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Winners and losers - Who's flying or struggling after start of Allianz football league?

The four divisions are slowly taking shape – with some teams doing far better than expected, and others flattering to deceive.
Feb 13th 2017, 4:00 PM 9,720 3

TWO DOWN, FIVE to go in the group stages of the Allianz Football League.

It’s still early days as the four divisions take shape but we’ve already been provided with some early-season clues as to how the various counties are shaping up.

Kildare, Louth, Waterford and Wexford are the only teams boasting 100 per cent records while Roscommon, Down, Antrim, Limerick and Wicklow have yet to register a single point.

Here, we take a look at the winners and losers from the first 2 rounds of the League campaign….

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Winners

Dublin

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The reigning League and All-Ireland champions took their unbeaten run across both competitions to 31 games with a hard-earned draw against Tyrone on Saturday evening.

Jim Gavin’s men registered the last five points of the game to keep that record intact and the manner in which they did it was hugely encouraging for their manager.

Publicly, Dublin will say it’s a ‘game by game’ approach but they’re keenly aware of the history they’re creating and obviously hellbent on keeping that streak going.

Kildare

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Two from two for Kildare as they target a return to the top flight.

Promoted from Division 3 last year, the Lilywhites have wasted little time in making their intentions clear in the second tier.

Cian O’Neill’s men followed up their opening day victory over Meath with an impressive win over Cork on Sunday – and lead at the head of affairs on four points.

Clare

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Having scrapped to an opening day draw away to Derry, the Clare footballers collected their first win of the Division 2 campaign against Down at Cusack Park on Sunday.

Consolidation is surely the aim for Colm Collins and his players and they’re certainly going the right way about it.

Galway away from home in Clare’s next outing is another test for a developing Banner County outfit and a positive result would keep them clear of the relegation scrap – and looking upwards.

Louth

Colin Kelly Louth senior football manager Colin Kelly. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Reaching the O’Byrne Cup final has certainly proven beneficial to Louth.

Their 2-16 to 0-9 victory in round 1 of a fiercely-competitive Division 3 was an eye-catching result but a gritty one-point victory over Longford on Sunday proves that they can tough it out too.

Next up for the Wee County is an away fixture against Offaly and, on paper, it’s another fixture they can take something from to maintain a promotion push.

Waterford

Tom McGlinchey Waterford manager Tom McGlinchey. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Waterford’s hurlers grabbed the headlines with victory over Kilkenny on Sunday but spare a thought for the county’s footballers, currently riding high in Division 4.

The Déise started their campaign with an emphatic victory over London and backed that up with a weekend success against Wicklow.

Waterford’s next outing is their toughest to date, as they travel to Wexford in a top-of-the-table clash.

Wexford

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

And that leads us nicely to Wexford, under the stewardship of high-profile boss Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney.

The Model men opened up with a home victory over Limerick before defeating Leitrim on their travels to Carrick-on-Shannon.

And if they can take maximum points from the visit of Waterford, Wexford will have clear daylight in the race for Division 3 football next season.

Losers

Roscommon

Source: Presseye/INPHO

Two games, two defeats and already deep in relegation trouble.

Manager Kevin McStay is also speaking publicly about the travails of his players, after Niall Daly took himself off the panel before Sunday’s defeat to Donegal.

It certainly appears that all is not right in the Roscommon camp and a positive result is imperative against Connacht rivals Mayo in round 3, a game scheduled for 25 February in Castlebar.

Down

Eamonn Burns It's been a tough start for Down and their manager, Eamonn Burns. Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

Down haven’t won a game in League or championship since April 2015 and after dropping from the top flight last year, they’re staring relegation in the face again.

Losing at home to Fermanagh, managed by their former All-Ireland winning boss Pete McGrath, will have hurt Down and they were abject against Clare at Cusack Park.

The visit of Meath on 25 February already has that ‘must-win’ feel about it as Down target an end to their miserable losing streak.

Cork

Peadar Healy Cork manager Peadar Healy. Source: Mike Shaughnessy/INPHO

Cork slipped out of Division 1 last year with barely a whimper but had been expected to challenge for promotion back to the elite.

It’s been a tough start for the Rebels and while they managed an encouraging draw against Galway, they lost well to Kildare in round 2.

It’s Fermanagh at home next time out for Cork and that won’t be easy as Pete McGrath’s side aim to bounce back after defeat to Galway.

Armagh

Kieran McGeeney Kieran McGeeney's Armagh are making a habit of throwing away big leads. Source: Presseye/Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

In a topsy-turvy Division 3, Armagh claimed a draw against Sligo in their opening game but should have had maximum points.

Armagh were six points clear and coasting before Adrian Marren’s late penalty earned a point for Sligo.

And against Laois at the weekend, Armagh let a lead slip again as the visitors came from behind to win.

Tipperary 

Liam Kearns Tipperary manager Liam Kearns. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Tipp were favourites with the bookies to claim promotion from Division 3 but their form has been patchy to date.

A poor first half display against Antrim was followed up by a much-improved display after half-time to earn a comfortable win first time out.

But Tipp couldn’t claw back a ten-point second half deficit against Sligo on Sunday – and dropped two costly points in the race for Division 2.

Limerick

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Billy Lee looked to be going places with Limerick when the new manager guided the Shannonsiders to a McGrath Cup final appearance – with Kerry needing extra-time before winning out.

But it’s been a disappointing League start for the Treaty men, admittedly against strong opponents in Wexford away and Westmeath at home.

Carlow away from home next time out gives Limerick a chance to get points on the board but with themselves and Wicklow on zero points after two rounds, promotion seems an unlikely target even at this early juncture for Lee’s men.

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