WITH TWO ROUNDS of the Allianz football league completed, teams are able to take stock of how their spring campaigns have begun.
After last weekend’s action, there is a three week break until the counties are back out in early March.
Already there have been some early winners with teams unbeaten and riding high at the top of the table while others are rooted in relegation battles.
So it’s been a good start for…
After the glory of 2013, Dublin have begun 2014 in a fine fashion. They have hauled themselves off the floor in the second-half to defeat Kerry and Westmeath with new faces like Cormac Costello and Paul Hudson aiming to gain recognition. Jim Gavin will be pleased with their start.
Brian Cuthbert admitted that Cork had pinpointed their opening two home league games as opportunities to thieve points. They did so successfully with improved second-half showings on both occasions central to their wins. The initial signs have been healthy as they have coped with last winter’s raft of retirements and bedded in youngsters.
After the slump in fortunes they experienced last year, Jim McGuinness has seen his team start this season on a more upbeat note. Away trips to Portlaoise and Salthill have been profitable as they produced impressive victories to go top of the table unchallenged.
Donegal’s Karl Lacey and Galway’s Paul Conroy.
Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Last summer Cavan charted a course to the All-Ireland quarter-final stage and made considerable progress. Their form has not dipped this spring with two opening wins as they remain on target to achieve their promotion goal.
John Evans has seen his team bag wins in a competitive division already over Longford and Wexford. They have set themselves up well for a tilt at going up.
Only one team has an unblemished record in the lower division and that’s the Garden County. Sunday’s trip to Antrim was rewarding and they’re in fine goalscoring form as they have raised six green flags with the returning Leighton Glynn firing home five.
Wicklow’s Leighton Glynn
Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan
But it’s been a bad start for…
It’s been another tricky spring opening for Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s men. There have been flashes of promise in their games against Dublin and Derry but having yielded no points, the pressure will increase when they head to Castlebar next out.
Putting scores on the board has not been a problem for Mayo, 2-18 against Kildare and 0-15 against Tyrone, yet they have ended up on the wrong side of their two games to date. Their meeting with Kerry assumes extra importance on March 2nd.
After claiming promotion last year, it has not been an easy start in the top flight for Westmeath. They opened brightly against both Cork and Dublin yet pointless after two games, they remain favourites for the drop.
Westmeath boss Paul Bealin
Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer
Alan Mulholland saw his side strike 4-10 on their opening day against Meath yet it was not sufficient to triumph. Then on Sunday they were beaten by a superior Donegal team and their need for points has become greater.
Former Dubs player Jack Sheedy has endured a tough start to inter-county management with losses to Roscommon and Limerick. They will want to reverse their slide.
The Faithful jumped up from Division 4 last year and haven’t acclimatised yet. Wexford brought them down in their first outing and matters did not improve on Sunday in Tullamore against Cavan.
Offaly footballer Niall McNamee
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie
One of the teams tipped to make a strong push for promotion from the basement tier, it hasn’t quite worked out so far for Antrim. They met a Leitrim side in strong form after the FBD League and then were defeated by Wicklow’s goalscoring capabilities on Sunday.