Tyrone upwardly mobile: county by county guide to Div 2 of the Allianz NFL

John Fogarty considers the promotion prospects of the sides hoping to join the top tier.

ARMAGH

Manager: Kieran McGeeney (2nd season)

Captain: Ciaran McKeever (5th season)

1st season in Division 1 since 2014

What they want: Consolidation is key for McGeeney given the players he is missing this season. Staying in the division would be deemed a success.

What they fear: That the myriad of all-Ulster clashes will leave them spent by the start of April. Armagh can’t be on a war footing every day they go out.

On the rise: Joe McElroy, Ciaran O’Hanlon

On the mend: Kevin Dyas, Andrew Murnin

2015 AFL in one word: Expected

2015 AFL top scorer: Tony Kernan/Ethan Rafferty (2-14 each)

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Meath (a); Feb 6: v Laois (h); Feb 27: v Fermanagh (h); Mar 5: v Cavan (a); Mar 13: v Galway (h); Mar 26: v Tyrone (a); Apr 3: v Derry (h).

Prediction: Their battling qualities are undoubted but more personnel has been lost since last season and it will be a year or two before Armagh’s under-age talent comes to fruition – 5th

CAVAN

Manager: Terry Hyland (5th season)

Captain: TBC

2nd consecutive season in Division 2

What they want: To become more of an attacking force. Conservatism hasn’t just defined Cavan football in recent years, it’s also strangled them.

What they fear: That their limitations in attack will haunt them. Cavan can’t continue to concentrate on simply being hard to beat. It's not enough.

On the rise: Padraig Faulkner, Enda Henry

On the mend: Rory Dunne, Martin Reilly

2015 AFL in one word: Mediocre

2015 AFL top scorer: Niall McDermott (0-18)

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Tyrone (a); Feb 6: v Derry (h); Feb 28: v Meath (a); Mar 5: v Armagh (h); Mar 12: v Fermanagh (a); Mar 27: v Laois (h); Apr 3: v Galway (a).

Prediction: Their lack of a goal-threat is old news at this stage but the fact they face four Ulster bouts and a derby with Meath will make life difficult – Relegated

DERRY

Manager: Damian Barton (1st season)

Captain: TBC

1st season in Division 2 since 2013

What they want: Promotion isn’t essential but it would be a real boost for the new management team. To go up at the expense of Tyrone, given their McKenna Cup defeats to them, would be even sweeter.

What they fear: Similar to other Ulster counties like Armagh and Tyrone, that they become distracted and damaged by so many local rivalries.

On the rise: Christopher Bradley, Shane Heavron

On the mend: Enda Lynn, Brendan Rogers

2015 AFL in one word: Gored

2015 AFL top scorer: Mark Lynch (0-18)

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Fermanagh (h); Feb 6: v Cavan (a); Feb 28: v Galway (h); Mar 5: v Tyrone (a); Mar 13: v Laois (a); Mar 27: v Meath (h), Apr 3: v Armagh (a).

Prediction: Four trips will makes a little trickier for Barton particularly as he hopes to trial and error a little. Derry’s good springs have been most deceiving too – 4th

FERMANAGH

Manager: Pete McGrath (3rd season)

Captain: Eoin Donnelly (3rd season)

1st season in Division 2 since 2009

What they want: To show that they are no whipping boys. Fermanagh are heavy favourites for the drop despite an impressive Division 3 run last year.

What they fear: To prove the bookies right and go down. Their resources aren’t as wide as their Ulster brethren but they’ll be keen to make Brewster Park a fortress.

On the rise: Ryan Hanna, Jack McCann

On the mend: Eddie Courtney, Martin O’Brien

2015 AFL in one word: Aspiring

2015 AFL top scorer: Seán Quigley (4-49)

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Derry (a); Feb 7: v Meath (h); Feb 27: v Armagh (a); Mar 6: v Laois (h); Mar 12: v Cavan (h); Mar 27: v Galway (a); Apr 3: v Tyrone (h).

Prediction: McGrath has developed an excellent team spirit that should stand up to a lot of questions even if survival will be the buzz word – 6th

GALWAY

Manager: Kevin Walsh (2nd season)

Captain: Adrian Varley (1st season)

5th consecutive season in Division 2

What they want: They’ve been knocking at the door so long now that promotion has to be a real goal particularly after a decent January without some key players.

What they fear: For all the young, excellent forwards they have, Walsh is still working on adding more steel to the defence even if they have learned the necessary dark arts.

On the rise: Eamon Brannigan, Johnny Heaney

On the mend: Gareth Bradshaw, Finian Hanley, Gary Sice, Cathal Sweeney, Patrick Sweeney

2015 AFL in one word: Adequate

2015 AFL top scorer: Shane Walsh (4-11)

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Laois (a); Feb 7: v Tyrone (h); Feb 28: v Derry (a); Mar 6: v Meath (h); Mar 13: v Armagh (a); Mar 27: v Fermanagh (h); Apr 3: v Cavan (a).

Prediction: Only Division 2 table-toppers Down scored more goals than Galway in the group last year. If they can complement their explosive forward line with a dogged back-line they can make the jump – 2nd

LAOIS

Manager: Mick Lillis (1st season)

Captain: TBC

4th consecutive season in Division 2

What they want: A new manager bounce. Laois will be gunning for the security of six points as quick as possible. With three trips north, they will likely have to come in O’Moore Park.

What they fear: Having come perilously close to relegation last season, the threat is just as viable this time around as there isn’t much coming through.

On the rise: Trevor Collins, Nigel Murphy

On the mend: Colm Begley, Niall Donoher, Ross Munnelly, Gary Walsh

2015 AFL in one word: Fortunate

2015 AFL top scorer: Donie Kingston (3-24)

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Galway (h); Feb 6: v Armagh (a); Feb 28: v Tyrone (h); Mar 6: v Fermanagh (a); Mar 13: v Derry (h); Mar 27: v Cavan (a); Apr 3: v Meath (h).

Prediction: Kingston has added plenty to his game, which is just as well because the dependency on him has increased. If he is nullified, Laois will find themselves in a lot of tight spots – Relegated

MEATH

Manager: Mick O’Dowd (4th season)

Captain: Donal Keogan (2nd season)

3rd consecutive season in Division 2

What they want: Captain Keogan is on record as saying they want to win every competition they enter this year. It’s one done and three to go, the Division 2 title being the most realistic of the remaining silverware on offer.

What they fear: Considering O’Dowd regards the mainstays of his young team as having matured, a finish in the bottom half would be deemed a failure.

On the rise: Alan Douglas, Padraic Harnan

On the mend: Adam Flanagan, Conor Gillespie

2015 AFL in one word: Close

2015 AFL top scorer: Mickey Newman (1-31)

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Armagh (h); Feb 7: v Fermanagh (a); Feb 28: v Cavan (h); Mar 6: v Galway (a); Mar 13: v Tyrone (h): Mar 27: v Derry (a); Apr 3: v Laois (a).

Prediction: They look in decent enough fettle to take advantage of what the northern teams put into the derbies but may come up short again – 3rd

TYRONE

Manager: Mickey Harte (14th season)

Captain: Seán Cavanagh (3rd season)

1st season in Division 2 since 2012

What they want: In 2011, Harte said he doubted a Division 2 team would win the All-Ireland title. He’s been proven right ever since. Tyrone need to be back in the big time quick smart.

What they fear: To be bogged down by local rivalries and struggle. Tyrone must keep showing that they can keep their heads in derbies.

On the rise: Lee Brennan, Richard Donnelly

On the mend: Peter Harte, Ronan McNabb, Aidan McCrory

2015 AFL in one word: Homesick

2015 AFL top scorer: Darren McCurry (0-29)

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Cavan (h); Feb 7: v Galway (a); Feb 28: v Laois (a); Mar 5: v Derry (h); Mar 13: v Meath (a); Mar 26: v Armagh (h); Apr 3: v Fermanagh (a).

Prediction: For a team yearning for an Ulster title and more, finishing top of a crop involving four others from the province would be impressive – 1st


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