The Allianz Football League pushes past its halfway stage this weekend and the picture across all four divisions is beginning to become clearer.
Each section has just one team remaining with a 100% record - Dublin, Tyrone, Kildare and Antrim respectively - and at this stage they look they look in great shape for either play-off spots or promotion.
Relegation is a somewhat messier affair, though there will be a bit more sorting out done across Saturday and Sunday’s games. This is round five of seven in the League.
SATURDAY 12 MARCH
Allianz Football League Division 1
1900 Down v Dublin, Páirc Esler, Newry
First plays last in Division 1 and there could hardly be more ground between these teams.
Dublin have four wins from four and a positive scoring difference of 13. By contrast Down have lost every game and their scoring difference is a whopping negative 44, making their average losing margin eleven points. Quite plainly they’re out of their depth.
Jim Gavin's men look to have unrivalled strength in depth and another win for the Dubs in Newry would as good as ensure a semi-final spot while also all but confirming the Mourne County’s immediate return to Division 2.
Allianz Football League Division 2
1900 Fermanagh v Cavan, Brewster Park
Cavan and Fermanagh are neighbours geographically and they’re living side-by-side in Division 2 at the moment too, separated only by Cavan’s superior scoring difference.
Both have won two and lost two so far in the second tier, though arguably the Breffni County have had the more impressive results.
Having lost their opening two games, in tight affairs to Derry and leaders Tyrone, they bounced back to beat Meath by seven having been eight points down and then hammer Armagh last week.
The Erne men saw off Meath and Laois, teams that occupy two of the bottom three spots in the table.
Allianz Football League Division 3
1900 Limerick v Westmeath, Gaelic Grounds
Expect this one to be a dogfight. Limerick and Westmeath have one point apiece from a possible eight, with the Lake County only keeping the Treaty men off the bottom thanks to an even more dismal scoring difference.
Whoever wins this one will give themselves a chance of staying up, albeit a slim one, with the loser set for the drop. Another draw would do neither side much good.
SUNDAY 13 MARCH
Allianz Football League Divison 1
1400 Cork v Monaghan, Pairc Ui Rinn
1430 Mayo v Kerry, Elverys MacHale Park
1500 Donegal v Roscommon, O’Donnell Park
Following an impressive opening day win over Mayo the wheels have really fallen off the Cork wagon and three losses on the bounce sees them flirting with relegation. They face a Monaghan team who have a 50-50 record in the top flight this season and one of the top inside men in the game - Conor McManus. If he’s on fire they’re hard to beat, though Cork will be trying hard to mark him out of the game.
The clash of Mayo and Kerry pits two of the game’s top four sides from the past five years - the others being Dublin and Donegal - and given their recent history there should be no holding back. Mayo badly need another win to go alongside their first of the season last weekend against Monaghan. Kerry’s most experienced players are all nearly back in harness for the trip to Castlebar following last Sunday’s bruising and costly encounter with Donegal.
That Donegal are at near the top of the table should come as no surprise, though Roscommon’s presence just ahead of them is. Kevin McStay’s newly promoted side have three wins from four and are displaying unexpected resilience.
Allianz Football League Divison 2
1400 Laois v Derry, O’Moore Park
1400 Meath v Tyrone, Pairc Tailteann
1430 Armagh v Galway, Athletic Grounds
If Laois had hopes of getting out of Division 2, they didn’t last beyond half-time in their first game as they fell to a heavy defeat to Galway. Since then they have lost two more and their sole win came against Armagh - the only team below them. Derry have been inconsistent, but they’ll travel to the midlands confident.
Tyrone are the last team Meath, even with the home comforts of Navan, would have wanted on the back of a string of disappointing results, with the Red Hand County top with a perfect record which includes last weekend’s impressive victory over Derry.
Galway’s promotion-charge stalled with one point picked up from the last four, though with Armagh so out of form they have a chance to get back on track. Kieran McGeeney’s Orchard County badly need a win from this one, not that they’ve showed much to suggest they can pull one out of the bag.
Allianz Football League Divison 3
1400 Kildare v Sligo, St Conleth’s Park
1400 Longford v Tipperary, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park
1400 Offaly v Clare, O’Connor Park
Kildare can take a huge step back towards Division 2 with a win against Sligo, starting the process of reversing their two-year fall from the top flight. The Lilies have four wins from four while the Yeats County have just two points on the board.
Tipperary’s football fortunes have continued to rise, with the seniors following the recent successes of their minors and Under-21s with two wins and two draws to remain undefeated. They take on a Longford side who are breathing down their necks.
Clare are just two points off top spot in third and a win over Offaly would really help their cause, though the Faithful County on four points know that a win now will be necessary to mount a credible promotion push.
Allianz Football League Divison 4
1300 London v Leitrim, Ruislip
1400 Antrim v Waterford, Corrigan Park
1400 Carlow v Louth, Netwatch Cullen Park
1445 Wexford v Wicklow, Innovate Wexford Park
London occupy their customary spot at the very bottom of the football ladder and this is a game that offers Leitrim, just one place above them, a good shot at their second win of the campaign.
Antrim have been one of the stories of the season with their four wins on the bounce and they’ll fancy their chances at home against struggling Waterford. A win here would suggest they are developing some new-found consistency.
Louth and Carlow is third against fourth while Wicklow versus Wexford is fifth playing second. Results in those games should go some way to dividing the division into promotion chasers and basement battlers.
RTE.ie will have live blogs on all the weekend’s action from 1845 on Saturday and 1330 on Sunday
1900 Dublin v Down, Croke Park, live on Setanta Ireland
1500 Donegal v Roscommon, O’Donnell Park, deferred on TG4
1400 Updates on all of the day’s games on Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1
All live/deferred games available worldwide via GAAGO.