In the first of our three previews heading into this weekend’s Allianz Football League Finals, we take a look at the Division 4 encounter between Derry and Leitrim which will throw in at 3 pm on Saturday in Croke Park.
For Damien McErlain’s charges, promotion back to Division 3 was nothing short of paramount heading into this year’s league campaign.
Derry football has fallen on hard times in recent years, considering they contested a Division 1 final as recently as 2014, tumbling down the divisions has been a real low point for the Oak Leaf county.
The comeback officially started in January as Derry kicked off life in Division 4 with a one-point win over Ulster rivals Antrim before going on a tear through the division that saw them win seven out of seven games.
Terry Hyland has reinvigorated Leitrim football since coming on board ahead of the 2019 season. Leitrim drew with Mayo in the FBD League before Gaelic football’s first ever penalty shootout resigned them to defeat, however, Hyland’s side took great motivation from that game and were able to carry that momentum into the Allianz Football League.
Their league campaign got off to a strong start when three second-half goals helped them to a 13-point win over Wexford in what turned out to be their biggest winning margin of the campaign.
Leitrim won six out of their seven games with their only defeat coming in a seven-point loss against Derry two weeks ago.
So who is going to take home the silverware this weekend?
If we look at both teams league form it’s clear that there is very little between the two sides. Across the seven group games, Leitrim scored 7-98 (119) and conceded 6-76 (94) whereas Derry notched 10-100 (130) and conceded 9-68 (95).
Derry’s average winning margin across their seven games is 5.3 points, and while Leitrim won only six games, their average winning margin is also 5.3 points.
Really the only thing we have to separate the two sides is the meeting of the pair two weeks ago in Celtic Park when Derry came out with a seven-point victory.
However, it’s important to note that both teams were promoted at this stage so it is likely that they were holding something back, as well as this we have to take it into consideration that Derry were indeed the home side.
Earlier this year we predicted both these teams to get promoted, however, we chose Derry as our eventual Division 4 champions and while it would be remiss of us to backtrack now, we have to.
With a strong crowd expected to turn up in support of Leitrim, not only from inside the county but all over the world we are going to stick our necks on the line here and predict a victory for Terry Hyland’s men by the bare minimum.
Leitrim 2-13 Derry 1-15