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Explainer: What's at stake for each county in the last two rounds of the GAA football league?

After a long break the Allianz football league is set to return this weekend.

Image: INPHO

OVER SEVEN MONTHS after Armagh played Fermanagh, in a fixture re-arranged due to an unplayable pitch the week previous, the Allianz football league is set to return this weekend.

It’s been a lengthy Covid-19 enforced break between the Round 5 and 6 games across the four divisions. That win for the Orchard County in Division 2 occurred on Saturday 7 March with most county sides having last played a league game on the weekend of 29 February-1 March.

So how do things stand across the four divisions? As of now, despite increasing uncertainty, the last two rounds of fixtures are pencilled in across the four divisions over the next two weekends in October.

Some changes have been made with no football league finals to be played and the top team in each division is set to be declared the winner of that league. In addition travel restrictions have removed London from the equation in Division 4 with Waterford and Carlow to receive walkovers from their planned games.

But there are still promotion and relegation issues at stake, of greater significance to those in Division 2 and 3 given the consequences for future participation in the race for Sam Maguire. A reminder if two teams are tied on points the head-to-head rule applies but if there are three teams tied, then scoring difference is the determining factor.

Here’s the current state of play.

Division 1

Meath are already relegated with Galway the pace-setters, just ahead of Kerry, with the aim of earning bragging rights as the top-ranked team. The new football championship knockout format makes the Donegal-Tyrone meeting next Sunday, a fortnight before their Ulster clash, of particular interest.

The main focus will be who is relegated along with Meath. In seventh place Mayo’s status is in greatest jeopardy. They play Galway on Sunday and will be chasing a positive outcome. Earlier in the year they drew with Donegal and lost to Monaghan, the two teams ahead of James Horan’s side and their scoring difference of -15 could be another issue.

Standings

  • 1. Galway (8 pts), 2. Kerry (7 pts), 3. Tyrone (6 pts), 4. Dublin (6 pts), 5. Donegal (5 pts), 6. Monaghan (5 pts), 7. Mayo (3 pts), 8. Meath (0 pts).

Fixtures

  • 17 Oct: Monaghan v Kerry, 2pm; Dublin v Meath, 7pm.
  • 18 Oct: Galway v Mayo, 2pm; Donegal v Tyrone, 4pm.
  • 24 Oct: Kerry v Donegal, 2pm.
  • 25 Oct: Galway v Dublin; Mayo v Tyrone; Monaghan v Meath – (all 2pm).

james-horan Mayo boss James Horan Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Division 2

The second tier is a logjam. Every side apart from Fermanagh is still in the promotion race and the relegation scrap is just as congested. In the battle for promotion next Saturday’s game between Armagh and Roscommon looks a key one. The Rossies also still have to play third-placed Cavan.

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Fermanagh have the added headache over player availability after a number within their panel returned positive tests. If their game goes ahead against Clare on Sunday, a defeat would see them make the drop to Division 3.

Standings

  • 1. Armagh (7 pts), 2. Roscommon (7 pts), 3. Cavan (6 pts), 4. Westmeath (5 pts), 5. Laois (5 pts), 6. Clare (4 pts), 7. Kildare (4 pts), 8. Fermanagh (2 pts).

Fixtures

  • 17 Oct: Westmeath v Laois, 2pm; Armagh v Roscommon, 5.30pm.
  • 18 Oct: Clare v Fermanagh, 1pm; Kildare v Cavan, 2pm.
  • 24 Oct: Cavan v Roscommon; Clare v Armagh; Kildare v Westmeath; Fermanagh v Laois – (all 2pm).

ryan-mcmenamin Fermanagh manager Ryan McMenamin Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Division 3

Cork are in pole position for promotion with a perfect record from their five games to date. Ronan McCarthy’s side only need a point from their last two matches to guarantee they go up and could seal it at home to Louth on Saturday.

Down and Longford are next in line in the push to secure Division 2 football next season. Down’s success over Longford when the teams met last February could prove important if the teams are tied.

At the bottom, Louth know a loss on Saturday will see them relegated and they must win their last two games. Tipperary and Leitrim face each other in the last round in a match that could be important in determining who avoids the drop.

Standings

  • 1. Cork (10 pts), 2. Down (7 pts), 3. Longford (7 pts), 4. Derry (5 pts), 5. Offaly (5 pts), 6. Tipperary (3 pts), 7. Leitrim (3 pts), 8. Louth (o pts).

Fixtures

  • 17 Oct: Cork v Louth, 4pm; Down v Leitrim, 4pm; Derry v Longford, 4.30pm.
  • 18 Oct: Tipperary v Offaly, 1pm.
  • 25 Oct: Longford v Cork; Louth v Down; Leitrim v Tipperary; Offaly v Derry – (all 2pm).

Division 4

The fight to go up from the division is tightly contested with just two points separating Limerick on top and Sligo in fifth. A couple of this weekend’s fixtures are likely to be key in confirming who will advance with Wicklow entertaining Antrim on Saturday and Limerick hosting Wexford on Sunday.

Standings

  • 1. Limerick (8 pts), 2. Antrim (7 pts), 3. Wexford (6 pts), 4. Wicklow (6 pts), 5. Sligo (6 pts), 6. Carlow (4 pts), 7. Waterford (3 pts), 8. London (o pts).

Fixtures

  • 17 Oct: Wicklow v Antrim, 12.30pm; Carlow v Sligo, 5pm.
  • 18 Oct: Limerick v Wexford, 1pm. 
  • 24 Oct: Antrim v Waterford; Sligo v Limerick; Wexford v Wicklow – (all 2pm).

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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