Allianz Football League Division 1: Our team-by-team guide and predictions

John Fogarty previews Division 1 of the Allianz Football League.

Allianz Football League Division 1: Our team-by-team guide and predictions

John Fogarty previews Division 1 of the Allianz Football League.


Last year: Division 2 champions.

Manager: Declan Bonner (3rd year of 2nd term).

1st year in Division 1 since 2018.

Captain: Michael Murphy.

Something old: Having turned 30 last August, Murphy enters his third decade as a Donegal senior player. A 10th senior season for Paddy McBrearty.

Something new: Peadar Mogan. Captain of the county’s U20 side last year, Bonner had a look at him before but he’s set to make a breakthrough this year.

What rule change should affect them the most: Advanced mark but for Murphy and McBrearty’s long-range kicking more than marks captured close to goal.

What's their manager most likely to say: "Michael can’t keep doing everything for us.”

    Fixtures: Jan 25: v Mayo (h); Feb 2: v Meath (a); Feb 9: v Galway (h); Feb 22: v Dublin (a); Mar 1: v Monaghan (h); Mar 14: v Tyrone (h); Mar 22: v Kerry (a).

Key tie and why: A toss-up between the final home game against Tyrone, their Ulster SFC opponents, and the last day trip to Kerry in light of recent close battles with the Kingdom in Kerry and Croke Park.

Prediction: Third. A lack of ruthlessness has hurt Donegal these past two seasons. There have to be indications from early on that they can make amends.


Last year: Fourth.

Manager: Dessie Farrell (1st year).

12th consecutive season in Division 1.

Captain: Likely Stephen Cluxton.

Something old: The currency was the punt when Cluxton began his senior career with Dublin. As he told James McCarthy, what’s the point in going anywhere when for years he was on a losing team?

Something new: Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne. The Cuala midfielder could turn out to be a long-term partner for Brian Fenton.

What rule change should affect them the most: The 20-metre kick-out. We might not see Cluxton until the end of March but Evan Comerford will have to move fast to kick the ball out with Dublin’s usual haste.

What's their manager most likely to say: “Young players are going to ensure we stay hungry.”

    Fixtures: Jan 25: v Kerry (h); Feb 1: v Mayo (a); Feb 8: v Monaghan (h); Feb 22: v Donegal (h); Feb 29: v Tyrone (a); Mar 15: v Meath (h); Mar 22: v Galway (a).

Key tie and why: The Kerry game is an obvious one but by the time they travel to Omagh Farrell should know more about his group. Jim Gavin took a lot from such trips and Farrell will hope for the same.

Prediction: Finalists. Farrell will see the League as more of an exercise than anything else but he’ll be all too aware that the expectations level will not wane. Four home games will be beneficial.


Last year: Fifth.

Manager: Pádraic Joyce (1st year).

5th consecutive season in Division 1.

Captain: Shane Walsh.

Something old: Gary O’Donnell just turned 32 and it was interesting to see him repositioned to full-back during the Connacht League.

Something new: Liam Costello. The Milltown tyro could add a spark to the attack after impressing for the U20s last year.

What rule change should affect them the most: Damien Comer won’t look to take advanced marks anyway so perhaps the 20m kick-out with their array of goalkeepers.

What's their manager most likely to say: “I’m looking for performances this spring, not results per se.”

    Fixtures: Jan 26: v Monaghan (h); Feb 1: v Kerry (a); Feb 9: v Donegal (a); Feb 23: v Tyrone (h); Mar 1: v Meath (a); Mar 15: v Mayo (h); Mar 22: v Dublin (h).

Key tie and why: Mayo occupy the minds of this new management team as much as the previous one. Like Dessie Farrell, Joyce will have a clearer picture by March.

Prediction: Fourth. Galway do need to change the way they play but it should come easy enough to players like Walsh, Comer and the Corofin crew.


Last year: Finalists.

Manager: Peter Keane (2nd year).

18th consecutive season in Division 1.

Captain: David Clifford.

Something old: After Killian Young's retirement, David Moran at 31 is now the oldest in the panel. This will be his third decade playing senior football for Kerry.

Something new: Paudie Clifford. David's older brother has done plenty with college and division to earn a panel spot and could be a real option in the half-forward line.

What rule change should affect them the most: Advanced mark. Tommy Walsh, how are ya?

What's their manager most likely to say: “Yerra, we're further away from Dublin than ever before."

    Fixtures: Jan 25: v Dublin (a); Feb 1: v Galway (h); Feb 9: v Tyrone (a); Feb 23: v Meath (h); Feb 29: v Mayo (a); Mar 15: v Monaghan (a); Mar 22: v Donegal (h).

Key tie and why: Dublin, of course. Up to last year's All-Ireland semi-final, Kerry's recent record in Croke Park was poor and it remains that way in relation to Dublin who they failed to beat at GAA HQ for all of Jim Gavin's seven years in charge.

Prediction: Winners. Dublin will challenge as always but their spring will be partly transitional and Kerry are looking to itch a scratch by beating them in Croke Park on Saturday. Four away games shouldn't blunt the challenge of a panel hurt and hungry after last August.


Last year: Winners.

Manager: James Horan (2nd year of 2nd term).

22nd consecutive season in Division 1.

Captain: Looking like Diarmuid O’Connor again.

Something old: Keith Higgins turns 35 next month and he will likely be used sparingly this spring but he remains a vital group member with little loss of pace.

Something new: Oisín Mullin. The promising and pacy Kilmaine man could stake a claim in defence this spring.

What rule change should affect them the most: Advanced mark. Aidan O’Shea may spend more time at the edge of the square

What's their manager most likely to say: “Look it, things are never as good as they seem or as bad as they appear."

    Fixtures: Jan 25: v Donegal (a); Feb 2: v Dublin (h); Feb 9: v Meath (a); Feb 23: v Monaghan (a); Feb 29: v Kerry (h); Mar 15: v Galway (a); Mar 22: v Tyrone (h).

Key tie and why: Either Dublin or Kerry. Both games are in Castlebar, which is hardly a happy home for Mayo based on recent League results. Mayo can look on making MacHale Park a fortress as a building block for 2020.

Prediction: Fifth. Some running repairs have to be made to the Mayo team as much as Horan introduced a lot of fresh faces last year. The introduction of Ciarán McDonald to the management team is timely.


Last year: Division 2 finalists.

Manager: Andy McEntee (4th year).

First season in Division 1 since 2006.

Captains: Bryan Menton and Donal Keogan.

Something old: Twelve years on from his debut, Graham Reilly is committing for another season. He turns 31 in June.

Something new: Shane Walsh. The real deal and he may be pushed into the spotlight quicker than expected with the amount of injuries Meath are suffering.

What rule change should affect them the most: Conor McGill is the type of defender you think would love the advanced mark.

What's their manager most likely to say: “The advanced mark has changed the game we once knew.”

    Fixtures: Jan 26: v Tyrone (a); Feb 1: v Donegal (h); Feb 9: v Mayo (a); Feb 23: v Kerry (a); Mar 1: v Galway (h); Mar 15: v Dublin (a); Mar 22: v Monaghan (a).

Key tie and why: Dublin will be well and truly up and running by the time Meath take them on a couple of days before St Patrick’s Day. McEntee will hope to have a cleaner bill of health by then.

Prediction: Eighth. The amount of operations key players have had in recent time could hurt Meath’s return to the top flight. Two away games to finish off is tough.


Last year: Sixth.

Manager: Seamus McEnaney (1st year of 2nd term).

Sixth consecutive season in Division 1.

Captain: Ryan Wylie.

Something old: McEnaney lost Vinny Corey and Dessie Mone to retirement but Conor McManus, 33 this year, remains the talisman for the Farney County.

Something new: James Mealiff is no spring chicken but is only reaching his mid-20s and could be a nice attacking addition in defence.

What rule change should affect them the most: You can be sure McManus will work the advanced rule to great advantage.

What's their manager most likely to say: “We’re only getting started, hey, but we’ll be ready when it matters most.”

    Fixtures: Jan 26: v Galway (a); Feb 1: v Tyrone (h); Feb 8: v Dublin (a); Feb 23: v Mayo (h); Mar 1: v Donegal (a); Mar 15: v Kerry (h); Mar 22: v Meath (h).

Key tie and why: The Ulster clashes will mean a lot and were Donegal to be felled at home it could be the platform for the rest of the season.

Prediction: Sixth. In recruiting Conor Laverty and Peter Donnelly in his backroom team, McEnaney has done well but this spring is all about survival.


Last year: Third.

Manager: Mickey Harte (18th season).

Fourth consecutive season in Division 1.

Captain: TBC.

Something old: Turning 33 this year and the last link to an All-Ireland title, it’s once more into the breach for Colm Cavanagh.

Something new: Darragh Canavan. Not exactly in the same mould as his father Peter in that he is a playmaker but just as skilful and exciting.

What rule change should affect them the most: As well as Shaun Patton, Niall Morgan should be able to boom the ball from the 20m line.

What's their manager most likely to say: “Our relationship with Australian Rules will be the ruination of our game.”

    Fixtures: Jan 26: v Meath (h); Feb 2: v Monaghan (a); Feb 9: v Kerry (h); Feb 23: v Galway (a); Feb 29: v Dublin (h); Mar 14: v Donegal (a); Mar 22: v Mayo (a).

Key tie and why: A mighty difficult end to the campaign. Mayo’s home record is nothing special but taking something from Donegal will be onerous.

Prediction: Seventh. Like Meath, injuries to key players could jeopardise Tyrone’s position in Division 1. A case of coping until such time as those injuries clear up.

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