As it was envisaged with full Sam Maguire Cup membership on the line, Divisions 2 and 3 are for the most part tight as a drum. Where survival in Division 2 and success in Division 3 are the only things that matter, we assess the 16 counties at the halfway point of the campaign.
Armagh, 4 points
Tripped up against bogey team Laois but looked impressive otherwise. They top the table right now but have only one home game left. Should be in a promotion shake-up but Enniskillen will be tricky and going to Ennis on the final day will be challenging too.
Cavan, 4 points
After an abysmal start to the campaign and talk of unrest in the panel, they have fired back with two victories. Just one Ulster derby left too. Could be a shoot-out between themselves and Roscommon on March 22 and it might not be for promotion.
Westmeath, 4 points
Nothing much has come easier for Jack Cooney’s side thus far but they are keeping their heads above water following promotion last year. It won’t surprise anyone if the Lake County go up. They are the League’s great yo-yos but Kildare may stump them.
Roscommon, 3 points
No shame in going down to Fermanagh in Enniskillen but defeat in Newbridge on Sunday and promotion looks a remote possibility. For a team fancied to return quickly to Division 1, Roscommon are now going to have to do it the hard way.
Laois, 3 points
After two fine performances against Roscommon and Armagh, things went awry against Cavan and they will have to pick themselves up quickly. There was enough quality shown in the opening two games to suggest Laois will at least have the qualifiers to look forward to this summer.
Kildare, 2 points
Kildare have been relatively tight at the back, their main difficulty being putting scores on the board. A slower than expected burn for Jack O’Connor. Not that St Conleth’s Park is a fortress but three home wins will not just keep Kildare safe but see them make a late promotion run.
Fermanagh, 2 points
Yet to raise a green flag but have kept clean sheets in the last two outings and it’s already clear that they won’t be going down without a fight. They are going to be a force in Enniskillen over the coming weeks and may avoid relegation by the skin of their teeth.
Clare, 2 points
A spring of coping for Colm Collins who knows Clare have just as much chance if not more of avoiding the B championship in Munster as in this campaign. No reason to fear any of the teams they face from hereon in but it may be in those couple of final round games they feel the absence of Gary Brennan.
Cork, 6 points
Five more points guarantees Cork will avoid the second tier championship. They could have wrapped up their promotion spot before they travel to Longford on March 22 and can look forward to that May 24 Munster semi-final clash with Kerry knowing there’s not as much on the line.
Longford, 5 points
A really solid start for Pádraic Davis’ crew, but they will be aware the teams they took points from currently fill the last three spots in the division. Pick up three points from their next couple of games and they can travel to Derry with confidence.
Derry, 3 points
Like all four teams on three points, they know a minimum of six points from a possible eight is what’s required to be in the promotion hunt. Rory Gallagher still needs time to formulate a style that suits the players he has and his own defensive persuasions. May just miss out on a prize.
Down, 3 points
Like Offaly, they don’t have to face Cork again, which is something, but that early slip-up against Tipperary could come back to haunt them in the long run. At least they have the Kilcoo men coming back but the next two games will tell so much about their spring.
Offaly, 3 points
From defeat to a share of the spoils to victory, Offaly’s campaign has got progressively better but still you would consider them long shots for promotion. Whatever about earning a place in the qualifiers as a result of going up, they like a couple of others don’t look ready for Division 2 football.
Tipperary, 3 points
Not the best time to be coming up against an in-form Cork side this weekend but there was a lot of character shown in the opening two games if it was lacking in going down to Derry. While they boast the meanest defence in the division, they are averaging less than nine points a game, which is obviously a slightly weather-affected figure but it has to improve and quickly.
Leitrim, 1 point
After such a bold start taking a point from Derry when another was also there for the taking, performances have been on the slide for Terry Hyland’s men. The break came at a good time after heavy losses to Cork and Longford. Need at least two wins from the final four games to stay up.
Louth, 0 points
They have been a tad unfortunate but lose a fourth consecutive game, they go to Derry on Sunday, and demotion looks on the cards. They aren’t the only team in Division 3 to lose players to all variations of unavailability this season but it seems to be catching up with them already.