Preview and predictions for the play-off stages of the Gaelic football league

Promotion and relegation to be decided in the Gaelic football leagues.

We have compiled a preview ahead of the play-off stages of the Gaelic football leagues. 15 matches will take place over the course of the weekend and we have looked at each game individually.

The league is almost more important than the championship for a lot of football counties so there should be some excellent matches to look forward to.

Tyrone aim for first knock-out win over Kerry in 13 years.

Division one semi-finals.

Kerry vs Tyrone, Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, 5 pm, Conor Lane (Cork), TG4.

There is a lot more at stake for Tyrone here than there is for Kerry. Tyrone will be in a league final if they win whilst Kerry can’t compete in the decider due to scheduling issues.

The Ulster side beat Mayo, Kerry and Dublin when they won the 2008 All-Ireland though they have not defeated any of those sides in a knock-out game since, in either the league or the championship.

David Clifford is unstoppable when he hits form and the Fossa sharpshooter should see Kerry over the line here.

Verdict: Kerry.

Dublin vs Donegal, Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan, 7:15 pm, Ciaran Branagan (Down), TG4.

Donegal have not beaten Dublin since the famous 2014 All-Ireland semi-final when Jim McGuinness’s side shocked the GAA world.

Donegal play in the first round of the Ulster Championship on the 27th June so they will not compete in a league final if they win.

Michael Murphy is absent for Declan Bonner’s side and Dublin will fancy their chances of stretching their 10 game unbeaten run.

Verdict: Dublin.

Cork hope to avoid relegation back to division three.

Division two relegation play-offs.

Cork vs Westmeath, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Cork, 2 pm, Cormac Reilly (Meath), GAAGO.

Cork were very flat against Kildare in round one of the league but bounced back superbly with victories over Laois and Clare.

Ronan McCarthy’s charges are unlucky to be in a relegation play-off after winning two matches. Westmeath have lost their last five games though the performances have been better than results would suggest.

Cork away might be a step too far for Jack Cooney’s side though.

Verdict: Cork.

Down vs Laois, Pairc Esler, Newry, 6:15 pm, Jerome Henry (Mayo), GAAGO.

Down were very poor in their opening two league games against Mayo and Meath but were impressive when defeating Westmeath in their last match.

Laois can take very few positives from their league campaign on the other hand and were comfortably beaten in every game.

Down have home advantage with up to 500 supporters allowed to attend matches in Northern Ireland. Paddy Tally’s side should have too much for Laois.

Verdict: Down.

Derry looking for their fourth win on the trot to secure promotion.

Division three semi-finals.

Derry vs Limerick, Avant Money Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada, Carrick-on-Shannon, 4 pm, Noel Mooney (Cavan), GAAGO.

Derry have been one of the best teams of the league across all four divisions. The Ulster side won their three group games playing some excellent football along the way.

Shane McGuigan is one of the best footballers in the country and is in the form of his life. Limerick are a county who are continually making progress.

They would have been pleased to have avoided relegation as Billy Lee’s charges were only promoted in 2020.  Rory Gallagher’s side should be too strong for Limerick.

Verdict: Derry.

Offaly vs Fermanagh, Bord Na Mona O’Connor Park, Tullamore, 6 pm, Patrick Maguire (Longford), GAAGO.

Offaly hurlers secured promotion last weekend and their football counterparts are one game away from replicating that feat.

John Maughan has made huge strides with the midlands side since taking over ahead of the 2019 season and they go into this match as favourites.

Eoin Donnelly was replaced with an injury during Fermanagh’s clash with Derry and Ryan McMenamin would love to have him available for selection here.

Donnelly and Sean Quigley are two of Fermanagh’s best players. The 2018 Ulster finalists will need both of them firing if they’re going to win this game.

Offaly have won their last three matches and will fancy themselves to secure promotion. The Leinster side have never been in division two since the new league format was implemented in 2008.

Verdict: Offaly.

Ulster champions must beat Wicklow to avoid the drop.

Division three relegation play-offs.

Cavan vs Wicklow, Pairc Tailteann, Navan, 2 pm, Barry Judge (Sligo), GAAGO.

The 2020 Ulster and Munster champions both find themselves in a relegation play-off. Mickey Graham is an excellent manager but he has always really prioritised the championship over the league.

Cavan have been relegated twice in the past two seasons and a third successive relegation would be disastrous.

The Ulster champions should not be in division four and Cavan should have more than enough for Wicklow.

Verdict: Cavan.

Division four semi-finals.

Carlow vs Louth, Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow, 4 pm, Barry Tiernan (Dublin), GAAGO.

When Mickey Harte was appointed manager of Louth in November one of his main short-term remits would have been to secure promotion out of division four.

If Louth beat Carlow on Saturday they will be promoted. Carlow emerged victorious when the teams met in the 2018 Leinster championship and the 2019 national league.

Niall Carew is a very good manager and he has achieved a lot with multiple smaller counties. This will be a very close game of football.

Louth might just do enough to bounce back to division three at the first time of asking.

Verdict: Louth.


Division one relegation play-offs.

Armagh vs Roscommon, Athletic Grounds, Armagh, 3 pm, Sean Hurson (Tyrone), GAAGO.

This is Armagh’s first time competing in the top division since 2012. Kieran McGeeney’s charges have competed relatively well and are unlucky to be in a relegation play-off having only lost one of their three group games.

This is one of the tougher Gaelic football matches to preview.

Roscommon were relegated to division two in 2017 and 2019 and Anthony Cunningham wants to avoid a repeat of that scenario.

Roscommon overcame Armagh in the 2018 championship and in the 2020 league.

Armagh will have a sizeable number of home supporters and may just do enough to get over the line.

Monaghan’s proud survival record is on the line against Galway.

Monaghan vs Galway, St. Tiernach’s Park, Clones, 3:45 pm, David Gough (Meath), TG4.

Outside of Kerry and Dublin, Monaghan are the longest-serving team in the top division. The Ulster side were promoted in 2014 and this is their seventh successive season in the top flight.

Galway were atrocious against Kerry in their first game but bounced back well with good performances against Roscommon and Dublin. Galway overcame Monaghan in the league in 2019 and 2020.

Monaghan have not played as badly as results would suggest though Seamus McEnaney’s side have only won two of their last 12 games between league and championship.

The 2015 Ulster champions might do enough to maintain their excellent top-flight record.

Verdict: Monaghan.

Division two semi-finals.

Clare vs Mayo, Cusack Park, Ennis, 1:45 pm, Niall Cullen (Fermanagh), TG4.

Clare have constantly improved since Colm Collins took over ahead of the 2014 season. In his eighth campaign in charge, Clare have a huge chance to reach division one.

This would be an amazing achievement considering the Banner county were in division four when Collins took over.

Mayo look strong though. James Horan has them constantly improving and the Connacht champions should bounce straight back to the top flight.

Verdict: Mayo.

Kildare and Meath is a difficult Gaelic football match to preview.

Kildare vs Meath, St. Conleth’s Park, Newbridge, 2 pm, Barry Cassidy (Derry), GAAGO.

This game is like an All-Ireland final for both teams. The chances of either toppling Dublin in the Leinster final are very slim or practically non-existent.

Both sides crave a return to the top division. One of the goals given to Jack O’Connor when he was appointed manager of Kildare was to get promoted.

Kildare lost to Meath in the 2020 Leinster championship and in the 2019 league campaign.

The Lilywhites won the u-20 All-Ireland title in 2018 and should have enough scoring forwards to get themselves promoted.

Verdict: Kildare.

Division three relegation play-offs.

Longford vs Tipperary, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 3:45 pm, Seamus Mulhare (Offaly), GAAGO.

Tipperary will be bitterly disappointed to be in a relegation play-off after winning the 2020 Munster championship. Longford away is far from an easy game either and Padraic Davis’s side have a real chance of winning.

David Power had stated publicly that getting promoted out of division three was a huge target for his side but relegation would be a total disaster.

Realistically, the chances of Tipperary defending their provincial title are quite slim so this is definitely the biggest game of the season for both teams. Tipperary may just do enough.

Verdict: Tipperary.

Waterford aiming for their first Gaelic football promotion in 11 years.

Division four semi-final.

Waterford vs Antrim, Fraher Field, Dungarvan, 12:15 pm, David Murnane (Cork), GAAGO.

Waterford footballers have a real chance of getting promoted for the first time since 2010. The Deise are the longest-serving team in division four.

It’s a very long away trip for Antrim having to go to Dungarvan. There will also a home crowd who will be passionate and will really get behind the hosts.

Enda McGinley’s side won their last three games in the group and should be too strong for Waterford.

Verdict: Antrim.

Division four shield semi-final.

Sligo vs Wexford, MW O’Moore Hire Park, Portlaoise, 3 pm, David Hickey (Carlow), GAAGO.

This game is really just about preparation for the championship. There is nothing really at stake in terms of promotion or relegation.

Wexford lost their first two games and Sligo certainly competed better in the group stages. Tony McEntee’s side should have enough here.

Verdict: Sligo.

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