CORK

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Dubs again team to beat

CORK

Dubs again team to beat

Manager: Brian Cuthbert (1st season).

Captain: Michael Shields (1st season).

Where they are: 5th consecutive season in Division 1.

What they want: To know their best team by the end of the league with three or four wins under the belt.

What they fear: Relegation and a failure to find a midfield partner for Aidan Walsh.

On the rise: Alan Cronin, Donal Óg Hodnett, Dan MacEoin.

On the mend: Patrick Kelly, Damien Cahalane, Jamie O’Sullivan.

Super stat: Cork have conceded just five goals over their last 14 round games.

Prospects: There should be enough wiggle room for experiment with four home games and no long trips into Ulster to ensure they stay up.

Fixtures: Feb 2 — v Westmeath (h); Feb 9 — v Kildare (h); Mar 1 — v Dublin (a); Mar 9 — v Derry (h); Mar 16 — v Mayo (a); Mar 30 — v Tyrone (h); Apr 6 — v Kerry (a).

Prediction: 5th.

DERRY

Manager: Brian McIver (2nd season).

Captain: Mark Lynch (2nd season).

Where they are: 1st season in Division 1 since 2010.

What they want: More than one season in the top flight is needed if Derry are to become real contenders in Ulster.

What they fear: The absence of the Bradley brothers to be felt in the forward line.

On the rise: Michael McShane, Ciarán Conway.

On the mend: Barry McGoldrick, Mark Craig.

Super stat: Fergal Doherty, back in this year’s panel, played his last Championship game against Carlow as a substitute in 2010.

Prospects: Without their Ballinderry players for at least the first couple of games and the Bradleys on permanent basis, Derry face a battle to remain in the top flight.

Fixtures: Feb 1 — v Tyrone (h); Feb 9 — v Kerry (a); Mar 2 — v Westmeath (h); Mar 9 — v Cork (a); Mar 16 — v Dublin (h); Mar 30 — v Kildare (h); Apr 6 — v Mayo (a).

Prediction: To go down.

DUBLIN

Manager: Jim Gavin (2nd season).

Captain: Stephen Cluxton (2nd season).

Where they are: 6th consecutive season in Division 1.

What they want: Another league title, thank you very much.

What they fear: Bitegate mark III .

On the rise: Cormac Costello, Eric Lowndes, Emmet Ó Conghaile, Paul Hudson.

On the mend: Alan Brogan.

Super stat: Dublin’s round 5 loss to Tyrone was their one defeat across league and Championship last year.

Prospects: You can almost bet your bottom dollar they’ll be in the semi-finals. Four home games for a second season in a row is a real ace in the hand.

Fixtures: Feb 1 — v Kerry (h); Feb 9 — v Westmeath (a); Mar 1 — v Cork (h); Mar 7 — v Kildare (h); Mar 16 — v Derry (a); Mar 29 — v Mayo (h); April 6 — v Tyrone (a).

Prediction: League final.

KERRY

Manager: Eamonn Fitzmaurice (2nd season).

Captain: Colm Cooper (3rd season).

Where they are: 12th consecutive season in Division 1.

What they want: To exhibit a depth of the panel in the absence of their seasoned stars in first half of campaign.

What they fear: A repeat of last season’s run, which saw them lose their first four games.

On the rise: Jack Sherwood, Stephen O’Brien, Paul O’Connor.

On the mend: Darran O’Sullivan, Kieran Donaghy.

Super stat: Kerry have three home games for the second season in a row due to a two-year cycle of fixtures.

Prospects: They’ll have to suck it up for awhile and might have one win to their name after three games but can finish strongly again.

Fixtures: Feb 1 — v Dublin (a); Feb 9 — v Derry (h); Mar 2 — v Mayo (a); Mar 9 — v Tyrone (h); Mar 16 — v Kildare (a); Mar 30 — v Westmeath (a); Apr 6 — v Cork (h).

Prediction: Semi-finalists.

KILDARE

Manager: Jason Ryan (1st season).

Captain: TBC .

Where they are: 2nd consecutive season in Division 1.

What they want: Indications that the forward line can compete at the highest level.

What they fear: The drop and no progress with the attack.

On the rise: David Hyland, Fergal Conway, Sean Hurley.

On the mend: Peter Kelly, Alan Smith, Eamonn Callaghan, Niall Kelly, Brian Flanagan, Eoin Doyle.

Super stat: The Lilywhites were the top goalscorers in the round section of last year’s Division 1 with 10 goals.

Prospects: Could struggle with so many players rehabbing from off-season surgery.

Fixtures: Feb 2 — v Mayo (h); Feb 9 — v Cork (a); Mar 2 — v Tyrone (h); Mar 9 — v Dublin (a); Mar 16 — v Kerry (h); Mar 30 — v Derry (a); Apr 6 — v Westmeath (h).

Prediction: 6th.

MAYO

Manager: James Horan (4th season).

Captain: Andy Moran (4th season).

Where they are: 16th consecutive season in Division 1.

What they want: A first national title since 2001. Unearthing a forward or two along the way would help.

What they fear: Defeats. After a second successive All-Ireland final loss, every win distances themselves from their latest disappointment.

On the rise: Evan Regan, Conor O’Shea, Tom King.

On the mend: Alan Dillon, Donal Vaughan, Chris Barrett, Cillian O’Connor.

Super stat: In their last 14 round games, Mayo have scored just six goals — two over the course of last year’s campaign.

Prospects: Two away fixtures to start will put them under the cosh but Horan’s panel is stronger than most.

Fixtures: Feb 2 — v Kildare (a); Feb 9 — v Tyrone (a); Mar 2 — v Kerry (h); Mar 9 — v Westmeath (a); Mar 16 — v Cork (h); Mar 29 — v Dublin (a); Apr 6 — v Derry (h).

Prediction: Third or fourth placed finishers but league champions.

TYRONE

Manager: Mickey Harte (12th season).

Captain: Seán Cavanagh (1st season).

Where they are: 2nd consecutive season in Division 1.

What they want: Discovering another Mattie Donnelly wouldn’t go astray. Captain Cavanagh requires better support in midfield.

What they fear: Could be claimed they would be more exposed to injuries to key players than other All-Ireland contenders.

On the rise: Peter Hughes, PJ Lavery, Shay McGuigan, Danny McNulty.

On the mend: Peter Harte, Conor McAliskey, Ryan McKenna, Joe McMahon, Justin McMahon, Stephen O’Neill.

Super stat: Goalkeeper Niall Morgan was his team’s highest scorer in last year’s Division 1 final.

Prospects: Punched above their weight last spring but are an even more formidable side this season.

Fixtures: Feb 1 — v Derry (a); Feb 9 — v Mayo (h); Mar 2 — v Kildare (a); Mar 9 — v Kerry (a); Mar 16 — v Westmeath (h); Mar 30 — v Cork (a); Apr 6 — v Dublin (h).

Prediction: Semi-finalists.

WESTMEATH

Manager: Paul Bealin (1st season).

Captain: Paul Sharry (1st season) .

Where they are: 1st season in Division 1 since 2009.

What they want: To stay up regardless of how ugly it may be.

What they fear: A series of heavy defeats could severely hurt morale. Too much resting on John Heslin and Dessie Dolan’s shoulders.

On the rise: Jamie Gonoud, Kieran Martin.

On the mend: Denis Glennon .

Super stat: Westmeath earned promotion last year and yet finished the seven rounds with a negative score difference of minus two.

Prospects: Some quality footballers in Sharry, Heslin, Callum McCormack and Dolan but it won’t be enough at this level.

Fixtures: Feb 2 — v Cork (a); Feb 9 — v Dublin (h);Mar 9 — v Mayo (h); Mar 16 — v Tyrone (a); Mar 30 — v Kerry (h); Apr 6 — v Kildare (a).

Prediction: Relegated.

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