This weekend we welcome back the National Football Leagues after a fortnight’s break. While in hurling, we have three quarter-finals and one relegation play-off to look forward to.
This being the penultimate round of the NFL, we are now coming to the business end of the league. It’s do or die at this stage for the counties chasing promotion, and in particular the counties hoping to avoid relegation.
With the All-Ireland Club Finals on St. Patrick’s Day, all the Allianz League action are being played at various times on Saturday.
It’s a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland Football Final on Saturday evening, as the Dubs welcome Tyrone to Croke Park. This game will be shown live on eir Sport 1 @ 7pm.
Also on Saturday evening Mayo travel to Tralee to take on the in-form Kerry. This game will also be shown live on eir Sport 2 @ 7pm.
NFL Division 1 – Dublin v Tyrone (Throw-in @ 7:00pm, live on eir Sport 1, on 16/03):
These are two teams that made stuttering starts to the league, but are now getting into their stride.
Dublin are now on course to make another league final after a battling win against a sticky Roscommon side in Dr. Hyde Park last time out.
Meanwhile Tyrone, who looked in real danger of being relegated after no wins in their first three games, have now won two on the bounce. These two victories against Ulster rivals Monaghan and Cavan were very impressive indeed, so they now seem to have turned a corner.
Playing the Dubs in Croker however, is a totally different prospect for Mickey Harte’s men, to what they have faced in the past few weeks. I feel they are playing Dublin at a very unfortunate time because the Dubs now have the league final in their sights, and the vast majority of their first-teamers are now back playing.
Peter Harte has been in splendid form for the Red Hand County in the last few weeks. He has been playing most of the league in the inside forward line and he seems to be really getting his bearings in there now. His goal against Monaghan was top quality and he also tried the most audacious chip over Rory Beggan only for it to unluckily hit the wrong side of the post and go wide. If that sublime effort had of went in, it would have been the goal of the league.
Oh baby, check out those soft Richard Donnelly hands as he palms off for Peter Harte's goal 🤤pic.twitter.com/7UV28QxOMO
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) February 23, 2019
Tyrone should make things difficult for the Dubs for a lot of this game, However, in the last quarter of the game I think Dublin’s quality will tell and the introduction of their subs should help them cover the -3 Handicap.
Verdict: Dublin -3 (Handicap Betting) @ 8/13
NFL Division 1 – Kerry v Mayo (Throw-in @ 7:00pm, live on eir Sport 2, on 16/03):
Kerry have been absolutely flying it so far this year. It has been quite surprising how good they have been, especially when you consider the players that haven’t featured yet in the league.
Mayo had started the league with great promise but they have stagnated somewhat in recent weeks. Recent defeats to old foes Galway and Dublin will be a concern for James Horan.
Reports suggest that young Kerry starlet David Clifford and 2014 “Footballer of the Year” James O’Donoghue are nearing their returns for the Kingdom. Tommy Walsh seems to be finding his feet at this level again also. If he can re-discover his 2008 form and with the Dr. Crokes contingent’s return imminent, Kerry’s options could be quite staggering.
Despite losing their last two, Mayo still have a lot to play for in this year’s league. Getting to the league final is still in their own hands, but beating Kerry in Tralee would be a huge ask. If they are to do so, their star players like Aiden O’Shea, Lee Keegan and newly appointed captain Diarmuid O’Connor would need massive performances.
I think Kerry will have too much for Mayo on Saturday. With Seán O’Shea shooting the lights out at the moment and the possible return of David Clifford, they should have enough firepower to cover the -2 Handicap and make it a sixth successive victory in Division 1.
Verdict: Kerry -2 (Handicap Betting) @ 10/11
London v Waterford Verdict: Waterford @ 4/5
Antrim v Wicklow Verdict: Wicklow +2 (Handicap Betting) @ 10/11
Wexford v Limerick Verdict: Wexford @ 8/13
Derry v Leitrim Verdict: Derry @ 4/11
Division 1 Quarter Finals:
Division 1A Relegation Play-Off:
Kilkenny v Cork Verdict: Kilkenny @ 5/6