: Apr 1
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 2
Round 1: Clare 1-12 Cavan 2-9; Tipperary 3-16 Cork 1-16; Down 1-14 Louth 0-11; Roscommon 2-12 Meath 2-12.
Round 2: Cavan 3-17 Louth 0-14; Cork 1-13 Down 0-10; Meath 0-21 Clare 0-7; Roscommon 1-17 Tipperary 3-9.
Round 3: Clare 0-11 Tipperary 0-11; Cork 2-11 Louth 0-10; Down 0-12 Roscommon 0-7; Cavan 2-14 Meath 1-12.
Round 4: Tipperary 2-15 Meath 1-10; Cavan 0-14 Cork 0-11; Clare 1-14 Down 1-12; Roscommon 1-21 Louth 0-12.
Round 5: Cavan 0-17 Down 0-14; Roscommon 2-19 Clare 2-12; Cork 2-16 Meath1-15; Tipperary 2-17 Louth 0-9.
Round 6: Mar 17: Cork v Clare; Mar 18: Down v Tipperary; Louth v Meath; Roscommon v Cavan.
Round 7: Mar 25: Cavan v Tipperary; Clare v Louth; Meath v Down; Roscommon v Cork.
Final: Apr 1
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 3
Round 1: Armagh 2-17 Sligo 0-9; Westmeath 2-17 Derry 2-14; Fermanagh 3-7 Wexford 2-5; Longford 3-18 Offaly 1-13.
Round 2: Fermanagh 2-11 Offaly 1-6; Longford 1-13 Derry 1-6; Sligo 1-16 Wexford 1-13; Armagh 2-17 Westmeath 1-11.
Round 3: Armagh 1-11 Longford 1-10; Westmeath 0-16 Wexford 1-10; Derry 1-15 Offaly 0-13; Fermanagh 0-13 Sligo 0-8.
Round 4: Fermanagh 1-16 Derry 3-8; Longford 1-12 Wexford 0-9; Armagh 1-15 Offaly 1-9; Westmeath 0-20 Sligo 0-14.
Round 5: Armagh 1-15 Derry 0-14; Sligo 0-18 Longford 2-12; Westmeath 0-14 Fermanagh 1-9; Offaly 1-13 Wexford 1-10.
Round 6: Mar 18: Derry v Wexford; Fermanagh v Armagh: Longford v Westmeath; Offaly v Sligo.
Round 7: Mar 25: Longford v Fermanagh; Sligo v Derry; Westmeath v Offaly; Wexford v Armagh.
Final: Mar 31
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 4
Round 1: Carlow 2-14 London 2-9; Laois 2-12 Limerick 0-9; Antrim 0-15 Leitrim 0-5; Wicklow 0-12 Waterford 0-12.
Round 2: Laois 3-16 Leitrim 3-10; Carlow 2-11 Limerick 0-14; London 1-16 Wicklow 0-10; Antrim 2-12 Waterford 0-10.
Round 3: Laois 0-18 Waterford 1-11; Carlow 2-11 Leitrim 0-5; Antrim 0-12 Wicklow 0-12; London 2-8 Limerick 2-8.
Round 4: Carlow 2-12 Waterford 2-9; Leitrim 2-18 Limerick 1-9; Laois 1-16 Wicklow 0-10; Antrim 0-17 London 0-13.
Round 5: Carlow 1-17 Wicklow 0-12; Limerick 2-10 Waterford 2-9; Laois 0-17 London 2-09;
Round 6: Mar 18: Antrim v Carlow; Waterford v Leitrim; Wicklow v Limerick.
Round 7: Mar 25: Carlow v Laois; Leitrim v Wicklow; Limerick v Antrim; London v Waterford.
Rearranged: Mar 31/Apr 1: London v Leitrim; Laois v Antrim.
Final: April 7/8
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