Kerry legend Colm Cooper believes Donegal and Galway are capable of becoming part of the “top four” counties in Gaelic football.
Tyrone, Mayo, Dublin and Kerry were last year’s provincial champions and have arguably been the strongest sides in the country for quite a while, as Donegal’s 2014 final appearance was the last time a county outside of those four played in an All-Ireland final.
Results in the Allianz League make for similar reading, as Dublin, Kerry and Mayo have shared the last nine Division One titles between them, although there has been more variety among the finalists compared to the All-Ireland Championship.
Cooper was speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland and backed Donegal and Galway to make a big impression in 2022, with both having underperformed in recent years.
Colm Cooper on Donegal and Galway’s chances in 2022.
“The top four has been quite settled for the last number of years with Kerry, Dublin, Tyrone and Mayo, so that should continue, but the two teams that are capable of breaking into that are Donegal and Galway,” Cooper said.
“Donegal have flattered to deceive a bit over the last couple of years, they’ve got into great positions to qualify for semi-finals, and even if you go back to the Super 8s, they’ve let opportunities slip. But I think they’ll be gunning for 2022.
“Galway are in Division Two, they’re a sleeping giant in football and Pádraic Joyce has been there for the last couple of years, the Under-20s won the All-Ireland a couple of years ago, so it is time for them to stand up and make a real statement in 2022.”
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Allianz League kicks off this weekend.
The inter-county Gaelic football season proper kicks off this weekend, as all 32 teams across all four divisions begin their Allianz League campaigns.
There will arguably be more interest in the league than usual this year, as last year’s competition was delayed and truncated for Covid-related reasons, and Dublin head into the tournament not as reigning All-Ireland champions for the first time since 2015.
Dublin and Kerry shared last year’s Allianz League Division One title, but they’ll have no shortage of competition, as both counties were ejected at the semi-final stage in last year’s All-Ireland Championship.
Mayo return to Division One, having been relegated from the top flight in 2020, while Kildare will play in the first division for the first time since 2018.