Five National Football League games for the diary

Five games not to miss in the upcoming National Football League.

Dublin v Kerry, Croke Park, tonight 

Too obvious? Few things get Eamonn Fitzmaurice animated on the sidelines but the defeat to Dublin at this stage two years ago and the performance of referee David Coldrick was difficult for him to digest. Kerry had lost to Dublin in the previous year’s All-Ireland semi-final and he had earmarked the game as an opportunity to regain some respect.

Tonight provides him and his players with the same chance. Dublin don’t so much occupy Kerry minds these days as clog them.

Dublin v Mayo, Elverys MacHale Park, February 6

Stunned Mayo supporters won’t need reminding just how poorly their team performed when Dublin visited Castlebar 13 months ago but it’s their All-Ireland semi-final bouts that are fresher and stronger in their memories.

Philly McMahon will have served his ban by the time the game comes around and another duel with Aidan O’Shea will be greatly anticipated as well as the possibility of warring factions Diarmuid Connolly and Lee Keegan taking on one another again.

Tyrone v Derry, Healy Park, March 5

The third of what’s guaranteed to be at least four meetings between the neighbours this season.

The priority for each is the Ulster quarter-final at the same Omagh venue on May 22 but, given how caustic their McKenna Cup battles were this month, this clash should be fully charged.

Cavan v Armagh, Kingspan Breffni Park, March 5

In case anybody believed Cavan and Armagh put their differences stemming from the 2014 Ulster SFC quarter-final behind them, the counties’ heated McKenna Cup meeting earlier this month proved tensions remain high.

Five players were sent off in Crossmaglen, echoing the unseemly exchanges that preceded their championship game two years ago. It all makes for a spicy provincial quarter-final in Cavan town on May 29.

Kerry v Cork, Austin Stack Park, April 3

Three is far from the magic number for Kerry at the minute. Not only is it the number of times in a row they’ve lost to Dublin in the championship but it will mark the consecutive league defeats to their neighbours unless they set the record straight in this final round game. Of course, both losses have been reversed in the championship but if either or both teams are in semi-final contention then this could be a humdinger, unlike the last two league meetings. By that stage, new Cork manager Peadar Healy will hope to have put a lot of shape to his team.


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