Wexford to Power home: county by county guide to Div 4 of the Allianz NFL

Eoghan Cormican believes David Power can take Wexford back to Division 3.

ANTRIM

Manager: Frank Fitzsimons (2nd season)

Captain: TBC

Third season in Division 4

What they want: To build on the return to the squad of Sean Burke, Kevin Niblock, Kevin O'Boyle and Michael and Thomas McCann.

What they fear: The scoreboard consequences of CJ McGourty’s decision to play hurling in 2016.

On the rise: Brian ‘Bam’ Neeson, Sean Burke.

On the mend: James Laverty (groin), Patrick McBride (hamstring).

2015 AFL in one word: Slow-burning

2015 top scorer: CJ McGourty (3-38)

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Carlow (a); Feb 7: v Wexford (h); Feb 28: v Leitrim (h); Mar 6: v London (a); Mar 13: v Waterford (h); Mar 27: v Wicklow (a); Apr 3: v Louth (h).

Prediction: Will need to take four points from the visits of fellow promotion contenders Wexford, Leitrim and Louth to achieve Division 3 target. Unlikely – 3rd.

CARLOW

Manager: Turlough O’Brien (2nd season)

Captain: Darragh Foley (1st season)

Rooted in Division 4 since the league was split into four tiers in 2008.

What they want: To build on the groundswell of positivity stemming from Paul Broderick’s return; he kicked 0-7 in their league opener this time last year but sat out the remainder of the season through injury.

What they fear: Another finish in the bottom-half of the table. Their form since 2012 reads: 5th, 8th, 7th, 7th.

On the rise: Paul O’Halloran, Brian Cawley, Henry Hegarty.

On the mend: Shane Redmond.

2015 AFL in one word: Collapse

2015 top scorer: Darragh O’Brien (2-5)

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Antrim (h); Feb 7: v London (a); Feb 28: v Waterford (h); Mar 6: v Wicklow (a); Mar 13: v Louth (h); Mar 27: v Leitrim (a); Apr 3: v Wexford (a).

Prediction: Unless they take Antrim or Louth at Dr Cullen Park, it’ll be a 5th place finish once more.

LEITRIM

Manager: Shane Ward (2nd season).

Captain: Gary Reynolds (1st season).

Division 4 furniture since redrawing of the league back in 2008.

What they want: A seamless return to form for Emlyn Mulligan.

What they fear: Mid-table mediocrity.

On the rise: Mark Plunkett, Niall Woods, Michael McWeeney.

On the mend: Sickbay is empty.

2015 AFL in one word: Positive.

2015 top scorer: Kevin Conlon (1-40).

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Wexford (a); Feb 7: v Wicklow (h); Feb 28: v Antrim (a); Mar 6: v Louth (h); Mar 13: v London (a); Mar 27: v Carlow (h); Apr 3: v Waterford (a).

Prediction: Very possible that they will have amassed no more than two points following opening four rounds. Easy run-in should propel them up the table – 4th.

LONDON

Manager: Ciarán Deely (1st season).

Captain: David McGreevy (1st season).

Another long-standing member of the Division 4 family.

What they want: Two victories and a top six finish. This has proven beyond them in recent times.

What they fear: Loss of key players following end of Paul Coggins era.

On the rise: Senan O’Grady (Roscommon), PP O’Hara (Cavan), Colin Dunne (Galway), Adrian Hanlon (Donegal).

On the mend: Alan O’Hara, Lloyd Colfer, Mickey Walsh.

2015 AFL in one word: One object, rather: Wooden spoon.

2015 top scorer: Alan O’Hara (3-19).

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Louth (a); Feb 7: v Carlow (h); Feb 28: v Wexford (a); Mar 6: v Antrim (h); Mar 13: v Leitrim (h); Mar 27: v Waterford (a); Apr 3: v Wicklow (h).

Prediction: Trip to Waterford and visit of Wicklow represent their best chance at moving away from the foot of the table – 8th.

LOUTH

Manager: Colin Kelly (2nd season).

Captain: Adrian Reid will serve as captain for the duration of the league.

First time in Division 4 since 2008.

What they want: To shore up their defensive frailties. The Wee County leaked, on average, 1-15 per game last spring; the worst concession rate across the four divisions.

What they fear: Stagnancy, brought about by failure to achieve promotion.

On the rise: Conor Grimes, Darren McMahon, James Sterwart.

On the mend: Colin Judge, Pauric Smith.

2015 AFL in one word: Ominous.

2015 top scorer: Ryan Burns (1-23).

Fixtures: Jan 31: v London (h); Feb 7: v Waterford (a); Feb 28: v Wicklow (h); Mar 6: v Leitrim (a); Mar 13: v Carlow (a); Mar 27: v Wexford (h); Apr 3: v Antrim (a).

Prediction: Louth haven’t won a league fixture outside of Drogheda since 2013. Correct this appalling record and they’ll move up - promotion.

WATERFORD

Manager: Tom McGlinchey (2nd season).

Captain: Tommy Prendergast (1st season).

Fifth season in Division 4.

What they want: Leading forward Shane Ahearne to re-join the panel.

What they fear: That the entire Stradbally contingent in contention for selection - Tommy Connors, Shane and Robert Ahearne, and David and Tony Grey – will not feature for the remainder of the year.

On the rise: Donie Breathnach, David Power, Shaun Corcoran, Conor Prunty.

On the mend: Dean Crowley, Maurice O’Gorman, Joey Veale, Liam Lawlor.

2015 AFL in one word: Nightmare.

2015 top scorer: Patrick Hurney (1-18).

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Wicklow (a); Feb 7: v Louth (h); Feb 28: v Carlow (a); Mar 5: v Wexford (h); Mar 13: v Antrim (a); Mar 27: v London (h); Apr 3: v Leitrim (h).

Prediction: Aside from the confirmation that coach Ephie Fitzgerald will remain on the sideline despite taking up the role of Cork ladies manager, there won’t be too many spring positives for the Déise – 7th.

WEXFORD

Manager: David Power (2nd season).

Captain: Brian Malone (1st season).

First time in Division 4 .

What they want: A new centre-back by the end of spring. Graeme Molloy leaves a vacuum that must be filled.

What they fear: Motion proposing B championship receiving the green light at Congress. For a dual county, their involvement in such a competition would carry dire consequences.

On the rise: Naomhan Rossiter, Robbie Vallejo, Niall Hughes, Donal Shanley.

On the mend: Ciarán Lyng (hip), Michael Furlong (cruciate), Shane Roche (shoulder).

2015 AFL in one word: Eye-opening.

2015 top scorer: Ben Brosnan (0-21).

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Leitrim (h); Feb 7: v Antrim (a); Feb 28: v London (h); Mar 5: v Waterford (a); Mar 13: v Wicklow (h); Mar 27: v Louth (a); Apr 3: v Carlow (h).

Prediction: Away fixtures against Antrim and Louth will test their mettle, but Power’s charges shouldn’t hit too many speed bumps in reaching the decider - winners.

WICKLOW

Manager: Johnny Magee (2nd season) .

Captain: Rory Finn (1st season).

Third season in Division 4.

What they want: An influx of youth following retirements of Paudge McWalter, James Stafford and Paddy Dalton.

What they fear: Widening of gap between them and leading challengers for Division 4 crown. 7th place finish last year didn’t do much for morale.

On the rise: Eoin Murtagh.

On the mend: Clean bill of health.

2015 AFL in one word: Deflating.

2015 top scorer: Conor McGraynor (3-11).

Fixtures: Jan 31: v Waterford (h); Feb 7: v Leitrim (a); Feb 28: v Louth (a); Mar 6: Carlow (h); Mar 13: v Wexford (a); Mar 27: v Antrim (h); Apr 3: v London (a).

Prediction: Will struggle to take points from promotion contenders – 6th.


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