This is a vitally important game for both teams with NFL holders Cork bidding to join Dublin in the final and Armagh battling to save their top-flight status. Both teams are coming off the back of defeats to Mayo and Galway respectively last weekend and need to bounce back quickly with so much at stake.
Conor Counihan’s All-Ireland champions failed to make use of the second half wind in their 0-14 to 1-13 loss to Mayo, while Armagh had no answer to Padraic Joyce’s brilliance as Galway scored a first win of the campaign at the Athletic Grounds.
A draw would be enough to ensure that Armagh don’t make a quick return to Division 2, but they could be relying on other results as the Rebels rarely lose at home and will be going all out for the win that would see them pip their great rivals Kerry for a place in the final on the basis of their superior head-to-head record. Verdict: Cork
Galway v Dublin, Pearse Stadium
Having secured their first win of the campaign against Armagh last Sunday, Galway have given themselves an outside chance of avoiding the drop. And despite all of 10 points separating themselves and Dublin, they will feel quietly confident of maintaining their proud home record against the unbeaten table-toppers, who are already assured of a place in the league final.
Dublin have been highly impressive, particularly in the familiar surroundings of Croke Park, and will have one eye on the final against Cork, Kerry or possibly Down. Aside from maintaining their unblemished record, the Metropolitans have precious little to play for and Galway, who are battling for their Division 1 survival, could take advantage. Galway could yet survive if they beat Dublin, Monaghan lose or draw with Mayo and Armagh lose to Cork on account of Galway’s victory over the Orchard County last weekend. Verdict: Galway.
Kerry v Down, Killarney
A repeat of last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final, Kerry and Down are both in the shake-up to join Dublin in the final, though Kerry are better placed with one more point than their northern opponents and a healthy +20 score difference. However, if either team is to progress, they would need Armagh to do them a huge favour by winning in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Everyone is aware of Down’s impressive championship record against the Kingdom who are still reeling from last August’s shock loss in Croke Park. Killarney will hold no fear for the Mournemen, who always seem to produce their best against Kerry, but even without cruciate ligament victim David Moran, it would be a surprise if Jack O’Connor’s charges don’t exact retribution for last summer. Verdict: Kerry.
Monaghan v Mayo, Inniskeen
There is much more at stake for Monaghan in this one given that they still have a chance – albeit very slim – of saving their Division 1 status. For the Farneymen to stay up, they not only need to beat Mayo, but also hope that Armagh lose to Cork and Galway beat Dublin. If the three counties finish level on four points, score difference will be used to determine who stays up and who goes down. Armagh are currently on -10, Monaghan on -20 and Galway on -24.
Mayo, who are safe from relegation and have nothing to play for, produced a fine performance to beat Cork last time out and could be dark horses for the championship. Monaghan are usually hard to beat in Inniskeen, but with a host of injuries to contend with, they face an uphill battle in their quest to pull off the great escape. Verdict: Mayo.
Antrim v Derry, Casement Park
Antrim manager Liam Bradley needs to guide his side to victory over his native county to avoid a quick return to Division 3. Derry, by contrast, are in the promotion shake-up along with Donegal, Laois, Tyrone and Kildare. The Oak Leafers are favourites to win this local derby clash, but will still need other results to go their way to win promotion back to Division 1. Verdict: Derry.
Kildare v Sligo, Newbridge
Another game with plenty at stake for both teams. Despite their heavy defeat in Dungannon last Sunday, Kildare still have a slight chance of securing promotion, but currently trail Donegal, Laois, Tyrone and Derry. Sligo are in relegation trouble, but crucially are a point clear of Antrim and Meath who will both make the drop if they lose to Derry and Tyrone respectively. Verdict: Kildare.
Laois v Donegal, Portlaoise
Table-toppers Donegal only need to take a point from this game to be sure of their place in the Division 2 final. Laois are breathing down their necks in second place on scoring difference, having put themselves back in contention with a 1-14 to 2-8 win over Sligo in Markievicz Park last Sunday. Justin McNulty has done better than expected with the midlanders since taking over, but a revitalised Donegal could have too much for them. Verdict: Donegal.
Meath v Tyrone, Navan
Tyrone were a thorn in ‘Banty’ McEnaney’s side during his time in charge of Monaghan and they could inflict more pain on the under-pressure Meath boss on Sunday. The under-performing Royals have looked like relegation contenders all spring and nothing less than a victory over the promotion-chasing Red Hands will suffice. Even a win might not be enough if Sligo and Antrim pick up victories elsewhere. Verdict: Tyrone.
Cavan v Tipperary, Cavan
Incredibly, all eight teams in Division 3 have something to play for with one round left. Tipp, following their surprise seven-point win over Wexford in Semple Stadium last Sunday, have staved off the threat of releg