Dublin v Mayo
Dublin versus Mayo is turning into one of the glamour match ups in the GAA Both sides have ended each others years in the last two seasons and all games between the two are high scoring and absorbing encounters. Both sides sit on six points heading into this game, the winner will take a big step towards the semi final spot. The loser may be looking over their shoulder depending on other results but it is highly unlikely that either will be operating from Division 2 next year.
Dublin have not hit their 2013 league form this season. The good thing for the Dubs is they have given new and younger players a chance to stake a claim while still earning three wins. Jim Gavin has made seven changes to the team the lost to Derry, going with a more experienced line up against strong opposition.
Mayo have been on a steady upward curve throughout the league and can be happy with their league campaign to date. They have scored freely and lead the league in goals scored but also have conceded the most with 10 in both columns. They have introduced some new players such as Adam Gallagher, Shane Mc Hale, Brendan Harrison and Mikey Sweeney as well as giving game time to more seasoned players. They have played the game in fits and starts, notably against Westmeath and Cork where they put up a lot of scores in succession but also conceded a lot of score in succession in other periods of the game. James Horan will be hoping for a more consistent seventy minutes on Saturday night. Dublin can be extremely lethal in front of goal so if Mayo are leaky at the back they may suffer the consequences.
Both these sides have bigger fish to fry later in the year but this is an important game for both nonetheless. Jim Gavin’s selection indicates how seriously he is approaching the game, Mayo start with a strong side too. It is set up to be another ding dong battle between the two. The visitors may just edge it
Cork v Tyrone
Tyrone will look to avoid a repeat of their last visit to Munster where they were comprehensively beaten by Kerry. To be fair to the Ulster side, it is their only loss to date in a league campaign that has been a good one, but the nature of the loss has been defining to a lot of people and asked a lot of questions. Tyrone made the league final and All Ireland semi final last year and will be looking to build on that in 2014. They were fortunate that their bounce back game was against Westmeath so this is their first true test since that reversal in Killarney. One would think they would be sufficiently motivated to right some wrongs but also to help secure a semi final berth.
Cork’s unbeaten start to the league came a cropper in Castlebar in the last round. Cork can be happy with their league campaign under new management and with a lot of new players. The return of Colm O Neill has been a boost. However, after winning their first four it would be disappointing for them to not make the semi finals. A home win will clinch that spot on Sunday.
Derry v Kildare
Derry have taken to life in Division 1 very well and may be guaranteed a semi final spot with a win. ( A Mayo Dublin draw would bring it to the last day with a Derry win). Their six point win over Dublin was very impressive, as was their win in Killarney.
Kildare have once again being on a downward curve from start to finish in the league. Another big loss to Dublin must have been psychologically damaging, they cannot seem to even compete with them anymore, as the late loss to Tyrone must have been with the game all but secure they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Kildare need to win to stay in the hunt to stay up, it will be hard in Derry against a side chasing the semi final.
Westmeath v Kerry
Westmeath remain pointless in Division 1. They did battle well against Mayo and Dublin but have shipped some big losses too. Westmeath are out of their depth at this level and would hope to learn from their time in Division 1 to improve.
Kerry have had a decent league campaign despite sitting on only four points and in relegation danger. A good performance against Dublin and the annihilation of Tyrone show that Kerry can compete with the big boys still, despite the loss of Colm Cooper. James O Donoghue has been excellent in the league to date and the hope will be he can continue his scoring exploits later in the year.
With a win, Kerry should ensure survival and Westmeath’s relegation would be confirmed.