Down v Kildare
Kildare are pretty much assured of third place as Cork cannot catch them and they are unlikely to finish ahead of Tyrone or Dublin as they need them both to lose and then have a huge swing in the score difference to come ahead of either of them.
For Down it is simple, win to have any chance whatsoever. A loss or draw relegates them. To stay up they need two of Mayo, Kerry and Donegal to lose and then hope that they can turn the score difference around. They would beat Kerry in this scenario as they currently have -19 to Kerry’s -20. But Donegal have a 0 score difference whereas Mayo are on +2 so it would take a big win and a big loss for Donegal and/or Mayo for Down to stay up.
The chances are extremely slim of Down staying in the division but they can exit the division on a high note and go into the championship on the back of a win by beating Kildare.
Cork v Mayo
This is both a battle for the last semi final place and a relegation battle. For Cork if they win or draw they will be in the semi final. If they lose and Kerry and Donegal also win then there will be a 4 way tie on 6 points where the team with the worst score difference will be relegated. Currently Cork sit on -5. In this scenario they would be competing with Kerry for relegation as Donegal and Mayo would improve upon their score differences, which are already better than Cork’s. Kerry have – 20 so for Cork to go down there would need to be a 16 point swing between their results, i.e if Cork lost by 8 and Kerry won by 8 Cork would have -13 and Kerry -12, relegating Cork. This is very unlikely to happen.
For Mayo the situation is similar to Cork despite being two points behind the rebels. A loss leads to more chance of relegation than a Cork loss would but a win could have them in the semi finals. If Mayo win and Donegal and Kerry lose or draw their respective games then Mayo will be in the semi final. If Mayo win and one of Donegal and Kerry win then it will come down to score difference to decide the semi finalist. As mentioned it is unlikely Kerry would close the score difference gap if it came to that scenario but Donegal could edge Mayo out in score difference in this scenario as they currently sit just 2 back of Mayo on score difference. Cork would be out of semi final contention in either of these scenarios.
If Mayo lose they will be relegated if Donegal and Kerry avoid defeat. If Donegal, Kerry and Down lose then score difference will decide who is relegated. If Donegal or Kerry are the only team on 4 or 5 points (assuming one of them win and one of them draw for 5 points) with Mayo then Mayo will edge both of them out on head to head. There are a lot of permutations but basically for Mayo win and they will be safe with the possible bonus of a semi final place, lose and it is out of their hands. Draw and it is also out of their hands.
Mayo were well beaten by Cork in last year’s league final and have a poor history against the Rebels. Both sides have had players absent this year through injury this year in the league and have players missing for this game also.
It should be a tough battle in store with all to play for in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Tyrone v Kerry
Tyrone may be guaranteed their place in the semi final but the sight of Kerry in Omagh will be enough to get them going for this clash.
For Kerry they have to get something from the game to have any chance of staying up. On any head to head record decider with Mayo or Donegal they will lose out. Unless the win by a big margin and Mayo and/or Donegal lose by a big margin then they will also be relegated as they have a vastly inferior score difference. To realistically stay up they need to win and hope that one of Donegal or Mayo lose. If they draw they also need one of Donegal or Mayo to lose and they will be safe. They have an extremely slim chance of a semi final spot but if they won by a very big margin and Cork lost then if results worked out for them they could come 4th on score difference.
For Kerry safety would do as they looked doomed after losing their opening four games. It was not just the losing but the manner of the defeats that were alarming. Kerry have scored the least across all four divisions, something unthinkable usually as they are known for their scoring. What has gone unnoticed however is that despite four defeats in a poor manner, Kerry actually have the best defensive record in Division 1. Are Kerry working on something defensively based for the Summer?
Whatever about Summer days this game should be an extremely tough affair. There is no love lost here and a bitterness has crept into this rivalry. This has been more of an issue in club games between teams representing both counties. Last year when Kerry beat Tyrone in the championship in Kerry it was evident how much it meant to Kerry demonstrating how big of a rivalry this is. Tyrone would love to relegate Kerry on Sundaym even if they do not say so out loud. Colm Cooper starts this one, as does Paul Galvin.
Expect plenty of action in Omagh on Sunday.
Donegal v Dublin
Dublin are already guaranteed their semi final spot. They may try out some different players but the league has shown us that Dublin have strength in depth so any Dublin team will be strong.
Donegal are in a similar situation to Mayo with a few variances. If Mayo and Donegal lose and Kerry draw or win then Donegal will be relegated on head to head with Mayo. If Mayo and Donegal draw their respective games and Kerry win they will be relegated in the same manner. In any 3 or 4 way tie on either 4, 5 or 6 points which is possible then score difference will decide things. Donegal should edge out Kerry in any score difference battle. If Mayo, Down and Donegal end up tied on 4 points then the margin of defeats for Donegal and Mayo will be important as Mayo currently lead Donegal by just 2 points on score difference. Donegal can make the semi finals if Mayo beat Cork and Donegal win by 3 points more than Mayo do.
If Donegal win then they have their fate in their own hands and should stay up, draw or lose and its out of their hands.
Dublin are the only team to beat Donegal in championship action under Jim McGuiness and he will be looking forward to a test against the Dubs but still maintaining focus on their championship date with Tyrone.
Another intriguing battle is in store in Ballybofey.
Predicted Top 4 Teams: Tyrone, Dublin, Kildare & Mayo
Predicted Relegated Teams: Down & Kerry