Can an Ulster Team Win the 2017 Allianz Football League?
February 27, 2017 (No Comments) by Dean Fitzgerald

can-an-ulster-team-win-the-2017-allianz-football-league

After three weeks, the Allianz National Football Leagues have been living up to their expectations as the least predictable, most entertaining part of the GAA Football calendar. Every week there seems to be a surprise upset and teams are performing above expectations around the country. Even Dublin aren’t coasting through games like they usually do. It’s refreshing to see. Ulster teams are at the forefront of this discussion, as we gauge what chances each team has to win their respective division.

Strength in Depth

The Ulster championship is seen as the most competitive of the four provinces in championship football, so it’s only natural that we make close inspections to how each team performs in the League.

With Dublin faltering, Kerry struggling for form, and four Ulster teams in Division 1, could this be the year that one of those teams upends the favourites? Three Ulster teams feature in Division 2, with the final two plying their trade in Division 3, making Ulster the only province with no Division 4 teams. Ulster really is as competitive as it seems. Is it the defensive ‘puke football’ Pat Spillane so often criticises? Maybe it’s what they’re fed up there. It’s hard to know.

In order to answer the question posed, we need to assess each team’s performance thus far in the League. The big factor in winning League titles is consistency, which will feature a lot in seeing whether these team can compete.

Allianz League – Division 1

Monaghan

After a poor championship last year, many were ready to write Monaghan off, myself included. They’ve proven most people wrong so far, registering wins over Mayo and Kerry and drawing with Cavan. The talismanic Conor McManus once again leads the attack, but with Dublin and Tyrone to come, you do get the feeling that Monaghan are just one or two more marquee forwards short of seriously competing for League and All-Ireland honours. They should be safe from relegation the way they’re playing at the moment though. Division 1 Chances – 4/10

monaghan-v-kerry-allianz-league-2017

Tyrone

Ulster champions of 2016, Tyrone have picked up where they left off last year, dismantling Roscommon, who seem slightly out of place in Division 1 so far, and being a late point from beating the Dubs. Their game against Cavan was postponed by Storms Doris and Ewan (who comes up with storm names and does it pay well?) waterlogging the pitch. Nevertheless, Tyrone seem on a mission to compete at the top table this season, and they just might be in with a big shout. Chances – 7/10

tyrone-v-dublin-allianz-league-2017

Donegal

A team that were gutted of 8 players in the off-season due to retirement, and seemed out of ideas to really trouble Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland Quarter Final, so it’s no surprise that Donegal have only managed a win, draw and loss after 3 games. Drawing with Dublin most recently showed their resolve as they forced Dublin into a war of attrition rather than a proper game of football, but Donegal just don’t have enough talent to win Division 1 at the moment. A mid-table finish or nervy relegation scare is most likely. Chances – 3/10

donegal-v-dublin-allianz-league-2017

Cavan

With only 2 games to judge on, Cavan appear to be in the relegation dogfight with Roscommon, Kerry and Donegal. They brought a big crowd at home to Dublin, but looked outmatched. An encouraging draw away to Monaghan will lift spirits, but Cavan have little chance to no chance of threatening the contenders in Division 1. They aren’t nailed down to be relegated, but it seems far more likely than winning the division. Chances – 1/10

monaghan-v-cavan-allianz-league-2017

Allianz League – Division 2

Derry

Many believe Division 2 to be the most competitive division in the League. Derry epitomised that belief with their results, drawing at home to Clare and losing heavily to Meath before ending Kildare’s perfect record. It’s hard to tell if that win was a flash in the pan or if Derry are clicking, but if they perform like that consistently, they may be in the hunt. Sadly, Derry aren’t known for consistency. The Slaughtneil men are certainly being missed. Division 2 Chances – 5/10

Fermanagh

Out of 3 games The Ernesiders have picked up 1 win and 2 defeats. They beat Down handily before losing to Galway and Cork respectively. However, those losses came against genuine Division 2 contenders, so it’s difficult so say if Fermanagh can recover and be a challenger, or if they’ll fall into a relegation scrap. First off, Fermanagh have to avoid being dragged down before they focus on trying to go up. Like a dodgy kebab after a heavy night out, they could go either way. Chances – 3/10

fermanagh-v-down-allianz-league-2017

Down

Seemed destined for Division 3 after two losses to pre-League relegation candidates Fermanagh and Clare, before a massive win against Meath, their first win in League or Championship in nearly 2 years. Not close to competing for the top spots in Division 2 and must focus all of their energy on beating the teams around them in order to stay up. Chances – 1/10

Allianz League – Division 3

Armagh

Division 3 has been completely unpredictable so far, so much so that Armagh have a win, a draw, a loss, and yet are third. Losing to their bogey team Laois after having a 5-point cushion will have hurt, but don’t count Armagh out of heading straight back to Division 2 as winners. The return of Jamie Clarke to inter-county football may be the difference for the Orchard County. Chances – 6.5/10

armagh-v-longford-allianz-league-2017

Antrim

Beating Sligo at home is a massive boost to Antrim, having shipped 2-35 in their first two games against Tipperary and Offaly, basically unheard of for Ulster teams who thrive on defensive football. Much like Down in Division 2, Antrim must surely think of staying up rather than going up. Unfortunately for them, they look to be one of the bottom two teams in the division. Chances – 1/10

Still Plenty To Play For

Overall, it looks as though Ulster has two main chances to win League titles in Tyrone and Armagh, with the other counties looking short of being real contenders. That’s not to say they won’t spring into life and confound everyone, but it looks unlikely. Still, the Ulster Championship looks as intriguing as ever.

To see more of Ulster’s brightest young talent as well as other counties across the country, take a look at our article on 5 Exciting Gaelic Footballers Worth Watching in 2017.

Dean Fitzgerald
Can relate any life problems back to GAA. Has an interest in sport of all kinds, including even cricket for some reason.

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Can an Ulster Team Win the 2017 Allianz Football League?
February 27, 2017 (No Comments) by Dean Fitzgerald

can-an-ulster-team-win-the-2017-allianz-football-league

After three weeks, the Allianz National Football Leagues have been living up to their expectations as the least predictable, most entertaining part of the GAA Football calendar. Every week there seems to be a surprise upset and teams are performing above expectations around the country. Even Dublin aren’t coasting through games like they usually do. It’s refreshing to see. Ulster teams are at the forefront of this discussion, as we gauge what chances each team has to win their respective division.

Strength in Depth

The Ulster championship is seen as the most competitive of the four provinces in championship football, so it’s only natural that we make close inspections to how each team performs in the League.

With Dublin faltering, Kerry struggling for form, and four Ulster teams in Division 1, could this be the year that one of those teams upends the favourites? Three Ulster teams feature in Division 2, with the final two plying their trade in Division 3, making Ulster the only province with no Division 4 teams. Ulster really is as competitive as it seems. Is it the defensive ‘puke football’ Pat Spillane so often criticises? Maybe it’s what they’re fed up there. It’s hard to know.

In order to answer the question posed, we need to assess each team’s performance thus far in the League. The big factor in winning League titles is consistency, which will feature a lot in seeing whether these team can compete.

Allianz League – Division 1

Monaghan

After a poor championship last year, many were ready to write Monaghan off, myself included. They’ve proven most people wrong so far, registering wins over Mayo and Kerry and drawing with Cavan. The talismanic Conor McManus once again leads the attack, but with Dublin and Tyrone to come, you do get the feeling that Monaghan are just one or two more marquee forwards short of seriously competing for League and All-Ireland honours. They should be safe from relegation the way they’re playing at the moment though. Division 1 Chances – 4/10

monaghan-v-kerry-allianz-league-2017

Tyrone

Ulster champions of 2016, Tyrone have picked up where they left off last year, dismantling Roscommon, who seem slightly out of place in Division 1 so far, and being a late point from beating the Dubs. Their game against Cavan was postponed by Storms Doris and Ewan (who comes up with storm names and does it pay well?) waterlogging the pitch. Nevertheless, Tyrone seem on a mission to compete at the top table this season, and they just might be in with a big shout. Chances – 7/10

tyrone-v-dublin-allianz-league-2017

Donegal

A team that were gutted of 8 players in the off-season due to retirement, and seemed out of ideas to really trouble Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland Quarter Final, so it’s no surprise that Donegal have only managed a win, draw and loss after 3 games. Drawing with Dublin most recently showed their resolve as they forced Dublin into a war of attrition rather than a proper game of football, but Donegal just don’t have enough talent to win Division 1 at the moment. A mid-table finish or nervy relegation scare is most likely. Chances – 3/10

donegal-v-dublin-allianz-league-2017

Cavan

With only 2 games to judge on, Cavan appear to be in the relegation dogfight with Roscommon, Kerry and Donegal. They brought a big crowd at home to Dublin, but looked outmatched. An encouraging draw away to Monaghan will lift spirits, but Cavan have little chance to no chance of threatening the contenders in Division 1. They aren’t nailed down to be relegated, but it seems far more likely than winning the division. Chances – 1/10

monaghan-v-cavan-allianz-league-2017

Allianz League – Division 2

Derry

Many believe Division 2 to be the most competitive division in the League. Derry epitomised that belief with their results, drawing at home to Clare and losing heavily to Meath before ending Kildare’s perfect record. It’s hard to tell if that win was a flash in the pan or if Derry are clicking, but if they perform like that consistently, they may be in the hunt. Sadly, Derry aren’t known for consistency. The Slaughtneil men are certainly being missed. Division 2 Chances – 5/10

Fermanagh

Out of 3 games The Ernesiders have picked up 1 win and 2 defeats. They beat Down handily before losing to Galway and Cork respectively. However, those losses came against genuine Division 2 contenders, so it’s difficult so say if Fermanagh can recover and be a challenger, or if they’ll fall into a relegation scrap. First off, Fermanagh have to avoid being dragged down before they focus on trying to go up. Like a dodgy kebab after a heavy night out, they could go either way. Chances – 3/10

fermanagh-v-down-allianz-league-2017

Down

Seemed destined for Division 3 after two losses to pre-League relegation candidates Fermanagh and Clare, before a massive win against Meath, their first win in League or Championship in nearly 2 years. Not close to competing for the top spots in Division 2 and must focus all of their energy on beating the teams around them in order to stay up. Chances – 1/10

Allianz League – Division 3

Armagh

Division 3 has been completely unpredictable so far, so much so that Armagh have a win, a draw, a loss, and yet are third. Losing to their bogey team Laois after having a 5-point cushion will have hurt, but don’t count Armagh out of heading straight back to Division 2 as winners. The return of Jamie Clarke to inter-county football may be the difference for the Orchard County. Chances – 6.5/10

armagh-v-longford-allianz-league-2017

Antrim

Beating Sligo at home is a massive boost to Antrim, having shipped 2-35 in their first two games against Tipperary and Offaly, basically unheard of for Ulster teams who thrive on defensive football. Much like Down in Division 2, Antrim must surely think of staying up rather than going up. Unfortunately for them, they look to be one of the bottom two teams in the division. Chances – 1/10

Still Plenty To Play For

Overall, it looks as though Ulster has two main chances to win League titles in Tyrone and Armagh, with the other counties looking short of being real contenders. That’s not to say they won’t spring into life and confound everyone, but it looks unlikely. Still, the Ulster Championship looks as intriguing as ever.

To see more of Ulster’s brightest young talent as well as other counties across the country, take a look at our article on 5 Exciting Gaelic Footballers Worth Watching in 2017.

Dean Fitzgerald
Can relate any life problems back to GAA. Has an interest in sport of all kinds, including even cricket for some reason.

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