/ GAA

Allianz Football League Division 2 previews: Derry seek to join Westmeath in elite group

Updated: Sunday, 07 Apr 2013 14:58 | Comments

Derry are favourites to join Westmeath in the top tier next season
Derry are favourites to join Westmeath in the top tier next season

Audio

by Micil Glennon

All games Sunday, 3pm

Derry v Westmeath, Celtic Park

Westmeath are already promoted having won five and drawn one, while Derry need at least a point to join them in Division 1 next year.

A loss will mean that they will be relying on results elsewhere to go their way.

So Oak Leaf boss Brian McIver is happy that they have their fate in their own hands.

“We're very pleased that we don't have to be relying on results in other games on Sunday,” he told the Irish Daily Star.

"If we do succeed in getting promoted, it will be a very fine achievement by a young side, who have made good progress over the last few months."

The men from the Lake County are the only side across all four divisions to remain undefeated and can be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas with top-flight football already secured for next season.

Manager Pat Flanagan makes 10 changes to the side that beat Armagh and with nothing of consequence to play for, may just focus on getting through unscathed.

Verdict: Derry

Louth v Longford, Drogheda

Louth host already-relegated Longford on Sunday knowing that a win, or even a draw, will see them retain their status for 2013.

They currently lie a point ahead of Armagh, on five points after wins over the Orchard County, Galway and a draw with Laois.

The permutations are such that in the unlikely event of a three-way tie, it’s Wexford who would drop out.

However, the Wee County have injury concerns over three big-name players in captain Paddy Keenan, Brian Donnelly and Shane Lennon.

Manager Aidan O’Rourke claimed in The Argus that Keenan and Lennon will be “lucky to make it” but that’s the kind of pre-match talk means little in Gaelic games.

Longford are a miserable nought from six and go straight back down to Division 3 without making a dent in the league.

In fact, their only win to date was a three-point victory over UCD in the O’Byrne Cup in January.

All the focus will be on their May Championship trip to Aughrim to face Wicklow but manager Glenn Ryan would hate to have to stew in a clean sweep of defeats for the best part of two months before that game.

But even that vista probably won’t see them cause an upset here.

Verdict: Louth

Armagh v Galway, Athletic Grounds

Armagh’s survival hopes suffered a blow with the news that captain Ciaran McKeever is suspended for an incident against Louth last month, even though he wasn’t playing.

Manager Paul Grimley will also have to do without James Morgan, Declan Carville, Conor McGeown, Gary McCooey and Jamie Clarke.

However, they can avoid a second successive demotion if they win and Wexford or Louth lose their ties.

Speaking in the Irish Times, Grimley said: “I believe that our performances have been good enough for us to stay in the division. We have not always had the rub of the green but we know we need to win this game on Sunday, and get other results to go for us, or we are in trouble.”

Galway travel to Armagh more in hope than expectation – they’ll need already-promoted Westmeath to win in Derry and Laois to drop a point in Wexford.

But without the prospect of any more competitive football until the Championship clash with Mayo, there is no reason why they shouldn’t just ago all out and hope that other results fall their way.

Verdict: Galway

Wexford v Laois, Wexford Park

It’s very simple for Wexford – win and they stay in the second tier for next season.

However, a loss or a draw will mean that they’ll be looking at Louth and Armagh’s games to see what happens there.

The Slaneysiders began the campaign brightly enough, beating Longford and Louth and drawing with Armagh.

However, losses in the last two games, to Galway and Westmeath, as well as an earlier defeat to Derry mean they are on somewhat of a downward trajectory and need to dig a bit deeper if they don’t want to deal with the negativity that surrounds relegation ahead of the summer.

They’ll open the Leinster campaign against either Sunday’s opponents or Louth so this is an opportunity to get one-up ahead of that date.

Laois are in with a shout of promotion but going by the soundings of manager Justin McNulty, he’s just not that into it.

Given a favourable Leinster draw, the Armagh man is eyeing a place in the final, with both Kildare and Dublin on the opposite side of the pot.

The reality is that in order for Laois to make the Division 2 final, Westmeath would need to win in Derry, so McNulty has probably already moved on to the next stage.

In team news, Kevin Meaney, Conor Meredith and Colm Kelly replace Conor Boyle, Billy Sheehan and Padraig Clancy.

Verdict: Wexford

@MicilGlennon

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use
Powered by NewsWhip