And so to the action! Fifteen games (London are not participating in Division 4 due to travel restrictions) are on the eagerly-awaited programme for the opening round of the Allianz Football League next weekend.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 1 SOUTH: HOME LAUNCH FOR KINGDOM’S TITLE DEFENCE
Saturday: Kerry v Galway, Tralee, 3.0
Sunday: Roscommon v Dublin, Dr. Hyde Park, 1.45
Kerry begin the defence of the title against Galway, whose last title win (Division 1) was all of 40 years ago when they beat Roscommon in the 1981 final. Kerry have home advantage against Galway for a second successive year, having beaten the Tribesmen by a point in Austin Stack Park last year. They also beat Galway by a point in 2019, having lost by three a year earlier. Galway finished third on the table last year.
Roscommon and Dublin last met in the League two years ago when the Dubs won by five points. Roscommon were relegated at the end of that campaign but bounced straight back last year, topping Division 2 after taking 11 of a possible 14 points.
Kerry (winners); Played 7, Won 5, Drew 1, Lost 1
Galway (third): Played 7, Won 4, Lost 3
Dublin (second); Played 7, Won 4, Drew 2, Lost 1.
Roscommon (Div 2 winners); Played 7, Won 5, Drew 1, Lost 1.
FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 1 NORTH: ULSTER ALL THE WAY
Saturday: Tyrone v Donegal, Omagh, 5.0
Sunday; Monaghan v Armagh, Brewster Park, 3.0
Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher begin their term as new joint managers of Tyrone, who are bidding to win the Division 1 title for the first time since 2003, which was also Mickey Harte’s first season in charge. Dooher featured at right half-forward on the Tyrone team which also won the League title in 2002.
Donegal, who last won the Division 1 title in 2007, beat Tyrone in last year’s League and Ulster championship.
Donegal (fifth): Played 7, Won 3, Drew 1, Lost 3
Tyrone (fourth): Played 7, Won 4, Lost 3.
Monaghan (sixth): Played 7, Won 2, Drew 2, Lost 3.
Armagh (second Div 2): Played 7, Won 4, Drew 1, Lost 2.
FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 2 SOUTH: REBELS’ RISE TO CONTINUE?
Saturday: Cork v Kildare, Semple Stadium, 3.30
Sunday: Clare v Laois, Ennis, 4.0
Cork won all seven games in Division 3 last year while Kildare won four of seven when finishing third in Division 2. The counties last met in the League two years ago when Kildare won by 1-10 to 0-10 in Division 2.
Laois and Clare finished fifth and sixth respectively in Division 2 last year, with Laois winning the head-to-head clash by a point in Ennis.
Cork (Div 3 winners): Played 7, Won 7
Kildare (third): Played 7, Won 4, Lost 3.
Laois (fifth): Played 7, Won 3, Drew 1, Lost 3.
Clare (sixth): Played 7, Won 3, Lost 4.
FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 2 NORTH: MAYO’S FIRST DIVISON 2 ACTION FOR 24 YEARS
Saturday: Mayo v Down, Elverys MacHale Park, 2.0
Sunday: Meath v Westmeath, Pairc Tailteann, 3.45
This is a very interesting group, featuring the two counties (Mayo, Meath) who were relegated from Division 1 last year, Down who were promoted from Division 3 and Westmeath, who finished fourth in Division 2.
This is the first year since 1997 that Mayo are in Division 2, having enjoyed the longest spell of any county in the top flight since then before dropping out after taking only five of 14 points last year. Meath fared even worse, taking only one point from seven games.
Mayo (seventh Div 1): Played 7, Won 2, Drew 1 Lost 4.
Down (second Div 3): Played 7, Won 4, Drew 1, Lost 2.
Meath (bottom Div 1): Played 7, Won 0, Drew 1, Lost 6.
Westmeath (fourth Div 2): Played 7, Won 3, Dree 1 Lost 3.
FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 3 SOUTH: HOW WILL LIMERICK FARE AT HIGHER LEVEL?
Saturday: Limerick v Tipperary, LIT Gaelic Grounds, 5.0
Sunday: Wicklow v Offaly, Aughrim, 2.0
Limerick mark their return to Division 3 for the first time since 2016 with an appetising clash against Tipperary who pulled off a sensational success in last year’s Munster championship. Tipp finished fifth in Division 3 last year. Wicklow are back in Division 3 for the first time since 2013, where they will begin their campaign against Offaly.
Limerick (first Div 4); Played 7, Won 5, Lost 2
Tipperary (fifth): Played 7, Won3, Drew 1, Lost 3
Wicklow: (second Div 4): Played 7, Won 5, Lost 2
Offaly (sixth): Played 7, Won 2, Drew 1, Lost 4.
FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 3 NORTH: CAN THE ULSTER CHAMPIONS WIN PROMOTION?
Saturday: Longford v Derry, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 5.0; Fermanagh v Cavan, Brewster Park, 7.0
Despite being relegated last year, Cavan go into the new season on a high after their big success in the Ulster championship last November. It came after a disappointing Division 2 campaign where they finished second last and were relegated with Fermanagh. Cavan beat Fermanagh by three points in last year’s League.
Derry came close to winning promotion last year but were squeezed out for second place by Down. Derry beat Longford by eight points in their Round 6 clash.
Longford (fourth): Played 7, Won 3, Drew 1, Lost 3
Derry (third): Played 7, Won 4, Drew 1, Lost 2.
Fermanagh (bottom Div 2): Played 7, Won 1, Lost 6
Cavan (seventh Div 2) Played 7, Won 3, Lost 4
FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 4 SOUTH
Saturday: Waterford v Carlow, Fraher Field, 7.0
With London not competing this year, it’s a three-team group (Waterford, Carlow, Wexford).
Wexford sit it out next weekend, leaving Waterford and Carlow to begin the campaign. They drew (2-14 each) in Dungarvan in last year’s League.
Carlow (fifth): Played 7, Won 3, Drew 2, Lost 2.
Waterford (seventh): Played 7, Won 2, Drew 1, Lost 4
Wexford (fourth): Played 7, Won 4, Lost 3.
FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 4 NORTH
Saturday: Louth v Antrim, Geraldines GFC, Dundalk, 3.0
Sunday: Sligo v Leitrim, Markievicz Park, 3.0
New territory for Mickey Harte, who takes charge of Louth for the first time after 18 seasons as Tyrone manager. Louth dropped out of Division 3 after losing six of seven games last year and begin their bid for promotion against Antrim, who finished third in Division 4 last year.
Leitrim, who were also relegated from Division 3 last year, start their campaign against neighbours, Sligo who have won only three of their last 14 League games.
Louth (eighth Div 3): Played 7, Won 1, Lost 6.
Antrim: (third): Played 7, Won 4, Drew 1, Lost 2
Sligo (sixth): Played 7 Won 3, Lost 4.
Leitrim (seventh Div 3): Played 7, Won 1, Drew 1, Lost 5.
ALLIANZ LEAGUE SHORTS
Kerry are unbeaten in the opening round for the last four seasons, drawing with Dublin last year and beating Tyrone (2019), Donegal 2018 and 2017. Their most recent first round defeat was against Dublin in 2016.
Galway are seeking their fourth successive first round win since returning to Division 1 in 2018. They beat Tyrone (2018), Cavan (2019), Monaghan (2020).
Dublin have a good first round record, winning three, drawing one and losing once over the last five years. The only defeat was against Monaghan in 2019.
Mayo are in Division 2 for the first time since 1997. Prior to being relegated last year, they had the longest run of any county in Division 1.
Cork and Down, who were promoted from Division 3 at the end of last season, are bidding to return to Division 1 since 2016 when both were relegated from the top flight.
FOOTBALL LEAGUE 2021 – RESULTS AND FIXTURES
DIVISION 1 SOUTH
Round 1: May 15: Kerry v Galway; May 16: Roscommon v Dublin.
Round 2: May 23: Dublin v Kerry; Galway v Roscommon.
Round 3: May 30: Galway v Dublin; Roscommon v Kerry.
DIVISION 1 NORTH
Round 1: May 15: Tyrone v Donegal; May 16: Monaghan v Armagh.
Round 2: May 22: Donegal v Monaghan; Armagh v Tyrone
Round 3: May 29: Armagh v Donegal; Tyrone v Monaghan.
DIVISION 2 SOUTH
Round 1: May 15: Cork v Kildare; May 16: Clare v Laois.
Round 2: May 22: Laois v Cork; May 23: Kildare v Clare
Round 3: May 30: Laois v Kildare; Clare v Cork.
DIVISION 2 NORTH
Round 1: May 15: Mayo v Down; May 16: Meath v Westmeath.
Round 2: May 22: Westmeath v Mayo; May 23: Down v Meath.
Round 3: May 30: Mayo v Meath; Westmeath v Down.
DIVISION 3 SOUTH
Round 1: May 15: Limerick v Tipperary; May 16: Wicklow v Offaly.
Round 2: May 22: Offaly v Limerick; Tipperary v Wicklow.
Round 3: May 29: Offaly v Tipperary; Wicklow v Limerick.
DIVISION 3 NORTH
Round 1: May 15: Longford v Derry; Fermanagh v Cavan.
Round 2: May 22: Derry v Fermanagh; Cavan v Longford.
Round 3: May 29: Cavan v Derry; Fermanagh v Longford.
DIVISION 4 NORTH
Round 1: May 15: Louth v Antrim; May 16: Sligo v Leitrim.
Round 2: May 23: Leitrim v Louth; Antrim v Sligo.
Round 3: May 30: Antrim v Leitrim; Louth v Sligo.
DIVISION 4 SOUTH
Round 1: May 15: Waterford v Carlow
Round 2: May 22: Wexford v Waterford
Round 3: May 29: Carlow v Wexford