Preview: Allianz Football League Division Three
Allianz Football League Division Three
Saturday March 25
Armagh v Antrim, Athletic Grounds, 7pm
Two splendid Armagh displays have been rewarded with wins over Offaly and Louth as Kieran McGeeney’s team stay in the hunt for promotion.
Armagh registered 3-15 when defeating table toppers Louth at the Gaelic Grounds in Drogheda. "We scored well and it was a good day, but the bottom line is that we are still third and they are still top, so we still have a lot of work to do," McGeeney stated.
"It was a very pleasing performance, but it is only two points. I'd be very surprised if Louth aren't in Division 2 next season."
Ciaran McKeever, Niall Rowland, and Jamie Clarke all netted goals for Armagh against Louth.
Antrim boosted their survival hopes with a gritty, CJ McGourty inspired, triumph against Laois at Corrigan Park.
Joint manager Frank Fitzsimons reckons one more victory from their remaining games will be enough to avoid relegation.
“We said at the start of the year we thought six points was the magic number and we hope it still is. We still need two points to, hopefully, stay up.”
ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes; Gregory McCabe, Charlie Vernon, Paul Hughes; Niall Rowland, Brendan Donaghy, Aaron McKay; Aaron Findon, Stephen Sheridan; Niall Grimley, Anto Duffy, Rory Grugan; Gavin McParland, Stefan Campbell, Jamie Clarke.
Laois v Longford, O’Moore Park, 7pm, Live on eir Sport
It promises to be a keenly contested affair in Portlaoise with two teams burdened by relegation worries clashing.
Laois have lost four of their five matches with last Sunday’s defeat to Antrim a bitterly disappointing result.
At the same time Longford, with Seanie McCormack prominent, eked out a valuable victory against Sligo – adding two points to their account.
The influential Donie Kingston and Stephen Attride are injury doubts for Laois, who will be sound defensively considering McCormack’s finishing prowess from frees.
"It's great to see Sean do that," Longford manager Dennis Connerton said following McCormack’s seven point haul against Sligo.
"We have huge belief in the man. Everyone in Longford shares that belief. He is a great guy. It took him a while to get back into the pace again. The two second half points were hugely precious for us."
LAOIS: Graham Brody; Darren Strong, Denis Booth, James Kelly; Eoin Buggie, Colm Begley, Padraig McMahon; John O'Loughlin, Kevin Meaney; James Finn, David Conway, Niall Donoher; Alan Farrell, Evan O'Carroll, Paul Kingston.
Sunday March 26
Sligo v Offaly, Markievicz Park, 3pm
A solid start to the League ensured Sligo occupied a healthy position, but losses to Antrim and Longford have been a setback.
Manager Niall Carew now admits that Sligo need to pick up ‘at least one point’ to avoid relegation.
“I think promotion is out of our hands now, we need to bank on other teams to beat each other,” Carew says about Sligo’s prospects.
“I know Tipp have to play Armagh in the last game and Tipp have to play Louth in the next game so it’s out of our hands now.
“We just have to make sure we stay in the Division. We have to pick up at least one point, our score difference is good for that. It’s going to be all to play for.”
That is certainly the case for Offaly too, the Faithful produced a much improved display, but ultimately lost against Tipperary last weekend.
Now Pat Flanagan’s charges need a positive result and the game in the north west will be revealing for both teams.
SLIGO: Aidan Devaney; Ross Donavan, Kevin McDonnell, Noel Gaughan; Charlie Harrison, Neil Ewing, Keelan Cawley; Stephen Gilmartin, Adrian McIntyre; Eoin McHugh, Niall Murphy, John Kelly; Stephen Coen, Pat Hughes, Adrian Marren.
Tipperary v Louth, Semple Stadium, 3pm
The battle of the top two in Thurles. Can Tipperary maintain their efficient form? How will Louth respond to their loss to Armagh?
With Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh gaining in belief and momentum, Tipperary and Louth both need to get more points on the board.
Tipperary face Armagh next so two demanding matches loom for Liam Kearns’ outfit, who finished strongly to beat Offaly in Tullamore.
Michael Quinlivan’s classy goal was the key score for the Premier County, but Louth will want to recapture the form that saw them stitch a four match winning sequence together.
Colin Kelly’s rapidly developing team operated in Division Four last year, but they want to be in Division Two in 2018.
TIPPERARY: Evan Comerford; Alan Campbell, Paddy Codd, Willie Connors; Bill Maher, Robbie Kiely, Jimmy Feehan; Liam Casey, Jack Kennedy; Josh Keane, Kevin O'Halloran, Brian Fox; Conor Sweeney, Michael Quinlivan, Liam McGrath.