After a long winter, competitive GAA action returns this weekend as the curtain raises on the Allianz Football League. While pre-league tournaments have raised the hopes for some and fears for others, the waiting is now over.
The dominance of Dublin continues to be the big talking point. The pressure is on their fellow Division 1 teams to raise their game, as Kerry, Cavan, Monaghan, Tyrone, Mayo, Donegal and Roscommon would all relish the opportunity to take down the Boys in Blue.
Cork’s relegation to Division 2 is sure to have wounded many football fans in a county so steeped in GAA tradition. However, Clare and Galway will also have ambitions of moving into the top flight and should not be written off.
Division 3 is shaping up to be a titanic struggle. High-flying Tipperary will be hoping to gain promotion over recently-relegated Armagh, while few will doubt that Laois will have their say in the fight for promotion.
Finally, in Division 4, Westmeath and Limerick will both harbour ambitions of promotion following disappointing division 3 campaigns last year. Similarly, Wexford will be hoping to go one better and climb up to the next rung of the football ladder.
The opening weekend has a feast in store for fans with some very competitive games in the offing. Here are the games taking place:
Saturday 4th Feb
Mayo v Monaghan, McHale Park, 7pm (Live on Eir Sport 2HD)
Down v Fermanagh, Pairc Esler, 7pm (Live on Eir Sport 2)
Laois v Louth, O’Moore Park, 7pm (Live on Eir Sport 1)
Sunday 5th Feb
Cavan v Dublin, Breffni Park, 2pm (Live on TG4)
Donegal v Kerry, Letterkenny, 2pm
Tyrone v Roscommon, Healy Park, 2pm
Derry v Clare, Celtic Park, 2pm
Galway v Cork, Pearse Stadium, 2pm
Meath v Kildare, Pairc Tailteann, 2pm
Longford v Offaly, Pearse Park, 2pm
Sligo v Armagh, Markievicz Park, 2pm
Tipperary v Antrim, Semple Stadium, 2pm
Waterford v London, Lemybrien, 1pm
Westmeath v Carlow, Cusack Park, 2pm
Wicklow v Leitrim, Aughrim, 2pm
Wexford v Limerick, Wexford Park, 2pm
A feast of action awaits!
John Fitzpatrick, Pundit Arena