Allianz NFL 2014

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Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:25 pm

In 2013 we had threads for each of the divisions, but I think that this year we could make do with just one covering all league action.  

You still get the occasional idiot decrying the league, claiming that it has no relevance or importance, but that is nonsense.  On the contrary, last year saw big spring performances from Dublin, Tyrone & Mayo (all of whom made the AI semi-finals), while Monaghan & Meath followed up promotion from division 3 with strong summers.  Of those who went badly in the league, Donegal, Down, Cork, Armagh, Longford, Wexford, Antrim and Wicklow all failed to make any impact on the championship.

I'm sure we'll get into different sides in depth but, without having properly looked at how many home games each side has, my early predictions are as follows:

Division 1
Semi-Finalists: Dublin, Cork, Tyrone, Mayo
Relegated: Derry & Westmeath

Division 2
Promoted: Donegal & Galway
Relegated: Laois & Louth

Division 3
Promoted: Cavan & Wexford
Relegated: Offaly & Fermanagh

Division 4
Promoted: Antrim & Tipperary
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Gaa_lover on Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:34 am

Division 1
Semi-Finalists: Dublin, Kerry, Tyrone, Mayo
Relegated: Derry & Westmeath

Division 2
Promoted: Donegal & Down
Relegated: Armagh & Louth

Division 3
Promoted: Cavan & Roscommon
Relegated: Offaly & Limerick

Division 4
Promoted: Antrim & Tipperary

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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:17 am

Gaa_lover wrote:Division 1
Semi-Finalists: Dublin, Kerry, Tyrone, Mayo
Relegated: Derry & Westmeath

Division 2
Promoted: Donegal & Down
Relegated: Armagh & Louth

Division 3
Promoted: Cavan & Roscommon
Relegated: Offaly & Limerick

Division 4
Promoted: Antrim & Tipperary

Get yourself into this….

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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  RMDrive on Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:27 pm

Great win for Donegal today albeit against a very poor Laois side. Laois went down to 14 in the 2nd half but in reality this game was over by half time.
Very encouraging to see some of our new/fringe players perform well - McElhinny, McNiallis, Hugh McFadden all performed well. All Donegal people will have been delighted to see Christy Magnus Toye back in action and according to Highland he but in a MOTM performance. His missed all of last year with an illiness and today was involved in everything that Donegal did well. Apparently he played a part in every single one of Donegal's score in the first half (1-06).
There'll be tougher challenges ahead (starting with Galway next week) but a satisfying start to our Div 2 campaign never the less (Game -7 as Horan calls it).
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:47 pm

Thoughts for the week:

- Kerry don't have a lot to be optimistic about.  Their defenders are tidy footballers, but struggle to defend 1-on-1.  The support they get from Donnacha Walsh and Jonathan Lyne protects them early in games, but wing forwards tire and then gaps appear.  

- James O'Donoghue is a class act and his goal was superb.  After Cooper, he might be Kerry's most important player.

- As Kerry were bringing on increasingly obscure young subs, Dublin were bringing on AI winners.  They have so much strength in depth, and the likes of Cormac Costello and Sean George look like adding to Jim Gavin's enviable selection headaches as the year goes on.

- Derry/Tyrone was a very good game tough conditions.  Brian McIvor (with Paddy Crozier and Paddy Tally) has Derry fit and organised.  I don't expect them to be challenging to league/AI honours, but they still have the makings of the best Derry side in 10 years.  Both Derry & Tyrone will feel that they should have won this game, but both should feel satisfied with a draw that looked beyond both at various times.

- At first glance, Cork under Brian Cuthbert look like Cork under Conor Counihan.  Big, direct and athletic.  They will again be one of the better teams this summer.

- Did we ever think we'd see a day when Mayo, Donegal and Kildare scored 6-56 between them?  All 3 will be happy, but nobody more than Jim McGuinness.  As predicted [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]Laois are in trouble, but 2-19 away from home is just the start that Donegal needed after their 2013 troubles.

- Meath picked a very strong side to open the league, and were rewarded with a win/scoreline that will give them a huge boost.  Mick O'Dowd spoke afterwards about varying tactics, something that Meath are not known for, so perhaps they finally have the right man at the helm in the Royal county.

- Wins for Wexford, Cavan, Roscommon and Tipp saw the likely lads in divisions 3&4 get off to good starts, but Leitrim could also soon be in that same bracket.  They beat an improving Antrim with something to spare, and will now be seriously eyeing promotion.

- The black card is a joke.  Danny McBride, Aidan O'Shea and Paul Cribbin were all sent off for very innocuous fouls, and I understand that similar incidents occurred in other games.  All 3 were, by definition, black card offences, but no other sport evicts players for very minor infractions.  It is a farce, and very unfair on players who put in so much commitment.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  samin12 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:17 pm

T.c did Donegal not knock Tyrone out of ulster championship last year? Cavan, London both had poor leagues and good championship's. Donegal just about escaped relegation the previous year and went on to win the all-Ireland. That same year armagh drew with Kerry and cork in the league, would not have got within 8 points of them in championship football. Kildare have done fairly well in league, not made much of an impact in championship past couple of years. Don't get me wrong you wont get a bad team winning the league anymore but you only have to look at the amount of lower division teams that beat teams higher up the leagues than them to understand that most counties still use it as preparation for championship. Nice surely to get a good run and a winning mentality from the league but with amount of injuries, lack of fitness, club championship commitments it is not always a true reflection of where a team is at.

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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:36 pm

samin12 wrote:T.c did Donegal not knock Tyrone out of ulster championship last year? Cavan, London both had poor leagues and good championship's. Donegal just about escaped relegation the previous year and went on to win the all-Ireland. That same year armagh drew with Kerry and cork in the league, would not have got within 8 points of them in championship football. Kildare have done fairly well in league, not made much of an impact in championship past couple of years. Don't get me wrong you wont get a bad team winning the league anymore but you only have to look at the amount of lower division teams that beat teams higher up the leagues than them to understand that most counties still use it as preparation for championship. Nice surely to get a good run and a winning mentality from the league but with amount of injuries, lack of fitness, club championship commitments it is not always a true reflection of where a team is at.

Not sure I follow the point of your post in relation to mine, Samin, but if it is to say that the league is not a good indicator of future performance, then I don't agree.

Cavan and Armagh were only separated by a few league places, while London beat Leitrim and Sligo - minor upsets at best. Cavan did beat Derry and Fermanagh beat Westmeath, but you'll always get the odd surprise amongst average teams, largely because the gap between the best team in the country and the 10th best is much greater than the gap between 11th and 20th. Of course you get the odd anomaly, but Kildare is not one of these either, as they lost last summer to Dublin & Tyrone, the league finalists (nor is Donegal, who played well once in 2013).

Of the last 12 sides to make an AI semi final, only one of them finished outside the top 6 in division 1 that year, and that was Donegal in 2011 (they topped division 2 that year). Of course the championship is the main priority for sides, but the league is a very stronger indicator of summer potential in the vast majority of cases.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  samin12 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:22 pm

I agree with much of what you say. The all-Ireland winners will almost certainly come from the top half of division 1. I was speaking in reference to your first post that some idiots will argue that the league has no relevance or is not an indicator of things to come for championship. In my opinion it has very little relevance. Yes you have your top teams who will be chasing honours in both competitions. But for most of the other counties that need more work than the dublins or mayos its about improvement, trying game plans and also introducing players to county football. Take even Tyrone and Derry they other night. I certainly wouldn't expect it to be as close come championship.

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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:56 pm

samin12 wrote:Take even Tyrone and Derry they other night. I certainly wouldn't expect it to be as close come championship.

I wouldn't be reading too much into an opening league game, but I do think that the league as a whole is a very good indicator of where a team stands.

On its own, Division 1 nearly provides enough evidence for this, as the top flight has invariably provided the AI champions for over a decade.  Beyond this however, breakthrough teams have almost always had strong league campaigns to kick it off, for example:

- 2013 Monaghan promoted from division 3 ---> Ulster champions
- 2011 Donegal promoted from division 2 ---> Ulster champions
- 2010 Down promoted from division 2 ---> AI finalists

In the mid-noughties, Laois, Monaghan and Fermanagh were all in division 1 when they were making AI quarter finals, while Sligo and Antrim were in division 2 when they were making/winning provincial finals.  Meath's good summer last year came on the back of a better league campaign.

The reverse is also true for many of those sides.  Armagh's league decline has coincided with their championship woes, as has Down's.  Donegal last year is another example, while Galway's middle-of-the-pack routine in division 2 over the last few years has reflected their disappointing summer form.  Tyrone's relegation from division 1 coincided with a 3 year spell in which which they failed to make the AI semis (2010-2012), but that ended last year on our return to the top table.

So, I guess what I'm arguing is that you will get individual surprises in any given league or championship but, in general, how a side is going in the spring is indicative of how they will fare in the summer.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  RMDrive on Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:18 pm

My season ticket will get it's first run out this weekend. I'm not able to drive at the moment (finally got my cruciate done in Jan) and it was looking like I would miss most league games. However a shopping/football negotiation with Mrs Drive means that I will be heading to Salthill on Sunday.

I'm hopeful of a win. While Galway notched up a great score agin Meath, I reckon Murphy and McFadden will be able to get some scores against that defence. If we match what we did in Portlaoise then we'll be ok.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:38 pm

RMDrive wrote:My season ticket will get it's first run out this weekend. I'm not able to drive at the moment (finally got my cruciate done in Jan) and it was looking like I would miss most league games. However a shopping/football negotiation with Mrs Drive means that I will be heading to Salthill on Sunday.

I'm hopeful of a win. While Galway notched up a great score agin Meath, I reckon Murphy and McFadden will be able to get some scores against that defence. If we match what we did in Portlaoise then we'll be ok.

I think this will be an interesting game. Salthill is never an easy place to get a league win, and Donegal may be on a bit of false high after last Sunday. The bookies are going with Donegal, but I've gone for an upset in the Tipster competition. I'll be impressed if Donegal are comfortable winners again.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:43 pm

Half-time in the Athletic Grounds, and it's Armagh leading Down 1-3 to 0-3.

Dreadful stuff, though largely explained by terrible conditions. Heavy rain and a strong wind which, though seemingly not straight down the pitch, has favoured Armagh in the first period.

If the wind holds up, and assuming that they haven't spent too much energy trying to combat it, Down will fancy their chances of turning this around in the second half.

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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:07 pm

Down goal within 2 minutes of the restart (Poland fist to net from close range). 1-3 apiece. Armagh really up against it playing into the wind.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Gaa_lover on Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:44 pm

Late goal/winner for Down when it looked like a Lucky 2nd half goal would more or less win it for Armagh though Down poor with or without the win. Could Down not wear away jersey tonight?

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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:52 pm

1-1 in the dying minutes was enough for Down to drag this one out of the fire by a scoreline of 2-7 to 2-5.

The Mournemen led narrowly and looked to be in control midway through the second half, but then the Down keeper misjudged a high ball and Armagh's Mark Shields punched to the net, giving the home side the lead again. Almost immediately, Armagh's Robbie Tasker got a straight red (for the second successive week the Setanta cameras missed the sending off offence), but still Armagh dug deep and Down went a long period without scoring. Armagh led 2-5 to 1-6 as injury time approached, but Mark Poland's second goal changed everything.

Awful conditions so perhaps it's unfair to judge, but neither side looked good. Armagh perhaps deserved better for their efforts when reduced to 14 men, and Ciaran McKeever particularly didn't deserve to lose.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Boxtyeater on Sat Feb 08, 2014 10:05 pm

Thomas Clarke wrote:  Armagh's Robbie Tasker got a straight red (for the second successive week the Setanta cameras missed the sending off offence), but still Armagh dug deep and Down went a long period without scoring.   

Watching too much Sky guff.

FAO RMD: You will need 2 overcoats in Pearse Stadium  Suspect  such is the ferocity of the wind there...

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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  RMDrive on Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:51 am

Boxtyeater wrote:
FAO RMD: You will need 2 overcoats in Pearse Stadium  Suspect  such is the ferocity of the wind there...


Noted  Very Happy 
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:48 pm

H-T in Omagh, and Tyrone lead 1-9 to 0-6. Mayo started more brightly and have created several goalscoring chances throughout the half, most of them early on. As the half wore on, Cavanagh and Grugan started to get the upper hand at midfield, and Donnelly (0-5) & MCurry (1-3) have been extremely accurate.

Tyrone have scored 1-8 from play (can't recall any wides) in reasonably good conditions, but if Mayo continue to create goal chances this could still be turned around.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:43 pm

2-15 to 0-15 victory for Tyrone.  Mayo reduced the gap to 2 points with 20 minutes to go, but Tyrone a second Darren McCurry goal killed off the game.  Tyrone were able to bring on stronger subs, including Sean Cavanagh for his first appearance of the year, and that meant that a Mayo fightback was never really going to materialise.

Darren McCurry and Mattie Donnelly caused havoc for the Mayo fullback line, while Colm Cavanagh and Conor Clarke were also superb for Tyrone.  Ciaran McGinley was another who really came to the fore as the game wore on.  It's also worth noting that the inexperienced Tyrone half-forward line, that I mentioned when the team was selected, were all replaced relatively early.

For Mayo, Adam Gallagher played quite well in attack and Lee Keegan was impressive as always, but they don't seem to have too much strength in depth, certainly once you go past their first 19-20 players.  They will still need to add forwards for the summer but, for now, a relegation dogfight should be more of a concern for them.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  RMDrive on Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:19 pm

A good enough win for Donegal today in Salthill. We always looked fairly on control although at times we struggled against Galway's blanket defence and looked clueless about how to get over the half way line.

Some good performances from some of the lesser lights - Martin McElhinney played his best game ever in a Donegal shirt while Ryan McHugh and Brick Molloy were also impressive. McFadden scored a nice goal after a really slick handpassing move by Donegal. You can really see how the black card is adding to our running game (although you can see how it will put us and all teams under a lot more pressure after turnovers).

The fabled Pearse Park wind was in evidence but strangely Galway only scored 4 points with it, and 8 against it. Thanks to Boxty's advice the extra layers were added and we found a nice spot up the back of the stand.

Finin Hanley left the field after 13 minutes with what I took at the time to be a knee injury, but subsequently found out it was a deep cut. I can only guess it was from studs, and glad he's not seriously injured.


Some interesting results elsewhere in Div 2. Monaghan obviously mean business however you'd wonder what is the story with a Meath team that can score 1 point in the first half after their shoot out with Galway. Fair play to Laois for bouncing back against Louth. I genuinely didn't think they'd win a game at all.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:55 pm

Very good win for Donegal - I felt that there may be a bit of a comedown after the Laois performance, but to thump Galway in Salthill is impressive. Monaghan in the next match will be a really interesting game.

Meath are what Meath have been for a decade: capable of a good game, and capable of being blitzed by almost anyone. They should be worried as they are closer to full strength than almost any other side in the top 2 divisions. They should also worry as in the last 12 months they have played Monaghan 3 times, and the results were:

Clones, Feb 2013: Monaghan 1-18 Meath 2-3
Croke Pk, Apr 2013: Monaghan 2-16 Meath 3-8
Clones, Feb 2013: Monaghan 0-20 Meath 0-8

The last time we saw one side impose such dominance on another was when Cork routinely handed out 15 point pastings to Down a couple of years ago.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  bocerty on Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:03 pm

Thomas Clarke wrote:2-15 to 0-15 victory for Tyrone.  Mayo reduced the gap to 2 points with 20 minutes to go, but Tyrone a second Darren McCurry goal killed off the game.  Tyrone were able to bring on stronger subs, including Sean Cavanagh for his first appearance of the year, and that meant that a Mayo fightback was never really going to materialise.

Darren McCurry and Mattie Donnelly caused havoc for the Mayo fullback line, while Colm Cavanagh and Conor Clarke were also superb for Tyrone.  Ciaran McGinley was another who really came to the fore as the game wore on.  It's also worth noting that the inexperienced Tyrone half-forward line, that I mentioned when the team was selected, were all replaced relatively early.

For Mayo, Adam Gallagher played quite well in attack and Lee Keegan was impressive as always, but they don't seem to have too much strength in depth, certainly once you go past their first 19-20 players.  They will still need to add forwards for the summer but, for now, a relegation dogfight should be more of a concern for them.

2-15 to 0-16 TC tut tut!!!

A good game of football still a relatively young inexperienced side and things are looking good, granted we did call on some of the big guns to see this game out but i think we deserved the victory.

A great return from both Donnelly and McCurry the latter growing in stature with every game. Took his goals well great composure on both occasions.

Donnelly hit some fantastic scores the majority of which seemed to come from his weaker left foot. Still plenty to work on though for Mickey, Mayo had at least 3 decent goal chances and Morgan had 2 fine saves which could have left the result very different. McGinley had a good game too but has a tendency to give the ball away very cheaply at critical times and in critical areas of the field, that said he was involved in alot of Tyrone attacks, one point that Donnelly got in or around 5-6 minutes involved some sublime interchange play which McGinley had a big hand in and he was involved in the first goal too.

Shea McGuigan had an OK game but gets caught in possession far too often, but hes young and more games should get him used to the pace of League football.

All in all a good day and a good work in progress up here in the Red Hand County

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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  Thomas Clarke on Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:19 pm

bocerty wrote:
Shea McGuigan had an OK game but gets caught in possession far too often, but hes young and more games should get him used to the pace of League football.

Ah yes, I forgot about Mayo's last point!

The half forwards were all very poor today, but McGuigan will get better as the year goes on. I agree with you that his problem at present is the step-up in speed from what he's previously been used to. Emmet McKenna may be one for next year, but looks too light at present. Peter Hughes returned to the panel this year after a 2 year break, but still looks like a nice, skilful club footballer.

On Mattie Donnelly, he kicked every point with his left foot, but you are saying that he is stronger on his right? Are you sure, Boc?

Your man Tiernan McCann had a better game today. He's light, but quite fast and plays with his head up.
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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  bocerty on Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:48 pm

Thomas Clarke wrote:
bocerty wrote:
Shea McGuigan had an OK game but gets caught in possession far too often, but hes young and more games should get him used to the pace of League football.

Ah yes, I forgot about Mayo's last point!

The half forwards were all very poor today, but McGuigan will get better as the year goes on.  I agree with you that his problem at present is the step-up in speed from what he's previously been used to.  Emmet McKenna may be one for next year, but looks too light at present.  Peter Hughes returned to the panel this year after a 2 year break, but still looks like a nice, skilful club footballer.

On Mattie Donnelly, he kicked every point with his left foot, but you are saying that he is stronger on his right?  Are you sure, Boc?

Your man Tiernan McCann had a better game today.  He's light, but quite fast and plays with his head up.

99.9% sure that Mattie is right footed TC - though it was hard to tell today and thats a massive bonus to us.

Tiernan played well i thought, he and McGinley are very similar i think, quick enough players and show a lot of composure when on the ball, Tiernan would have a tendency to carry the ball into tackles though which is rarely a good idea, though the black card seems to have left players on edge when it comes to the tackle

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Re: Allianz NFL 2014

Post  bald eagle on Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:43 pm

Kerry not off to the greatest of starts in the league, not that I'm complaining!

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