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Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney.
Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney.

Preview: Allianz Football League Division Three


Sunday April 2

Allianz Football League Division Three

Armagh v Tipperary, Athletic Grounds, 2pm

A high stakes battle is imminent at the Athletic Grounds. Armagh know a draw will be enough to secure promotion, Tipperary's brief is to win.

Anything less than a victory means Tipperary will remain in Division Three.

Kieran McGeeney's Armagh have been in fine form stitching a four match winning sequence together.

Tipperary were beaten by both Sligo and Louth at Semple Stadium and that ensures they must glean a win on Sunday.

Ciaran McKeever has impressed in a new full forward role for Armagh according to manager Kieran McGeeney. “Ciaran played very well," McGeeney said following last Saturday's win over Antrim. 

"He’s a good player, a smart player and he got on the ball as much as you could want. 

"He played very well as did Charlie (Vernon), Blaine Hughes made a great save from the penalty and his kick-outs were good too, so there’s a lot of positives from it."

That is certainly the case for Armagh, who are also buoyed up by Jamie Clarke's return to action.

Tipperary were disrupted by a splendid Louth second half display last weekend. The Premier County, though, will be anxious to deliver a performance in this crucial encounter.

ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes; James Morgan, Charlie Vernon, Paul Hughes; Niall Rowland, Brendan Donaghy, Aaron McKay; Aidan Forker, Ben Crealey; Niall Grimley, Gavin McParland, Rory Grugan; Jamie Clarke, Stefan Campbell, Ciaran McKeever.

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.

Louth v Sligo, Drogheda, 2pm

Louth have secured a second consecutive promotion, but they face a Sligo outfit that has been dragged back into relegation trouble.

Niall Carew's team enjoyed a reasonable start to the campaign, but losses to Longford and Offaly have been costly.

The EirGrid Connacht Under 21 Championship Final takes place at Markievicz Park on Saturday evening with a string of Sligo seniors involved.

Sligo have five points on the board and will be monitoring events from the matches in Tullamore and Belfast.

Colin Kelly is thrilled with how much Louth have progressed in the last year and a half.

“Less than 18 months ago we played London in the first match of the National League in Division 4 in Darver and we were atrocious that day and got out by the skin of our teeth," Kelly says.

"I think Jim McEneaney scored a couple of goals and in 18 months we've transformed into a Division 2 team, who is now rightly taking their place in the top half of the country."

Influential Laois forward Donie Kingston.
Influential Laois forward Donie Kingston.

Offaly v Laois, O'Connor Park, Tullamore, 2pm

Since suffering a severe loss to Armagh, Offaly have responded with a couple of gutsy displays.

Offaly were unfortunate not to get anything from their game with Tipperary, but they did enough to defeat Sligo last weekend.

"We have given ourselves a fighting chance of staying up, that is what we wanted to do because our backs were against the wall," Flanagan says.

Neighbours Laois, though, are also bothered by relegation concerns, but the Donie Kingston inspired win over Longford was a real boost according to boss Peter Creedon.

“We have been making mistakes, there is no doubt about that, but we are heading in the right direction,” Creedon states.

“We’re trying to build a panel and build on a style of football that might benefit us in the Championship.”

LAOIS: Graham Brody; Darren Strong, Denis Booth, James Kelly; Eoin Buggie, Colm Begley, Padraig McMahon; John O'Loughlin, Kevin Meaney; Alan Farrell, David Conway, Niall Donoher; Donie Kingston, Evan O'Carroll, Paul Kingston.

Antrim v Longford, Corrigan Park, 2pm

Both teams have had mixed campaigns so far, encouraging victories and disappointing losses.

That is why the clash in Belfast matters hugely because neither outfit wants to return to Division Four.

Antrim were promoted last year, while Longford escaped from the bottom tier in 2015.

CJ McGourty's efficient form for the Saffrons is a source of encouragement, but Longford are a capable outfit when in the groove.

The defeat to Laois last Saturday was a setback for Denis Connerton's Longford.

"It was a very tough game, the two teams were fighting for their lives, there was no lack of effort.

"We just have to lift ourselves, from the outset we knew that this was going to be a tough League," Connerton admits.

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