Donegal's Michael Murphy and Mayo's Lee Keegan will go toe to toe in Round 1 of the Allianz Football League.
Donegal's Michael Murphy and Mayo's Lee Keegan will go toe to toe in Round 1 of the Allianz Football League. 

Preview: Allianz Football League Round 1

Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 1

Saturday, January 29

Dublin v Armagh, Croke Park, 7.30pm - RTE2

Sunday, January 30

Kildare v Kerry, St Conleth's Park, 1.45pm - TG4 (deferred) / live on TG4 app

Mayo v Donegal, Markievicz Park, 1.45pm - TG4

Tyrone v Monaghan, O'Neills Healy Park, 3.45pm - TG4

Dublin v Armagh are the curtain-raiser for the 2022 Allianz Football League Division One and it should be a tasty tie.

Both teams showed decent early season form with Dublin winning the O’Byrne Cup and Armagh losing out to eventual McKenna Cup champions, Monaghan, at the semi-final stage on penalties.

Dublin will want to unearth a couple of new players this year so it’ll be interesting to see how well the likes of Lee Gannon, Kieran Kennedy, Cameron McCormack, Ross McGarry, Aaron Byrne, Killian McGinnis, and Lorcan O’Dell fare during the League campaign.

As for Armagh, their priority will be to stay up in Division 1 to further accelerate the development of their talented young panel.

They have some seriously explosive forwards with players like Rian O’Neill, Oisin O’Neill, Ruairi Grugan, Andrew Murnin, Stefan CAmbell, and Conor Turbitt, but marrying that attacking threat with greater defensive solidity will be key.

On Sunday, Jack O’Connor will find himself in the unusual position of managing Kerry against the Kildare team he brought to last year’s Leinster Final.

He’s already made a statement of intent this year by fielding very experienced teams in Kerry’s successful McGrath Cup campaign, whereas Kildare’s new manager Glen Ryan used the O’Byrne Cup to look at as many players as possible so they might not be quite as ready as the Kingdom to hit the ground running.

Mayo and Donegal will face off on neutral territory in Markievicz Park because MacHale Park is being resurfaced, and the match will be notable for the return from long-term injury of Mayo’s Jason Doherty.

He’s named in a dangerous looking full-forward line alongside Tommy Conroy and Ryan O’Donoghue that will take a lot of watching by a Donegal defence that looked shaky at times in the McKenna Cup Final defeat to Monaghan.

The final match in Division 1 is a repeat of last year’s Ulster Final as Tyrone host Monaghan. All-Ireland champions, Tyrone, suffered a heavy 15-point defeat to Cavan in the McKenna Cup which joint-manager Feargal Logan described as “a wake-up call”.

They’ll want to make amends for that against Monaghan, but the Farney County bring a lot of momentum into the match after their impressive McKenna Cup winning campaign.

Meath and Galway clash in Round 1 of the Allianz Football League Division Two. 
Meath and Galway clash in Round 1 of the Allianz Football League Division Two. 

Allianz Football League Division 2 Round 1

Saturday, January 29

Derry v Down, Owenbeg, 6pm - BBC iPlayer / BBC Sport NI website

Sunday, January 30

Clare v Offaly, Cusack Park, Ennis, 2pm

Galway v Meath, Pearse Stadium, 2pm

Roscommon v Cork, Dr Hyde Park, 2pm

Derry and Down get the Allianz Football League Division 2 campaign underway on Saturday, and Down manager James McCartan admis he would have preferred “a few more weeks” to prepare his team for the test.

They’re without a number of key players due to injury and Kilcoo’s involvement in the Club Championship, so this will be a tough challenge against a Derry team on an upward curve.

Division 2 is going to be an absolute bear-pit this year, and with every point precious both Clare and Offaly will view their match on Sunday as a must-win.

The other two matches in the Division are heavyweight tussles with Cork playing Roscommon and Galway playing Meath.

New Cork manager, Keith Ricken, has named a new-look team that features six League debutants in John Cooper, Joe Grimes, Daniel O'Connell, Blake Murphy, David Buckley and Mark Cronin as he puts his faith in youth.

Galway are bringing some good momentum into the League after their successful FBD League campaign but Meath will be a tough nut to crack.

Louth manager, Mickey Harte. 
Louth manager, Mickey Harte. 

Allianz Football League Division 3 Round 1

Saturday, January 29

Limerick v Longford, TUS Gaelic Grounds, 5pm

Fermanagh v Antrim, Brewster Park, 7pm

Sunday 30 January

Allianz Football League Division 3 round 1

Louth v Laois, Ardee, 2pm

Westmeath v Wicklow, TEG Cusack Park, 2pm

The stakes are high in Division 3 where a top-two finishing position doesn’t just guarantee promotion, but also participation in the Sam Maguire Cup this year.

Westmeath were very competitive in Division 2 last year and could count themselves unfortunate to be relegated, so they’ll be keen to put their best foot forward in their opening round match against Wicklow.

The margins are likely to be wafer-thin because there’s not much between any of the teams in this Division on paper.

Antrim and Louth looked like teams on the up when winning promotion from Division 4 last year, but consecutive promotions is still a big ask.

Laois showed some early season promise when reaching the O’Byrne Cup Final and producing a creditable showing against Dublin, and they’ll be keen to hit the ground running under new manager Billy Sheehan.

Longford are always doughty competitors, Limerick have made big strides under Billy Lee, and Wicklow have a lot of emerging talented young players, so it’s all to play for in Division 3.

Cavan footballer, Thomas Galligan. 
Cavan footballer, Thomas Galligan. 

Allianz Football League Division 4 Round 1

Saturday, January 29

Allianz Football League Division 4 round 1

Carlow v London, Netwatch Cullen Park, 7pm

Sunday, January 30

Leitrim v Cavan, Avant Money Pairc Sean MacDiarmada, 2pm

Waterford v Tipperary, Fraher Field, 2pm

Wexford v Sligo, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 2pm

Provincial champions as recently as 2020, Cavan and Tipperary now find themselves in the bottom tier of League football.

They’ll believe they’re good enough to get promoted, but history has taught us that there’s no such thing as an easy escape from Division 4.

Cavan looked good when hammering Tyrone in the McKenna cup, but you can be sure Leitrim’s new manager Andy Moran will have his troops fired up for the first round clash at Avant Money Pairc Sean MacDiarmada.

Tipperary will be without key forward Michael Quinlivan for 2022, and will hope promising attacker Sean O’Connor can fill the void. They have a stiff test first time out too with a trip to Fraher Field to play a Waterford team under new management in the shape of Ephie Fitzgerald.

Tony McEntee should have Sligo well-drilled in his second season in charge. They showed some decent form in the FBD League with Niall Murphy looking especially sharp.

Wexford will hope that Dean O’Toole will can do a passable impression of his uncle Matty Forde and give their attack some more firepower this year.

Carlow have lost some key players in the past couple of years with Paul Broderick and Shane Redmond the latest to step away, so manager Niall Carew has a bit of a rebuilding job on his hands.

London haven’t played a competitive match in 22 months so it’s hard what sort of form they’ll bring to the table.