Allianz Football League Preview: Division 1

Can Dublin win a fifth sucessive title?

BY Sinéad Farrell 13:03 Wednesday 1 February 2017, 13:03 1 Feb 2017

©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Now that the pre-season competitions have concluded, the GAA season is about to heat up with the arrival of the National Leagues.

Many would argue that this is, ironically, the most competitive stretch in the GAA calendar. Given the format of the competition, the regularity of games and the quality of the teams facing each other, the potential for more evenly matched fixtures increases at this time of year.

The stock placed on League form has risen in recent years and often tends to correlate with how teams perform in the championship.  

Here's a preview of the Division 1 teams:

Image: James McCarthy and Kerry's Kieran Donaghy tussle for possession in the 2016 Allianz Football Final.

County: Dublin

Where Did They Finish Last Year: 1st (Winners)

Expectations For This Year: Jim Gavin's charges continue to thrive. In the absence of the first team, who were holidaying abroad earlier in the month, the development panel proved to be more than competent reinforcements, capturing the O'Byrne Cup with ease last weekend.

2016 brought a slew of riches for Dublin, including the Division 1 League title, the Leinster Championship and All-Ireland crown. Unless one of their trailing competitors can produce something to interrupt their momentum, Dublin look prime to secure a fifth consecutive league title.

 

Image: Mayo's Alan Dillon in action against Roscommon during the 2017 league campaign.

County: Mayo

Where Did They Finish Last Year: 5th

Expectations For This Year: It took a while for Mayo to settle into the league last year, losing out to Cork, Dublin and Donegal in the early rounds. Mayo will be aiming for a better start to the 2017 campaign.

Image: Donegal's Paddy McBrearty trying to evade the attention of Dublin's Cian O'Sullivan.

County: Donegal 

Where Did They Finish Last Year: 4th (Defeated in the semi-final by Dublin)

Expectations For This Year: Donegal shipped a heavy defeat to Dublin in that Division 1 semi-final, but making the semi-finals is a useful platform to work from. Finishing higher up the table would be the first priority for the county with one eye on progressing to the final this year.

Image: A dejected Colm Cooper and Kieran Donaghy look on as Dublin win their fourth Division 1 League title in-a-row.

County: Kerry

Where Did They Finish Last Year: 2nd (Defeated by Dublin in the final)

Expectations This Year: After suffering an upset against Roscommon in the early stages of last year's league, Kerry comprehensively avenged for that slip-up in the semi-final with a 3-15 to 0-14 win. A heavy defeat to Dublin in the decider was a disappointing sign-off but retaining a top-two finish this year would be reasonable objective for 2017.

Image: Monagahn retained their Division 1 status against Donegal last year.

County: Monaghan

Where Did They Finish Last Year: 6th

Expectations For This Year:  They finished third from bottom and needed an injury-time point against Donegal to ensure they would be competing in the top division again this year. On a positive note, they stretched Dublin in an impressive display in Croke Park at the end of February, where Dublin had to stage a comeback and earn a one-point win.

Looking to this year, improving on their final placing and potentially getting to the semi-finals would be the target to aim for.

Image: Ciarán Murtagh in action for Roscommon during the 2016 League.

County: Roscommon

Where Did They Finish Last Year: 3rd

Expectations For This Year: Kevin McStay's side impressed in the league last year, but will face into their opening round against Tyrone on Sunday without some of their seasoned campaigners. Cathal Cregg and Neil Collins have both withdrawn from the panel for 2017.

Meanwhile, two former Roscommon captains Geoffrey Claffey and Niall Carty have retired from inter-county football. Cregg played an influential role and will be a notable absentee in the forward line. 

With those losses in mind, Roscommon should still be capable of a top-five finish on the League table.

Image: Tyrone players celebrating their Division 2 League win.

County: Tyrone

Where Did They Finish Last Year: Promoted from Division 2

Expectations For This Year: Mickey Harte's men are back in Division 1 and could realistically aspire to a League semi-final or final appearance. Sean Cavanagh's decision to recommit to the Ulster county will boost their chances of achieving those goals.

Image: Disappointed Cavan players after their loss to Tyrone in the Division 2 final.

County: Cavan

Where Did They Finish Last Year: Promoted from Division 2

Expectations For This Year: Newly appointed manager Mattie McGleenan will have to navigate his side through some tricky assignments in Division 1. Producing enough results to preserve their spot in the Division would be a manageable goal in this campaign. 

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