Dublin's Brian Fenton and Meath's Cillian O'Sullivan. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Dublin aim for promotion and Waterford-Kilkenny showdown: Allianz League talking points

There are plenty key matches to look forward to this weekend.

1. Second tier football relegation fight

The relegation picture in Division 2 of the Allianz Football League will become clear after the penultimate round of games this weekend. Limerick vs Kildare at the TUS Gaelic Grounds is the most significant fixture, with both teams battling to avoid the drop.

Defeat for the Treaty would send them back to Division 3 for next season, but should the home side deliver a result under new manager Mark Fitzgerald, the Lilywhites’ woes will intensify.

Elsewhere, Clare will be bidding to extend their six-year stay in Division 2 when they make the long trip to Derry. The Banner County are currently in the relegation zone, behind Kildare on the head-to-head rule. But an upset in Owenbeg would be most welcome for Colm Collins as they scrap for survival.

2. Waterford-Kilkenny showdown

Waterford will put their Division 1 title defence in the Allianz Hurling League on the line this Sunday when they take on Kilkenny in Nowlan Park. It’s effectively a straight shootout for a place in the semi-finals. Waterford need a win to stay alive as reigning champions while Kilkenny just need a draw in order to progress.

Davy Fitzgerald’s side will go into that battle on the back of a punishing encounter with Tipperary which saw star players Austin Gleeson and Conor Prunty being struck down with hamstring injuries. The talk around their wounds suggests that the Munster championship is the target for their return rather than chasing any remaining league action. They also shipped four goals against Tipp which will surely be a concern.

Conversely, Kilkenny are in more comfortable form at the moment. They sailed to victory against Dublin this weekend and didn’t suffer any major injury setbacks. However, they are still awaiting the return of ace forward TJ Reid who recently said he is unlikely to feature during the league as he nurses some injury niggles.’

eoin-cody Kilkenny's Eoin Cody in action against Waterford. Ben Whitley / INPHO Ben Whitley / INPHO / INPHO

3. Kerry’s need for a response

Mid-March and Jack O’Connor’s All-Ireland title holders have already tasted defeat on three occasions in the Allianz Football League. It is not a situation Kerry will be accustomed to, storming to springtime glory last year. Now they need a response to ease concerns about the scenario facing them at the bottom of the table.

There is a clear pattern to their form so far with defeats on the road to Donegal, Mayo and Tyrone, while they have fashioned wins at home to Monaghan and Armagh. Playing in Tralee on Saturday night against Roscommon, O’Connor will target a response.

4. Can Antrim finish on a high?

Darren Gleeson’s side retained their Division 1 status for 2024 with a home victory over Laois on Sunday. The Saffrons can now look ahead to the upcoming Leinster Championship campaign, safe in the knowledge that they cannot face Westmeath in a dreaded play-off. Antrim finish their campaign on Sunday with Tipperary – who are already qualified for the semi-finals – visiting Belfast.

Corrigan Park is a notoriously tricky venue to visit, and the Premier County will be expecting a tough challenge from their hosts. But with a scalp eluding Antrim thus far in the campaign, can they make a statement ahead of the championship?

5. Dublin aim to finish the job

The Dubs may be licking their wounds after defeat to Derry, but remain well-positioned to join the Oak Leaf County in the Division 2 football promotion spots at the end of the campaign. They travel to a sold-out Páirc Tailteann this weekend to face old rivals Meath, with Dessie Farrell eager to get his team back on track.

An away victory, along with a Derry win over Clare and a result for Cork against Louth, would see the Dubs seal promotion. They have the crucial head-to-head advantage over nearest-challengers Cork, the Rebels need results to go their way elsewhere. The Sky Blues will look to underline their dominance over the Leinster chasing pack, as the counties face off for the first time in Colm O’Rourke’s reign as Royals boss. 

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