The 2019 Allianz Football League looks set to go down as one of the most exciting campaigns in recent history.
Across each of the four divisions, there have been twists and turns aplenty and the promotion/relegation battle has become even more unpredictable than imagined back in January.
In Division 1, the bottom five are separated by just two points, while it’s the opposite in Division 2 as the top five are just one win away from leapfrogging each other.
The top of Division 3 has changed week on week, while there’s a real dogfight at the bottom of Division 4 as no county wishes to take home the figurative ‘wooden spoon’.
As things begin to heat up down the home stretch, we take a look at some of the key talking points heading into Round Five of the Allianz Football League.
Who Is Going Down In Division 1?
Cavan’s win last week over Roscommon blew the whole division wide open. Before then, the Breffni men were winless and staring down the barrel of a second relegation in three seasons. They are still in the relegation zone where they are joined by local rivals, Monaghan, who have taken a nose dive since downing Dublin on the opening day of the season.
Roscommon performed well in their opening couple of games, narrowly losing to Mayo before beating Monaghan and drawing with Tyrone. Their defeat last week, however, has all of sudden landed them in trouble and they will be desperate to get out and remain in the top-tier.
Last year’s All-Ireland finalists, Tyrone, steadied the ship last week by defeating Monaghan in Healy Park. Mickey Harte will be hoping that they can kick on now from that win. Their match-up with Cavan this weekend is now a vital game for both counties.
Can Kerry, Leitrim and Derry Keep It Going?
Only three teams remain with their winning start full intact. It’s been a dream start to his career as Kerry manager for Peter Keane, the former minor manager has managed to beat Tyrone, Cavan, Dublin and Galway in their opening four games. They face a struggling Monaghan side this weekend and it’s hard to see them not going five from five and pushing on towards a League final.
Derry will have felt they were too good to be operating in Division 4 after their shock relegation last year and they have proven that point thus far. They’ve beaten Antrim, London, Waterford and Wicklow and are poised to jump straight back into Division 3. Whether they remain unbeaten throughout remains to be seen.
Leitrim have become the story of the league so far. For so long the minnow county, Terry Hyland’s side have blazed a trail through the fourth tier so far and have done it the hard way with a couple of come-from-behind victories late on.
The real test for Leitrim will come in a few weeks time when they face up to Derry before more than likely taking them on again in the League final in what will be a rare appearance for the Shannonsiders in Croke Park.
Will Meath and Fermanagh Do It?
Division 2 has always been a notoriously tight division with next to nothing separating the eight teams. However, you would have been hard-pressed to find anybody backing Meath and Fermanagh to occupy the promotion spots with three games to go.
Andy McEntee’s Meath have won three of their four games taking the scalps of Tipperary, Armagh and Cork. The Royals arguably should be out in front on their own as they led Donegal for the entire game before letting two points slip away in the final ten minutes.
Fermanagh remain undefeated in the league so far. They drew their opening two games with Cork and Tipperary before going on to defeat Kildare and Donegal in back-to-back rounds. It’s been an incredible run so far for Rory Gallagher’s side as they’ve already faced arguably the leagues two toughest sides on paper and come out on the right side.
The pair don’t face each other until the final round of games and similar to Leitrim and Derry they could already be booked into a league final meeting with each other by then.
The Division 3 Conundrum
The third tier of the Allianz Football League is anybody’s guess really.
The top spot has changed week on week as each of the teams in the division continue to beat each other. The only thing that we can predict with any real certainty is that Sligo look to be headed for the basement division.
Two points separate the top five teams and a win this weekend will be vital going into the final two weeks.
Laois against Longford is the real mouthwatering tie here. Longford began last week in top spot fell to Down at home. They will be looking to keep themselves in the promotion race with a win over Laois who also dropped points last weekend against Westmeath.