Allianz NFL Division 1A

Donegal v Fermanagh

It is a game of no consequence at all in Ballybofey this weekend as top side Donegal face bottom side Fermanagh at 3.30om, with both teams' progression in Allianz NFL Division 1A already decided.

It is a nice end to a very successful - so far, at least - league campaign for Donegal. They only managed a draw against Limerick last week, primarily because they lack the strength in depth of, say, Dublin or Kerry.

So this weekend will provide a nice rest for the regulars against a Fermanagh side that have nothing to play for, not even pride; they are already in Division 3, in spirit if not in body.

The departure of Ryan McCluskey from the backline and the county set-up entirely - ostensibly over a row about his participation in a soccer match - will be yet another blow for a side that has taken some humiliation this year.

Morale, redundant as it is to say so, is low.

Donegal have nothing to play for, but neither do Fermanagh.

Verdict: Donegal

Dublin v Kerry

It is Dublin versus Kerry, but not in Croke Park (thanks to spoilsports Donegal and Mayo, who settled the matter of semi-final berths before the final weekend), but Parnell Park will still be a cauldron come 3.30pm on Sunday.

Kerry will have to beat Dublin at home to ensure a spot in next season's Division 1. It is a big ask of a team that has misfired so badly this season.

However, signs of a bit of a fight were evident in last week's slog against Tyrone. They will need to start that way against Dublin this weekend if they don't want to drop to Division 2, and once again Darragh Ó Sé will be utterly essential to their fate.

Dublin will know the perils of dropping a division for next year's Championship, so they will be going out to win this game. Home advantage is crucial, as is the knowledge that Kerry are not the side they were last year, at least not yet.

Meanwhile, Pillar Caffrey has kept faith with the team that collapsed against Mayo last weekend, with Conal Keaney no doubt eager to make up for his part in the defeat, having been sent off.

A draw would be enough for Dublin if Mayo beat Tyrone, but a win would make certain of it. Advantage is with Dublin, but only barely.

Verdict: Dublin

Tyrone v Mayo

Tyrone need two points against Mayo at Omagh if they're to stay in top-flight competitive football in the Allianz NFL, throw in at 3.30pm.

Mayo are into the semi-finals, while Tyrone have one foot in next season's Division 1. The Red Hand are not safe, though, so they will have a motivation in this game that Mayo simply will not have.

John O'Mahony might be tempted to rest his players ahead of the semi-finals, while Mickey Harte's boys will be going out to ensure that they don't drop to Division 2 next year.

Anyone who saw the ruthless efficiency of the men from Tyrone in the league opener in Croke Park will be surprised that they're now in this dogfight for survival, but they are where they deserve to be on the basis of subsequent performances.

Mickey Harte reckons the draw last week with Kerry was sign of a developing consistency. He even claims to be looking forward to this game. Pressure might be the necessary motivation.

Mayo will be without 'keeper Ken O'Malley, who suffered a thumb injury, and midfielder David Brady, who pulled a muscle in training.

Tyrone need the win; Mayo do not.

Verdict: Tyrone

Cork v Limerick

It may still be part in the league phase, but it's a knock-out game as Cork and Limerick meet in Páirc Uí Rinn in the Allianz NFL Division 1A, throw in at 3.30pm.

Cork currently sit on four points, with Limerick having fought themselves onto three.

It is Division 2 for the winner, and Division 3 for the loser. Should Cork lose, it will prolong their already lengthy stay in the wilderness.

If Limerick lose, it will be a crushing blow for a team whose spirit and hard work have failed, sometimes with the bitterest of bad luck, to convert to points.

The Treatymen managed a draw against a tiring Donegal last week, and this will have given them a boost going into this game. They need to start converting possession and running into points.

It will be an exceedingly hard fought game, and if Limerick can sustain the sort of pressure they have managed so far this season, Cork may wilt under it.

Verdict: Limerick


Allianz NFL Division 1B

Kildare v Laois

It is a quarter-final match in St Conleth's Park in Newbridge, as the outcome of this Allianz NFL Division 1B clash decides who goes into the semi-final (3.30pm).

However, Kildare will have the added cushion of knowing that defeat will not relegate them. For Laois, depending on other results, they might find themselves in Division 2 next year. It's a nice sprinkling of spice on top of a simmering old rivalry.

Kildare know they beat Westmeath by the skin of their teeth last week. They will also know that beating Laois will be a harder task, especially with the prize on offer. The pressure of this game, which will almost certainly be played at championship pitch, will give Kildare fans a taste of what's to come this summer.

Capitulation in Newbridge will suggest another summer of disappointment. A rousing win could be a sign of a potential run at a Leinster title.

But that is to jump the gun, and the thumping 14-man Laois handed to Armagh (though Kildare have held no fear of the Orchardmen in recent years) will be a sign of their intent. But they will be without Brendan Quigley, the man sent off against Armagh.

John Doyle, often the difference between victory and defeat for Kildare, has been talking about his disappointment with last week's performance. John Crofton will want his charges to gallop into the semi-finals. In front of the home fans, they have the edge.

Verdict: Kildare

Galway v Down

Galway should kick themselves into NFL Division 1 semi-finals when they take on Down at Pearse Stadium on Sunday, throw-in at 3.30pm.

As long as there is a result in the Laois v Kildare showdown then they will progress – and there is nothing to suggest that they will not do so.

Down have been awful in this year's campaign and have failed to register a single win, and they are destined for Division 3 of next year's competition. Even Benny Coulter has failed to inspire the Mourne men to a display that would offer their fans something to hope for prior to their Ulster SFC clash with Cavan on 13 May.

Galway, on the other hand, are in good shape and the scoring threat of Padraig Joyce and been added to by his brother, Nicky. Between them they scored nine points to put Louth to the sword last weekend.

They possess other attacking ammunition in the form of Jarlath Fallon and Michael Meehan, to name but two, and should have no trouble in disposing of Down on Sunday.

Verdict: Galway

Derry v Louth

Derry are still in with a slim chance of making the Division 1 semi-finals when they host Louth on Sunday, throw-in at 3.30pm.

If Galway fail to defeat Down, though unlikely, and if Laois lose out to Kildare then the Oak Leafers will advance. This is a fairly slight chance, though, so they will, no doubt, have on eye on their Ulster SFC meeting with Armagh in five week’s time.

Derry took a while to get into their stride against Down last weekend and will need to get out of the blocks a lot quicker this time around.

Louth have faltered of late and have lost the chance of capitalising on a great start to their campaign. They can still salvage something by securing their Division 1 status by defeating Derry in the final game.

Their defence was unable for to cope with the threat of Padraig Joyce and Co in last week's loss at Galway and things will not be an easier this week with Paddy Bradley marshalling the Derry attacking contingent.

The smart money is on the home side but this should be a close run thing.

Verdict: Derry

Armagh v Westmeath

Armagh are in vital need of a win when they tackle Westmeath at Crossmaglen on Sunday, throw-in at 3.30pm.

If Joe Kernan's side lose out to the Midlanders then they face participating in Division 3 next season. This could come in a week in which the experienced McEntee twins call time on their inter-county careers.

Francie Bellew and goalkeeper Paul Hearty return from their exploits with the conquering Crossmaglen side. They will add much-needed strength at the back for the Orchard County.

Westmeath were denied a draw by a late (controversial) John Doyle free against Kildare last weekend. They are another side that failed to capitalise on a great start to their campaign and could do with a win ahead of the Leinster SFC.

They will have to show more guile and tenacity if they are to retain their place in the top tier.

Dessie Dolan is well able to inspire them and convert any superiority on the scoreboard but he needs more support from hid midfield and an improved performance from the defence.

Armagh should have enough up their sleeve to take some consolation from another poor NFL campaign.

Verdict: Armagh