FIRST ROUND FIXTURES
Sunday, 27 June
Offaly v Louth, Pairc Tailteann, 1pm
Wicklow v Wexford, Aughrim, 3pm
Carlow v Longford, Bord na Móna O'Connor Park, 4.30pm
Live blogs on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now app.
Updates on Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra from 12.55pm and RTÉ Radio 1 from 2pm.
The Sunday Game Live from 12.55pm and highlights on The Sunday Game from 12.55pm on RTÉ One and the RTÉ Player.
Largely dry with cloud building up during the morning mixed with some sunshine. A few well scattered showers will likely develop. There is a chance of rain developing in southern and southeastern areas.
Highest temperatures of 16 to 20 degrees generally, possibly reaching 21 degrees in the south, in light to moderate northerly breezes.
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DUBS DESTINED TO DOMINATE AGAIN
While Dublin's All-Ireland quest switches to talk of seven-in-a-row, their dominance of the Leinster Championship has already moved into double figures. That's also if one overlooks that Meath's 2010 win had briefly interrupted a previous five-in-a-row run by Dublin.
Last November's comfortable 21-point victory over the Royal County compounded discussion over the competitiveness of the competition, with Colm O'Rourke describing the final as "a really bad reflection on Leinster football" such was the yawning gap between Dublin and 2020's 'best of the rest' in the province.
"Whether Meath and the rest have regressed and Dublin have progressed, that's an argument you could have as well. Dublin are probably looking better at this stage than they have for many years, but it shows also that I think in general everybody else seems to be playing for the silver medal at this stage," he added in the immediate aftermath.
Seven months on, the tectonic plates in the province have not really shifted an iota on that score.
Dublin don't get their 2021 championship campaign under way until Sunday week when they face the winner of this weekend's Wicklow vs Wexford clash.
With the return of spectators on the horizon, Brendan Maher, Dean Rock and Cian O'Sullivan have been sharing their delight at the prospect #RTEGAA pic.twitter.com/rpWjhzRkLI— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) June 4, 2021
But shocks do not appear to be in the pipeline and one would expect the reigning All-Ireland champions to palm away any gauntlets thrown in their direction in Leinster.
It appears as if Stephen Cluxton is back for more after speculation that the Dublin goalkeeping great had quietly stepped away, his team-mate Ciaran Kilkenny all but dispelling that talk when he told RTÉ's Game On that "we're looking forward to him and a load of other lads that have to come back in".
Others like Dean Rock will also essentially get their year underway in earnest having missed out on the league.
For this weekend, the six counties in preliminary round action had varying outcomes in the early summer as they sought momentum for the provincial championship - the pattern often being one of reversals in fortune between form in the main league table and form in the subsequent semi-final/play-off/final fixture.
Offaly, who take on a Louth under the management of three-time All-Ireland winning former Tyrone boss Mickey Harte, could take encouragement from the way they gained momentum through Division 3 South with three wins from three on route to promotion by holding off Fermanagh's fight-back before Derry proved a step too far in the final last weekend.
That result may have taken a small bit of wind from their sails given the comprehensive nature of the loss which - their goal aside - saw them score just one point from play in the 12-point defeat.
Louth also enjoyed promotion, making the rise from Division 4 as the Harte era began in positive fashion.
Overcoming the setback of an opening loss to Antrim in the 'North' section, the Wee County made big gains by brushing Leitrim and Sligo aside and then getting the better of Carlow in impressive fashion in the divisional semi-final.
With no back-door system this year, it sets up an intriguing opening Leinster championship clash between them and Offaly, with Tomás Ó Sé tipping the latter to edge it. The prize for the winner will be a quarter-final against Kildare.
With the opening weekend of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship almost upon us, @MartyM_RTE takes a sneak preview of what lies ahead. #RTEGAA pic.twitter.com/ZoLodctCpT— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) June 24, 2021
But for Wicklow and Wexford, it's Dublin who await the winner of the other first round fixture which makes this Sunday's game something of a stay of execution.
The Garden County struggled in Division 3 South, losing three from three. But the manner in which they rallied from that downturn to set up a shock win over reigning Ulster champions Cavan and ensure survival in the relegation play-off puts a very timely pep back in their step.
It's a significant confidence booster as they play at the home comforts of Aughrim against a Wexford that finished rock bottom of the 'South' portion of the basement division after admittedly narrow defeats to Carlow and Waterford, although they did then win the Shield Final against Sligo comprehensively a couple of weeks ago.
Carlow finished top of Division 4 South with two wins from two before missing out on promotion after the aforementioned loss to Louth, whereas Longford's highest-point in Division 3 North was a draw against Fermanagh after defeats to Cavan and Derry. But like Wicklow, they managed to find an extra gear and reversal in fortune in the play-off round as they beat another reigning provincial champion in the shape of Tipperary in the relegation semi-final.
Whoever comes out on top though will face Meath in the quarter-final.
Follow all the championship matches this weekend with our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app.
Watch Down v Donegal and Clare v Waterford live on RTÉ One (from 12.55pm) and see highlights of all the weekend's action on The Sunday Game at 9.30pm on RTÉ One.
Listen to live and exclusive national radio commentaries on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday and Sunday Sport.