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5 Games To Watch Out For In Division's 3 & 4 Of The National Football League

5 Games To Watch Out For In Division's 3 & 4 Of The National Football League
Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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Probably to Joe Brolly's chagrin, competitive football returns this weekend. Here are five fixtures to keep an eye in the overlooked divisions.

Division 3

Armagh v Tipperary (1 February)


Conventional wisdom suggests the aspirations of promoted teams rarely rise above remaining in the division they've just arrived into.

However, Division 4 champions have made a habit of claiming double promotions in the past few years. Sligo won Division 3 in 2010 having been promoted from '4' the year before. Longford did likewise in 2012 (before heading back in Division 4 as soon as possible in time for this year's League).

And Tipperary, on the evidence of last year's qualifiers, look better equipped than most to prosper in Division 3 this season. Their forwards had fun last summer. They wreaked havoc against both Longford and Laois, scoring 2-18 (to a measly 0-6) against the former and 3-17 away to Laois. Even in their defeat to Galway, they mustered a remarkable 4-12.

Their opening game should be an interesting barometer of how far they've progressed. This Sunday, they face another team who experienced a renaissance last summer.

McGeeney has spent the week batting away suggestions that Armagh's training programme is borderline sadistic. The Armagh county board has been kept sharp issuing press releases on retirement announcements. The 2005 Young Footballer of the Year Aaron Kernan and goalkeeper Philip McEvoy have both stepped away at relatively young ages. For what it's worth (and it may not be much), Armagh's McKenna Cup campaign ended early in a stereotypically bad-tempered encounter with Tyrone.


Still, with McGeeney at the helm, Armagh look to have regained their purpose after a quiet few years around  the turn of the decade.

Limerick v Clare (29 March)


These two meet in the final round of games just two months before they meet in the Championship. Limerick held the upper hand for much of the 2000s, but the balance of power in this fixture appears to be changing hands.


A highly respectable performance against the eventual All-Ireland champions and running Kildare to within a point last season highlighted Clare's advancement in 2014. The announcement that Podge Collins was committing himself to football will give them another boost. Gary Brennan and Shane McGrath were the brightest stars in last year's campaign. Cratloe's effort in the Munster club was further evidence of their ascension.

The decision of iconic but usually injured midfielder John Galvin to retire could dampen spirits in Limerick.

Wexford v Armagh (8 February)



The media ban derby?


Who remembers that famous rain-drenched All-Ireland quarter-final between Kerry and Galway in 2008? Few recall that Wexford beat Armagh in the first leg of that double-bill.

In a tight and tense game, Mattie Forde hit a hot streak late on, and casually swung over a series of points from some impossibly tight angles. The game condemned Armagh to a few years in wilderness and sent Wexford to unimagined heights. Now Armagh have emerged from their slumber but they have a treacherous start to the League. Coming on top of the clash with Tipperary, they travel to Wexford Park.


Wexford have been mystifyingly flat in the League compared to their spirited efforts in the championship in the past few years but with Diathi Waters in midfield and a slick forward line they have the weapons to cause anyone (except Dublin it seems) problems.


Longford v Offaly (29 March)



Two of the obvious favourites for the Division 4 title meet in Pearse Park in the final round of games.

Longford received some good news over the winter. Paul Barden, running riot in the Longford attack since 1999, is giving it another whirl on the dancefloor. Perhaps disturbingly for Longford, he was the county's most impressive forward in last year's championship.

Another defeat in a crunch tie with Wexford condemned Longford to a double relegation and another spring in the lowest tier. Their championship, while marked by one exceptional high up in Celtic Park, was a generally dispiriting affair. There is a sense that the county is on a downward slope at the moment but they remain the


In spite of their grinding run of defeats, Offaly, also relegated last year, have a favourable run of fixtures, with a nice collection of home games against Carlow, Leitrim and Waterford. They have been installed as favourites for the Division 4 title. A win on the road like this would set on the road to promotion.

Leitrim v London (22 March)


Division 4 is never the sexiest of divisions. But there is, if you look close, a bit of intrigue, in this historic old fixture. Between their defeats to London in 1977 and 2013, Leitrim survived countless scares and were taken to extra-time on a couple of occasions.

Hope appears to have been extinguished in Leitrim with their undisputed marquee player Emlyn Mulligan opting to take a year out. This comes on top of some unmerciful beatings in the championship in the past two years.

Still, their early season form in the past two years has been excellent. Two FBD League titles in 2013 and 2014 and they weren't exactly schooled by Galway this year.

It will be interesting to see whether London can rekindle their form of two years ago, when they defeated Leitrim on Irish soil.

Read also: Three reasons why Wicklow will win the All-Ireland

Read also: Three reasons why Longford will win the All-Ireland  

Read also: Three reasons why Leitrim will win the All-Ireland 




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