• Home
  • /
  • GAA
  • /
  • The Winners And Losers From The 2019 National Football League

The Winners And Losers From The 2019 National Football League

The Winners And Losers From The 2019 National Football League
By Aaron Strain
Share this article

Next Saturday's Division Three decider aside, the curtain came down on this year's National Football League at Croke Park yesterday evening after a triumvirate of pulsating encounters over finals weekend.

Damian McErlain and Derry clinched the Division Four title Saturday as their rebuilding process looks to be very much underway, while on the same night a Michael Murphy second-half masterclass inspired Donegal to Division Two glory at the expense of Meath.

The best, however, was saved to last.

Mayo collected their first Division One title in 18 years after a second-half goal blitz saw the westerners overturn Kerry, despite a four-point deficit at the break in a win that sent many a chin-a-wagging that 2019 may just be the year James Horan's side fling the All-Ireland monkey from the back.

And whilst only four sides can move into April clutching silverware, not all winners have to be champions. And where there are certainly 'winners' from this latest edition of early-year entertainment, a fair few sides didn't quite have pre-Championship preparations go to plan.

Let's take a look at five from each camp...




Perhaps, an obvious place to start, but one can't help but sit up and be impressed by the nature of James Horan side's march to the Division One title.

All-too-often, Mayo have baulked on the big occasions, at the big opportunities. And whilst celebrations yesterday were subdued enough to signify the fact that they haven't yet got what they truly yearn, the manner of their furrows during this league campaign has to be noted.

An against the odds comeback over the Kingdom yesterday, cherry-topped what was a galvanising final stretch, after losses against arch-rivals Galway and old adversaries Dublin threatened to derail their momentum. And whilst some may detract from their win over an out-of-sorts Kerry at Austin Stack Park a few weeks back, they went toe-to-toe at with a full mast Peter Keane side yesterday and rallied to victory. It bodes well.



The fruits of a four-year dominance at Minor level look to have ripened under Peter Keane who has asserted a real balance in his squad.

The usual scattering of any amount of bedazzling forwards has been complemented by a much-welcomed steeliness at the back during their round-robin head-to-heads, granted the final half hour of their 2019 campaign saw some old defensive demons resurface.


But the Kingdom faithful has every right to feel they are right in the mix for September honours, particularly with the likes of Seanie O'Shea and David Clifford becoming increasingly prevalent at the business end of the field.


Andy McEntee's men came unstuck against a unit much more akin to recent success on Saturday night, but that will do little to dampen the much-needed injection of enthusiasm into the Royal County on the back of a return to Division One.


It's a return thirteen years in the making and underscored by the fact that Donegal were the only side to have their number in what was an otherwise attritional Division Two this year.

Realistically, they are still a long way off challenging for trophies and their near-neighbours and fierce rivals should by all accounts swot any provincial threats with relative ease, but the focus should be firmly on getting to the Super 8s. The world needs to see more of Mickey Newman in beast mode.



The Cinderella story of the year so far, Terry Hyland's side captured the hearts of the country as they made a welcomed return Croke Park for the first time in a generation at the weekend.

Anecdotes of the pilgrimage to headquarters for the county's 32,000 inhabitants should live long in the memory and despite the slightest hint of being over-awed by the big stage lights against Derry on Saturday, a fully deserved spot in the third-tier has been attained. The challenge will very much be to maintain the momentum next year.




By the finest of fine margins perhaps, but the Lake County are back into Division Two after securing the draw they needed against Louth in Drogheda on Saturday afternoon.

Jack Cooney's side used the launch pad of their O'Byrne Cup success to great effect and only had a single blot on their league copybook in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Down in Newry.

Much like Leitrim, the next challenge will be to maintain momentum into a Championship summer. Much will be dictated by the meetings with midlands rivals Laois in next weekend's Division Three decider before encountering the same foe in the Leinster quarter-finals in May.




Whilst being very much in danger of over-egging some sort of faux crisis that really isn't there, things have looked a lot less assured in the capital this winter than what they have in a while.

Monaghan peppered them aerially on the opening weekend, exposing their now infamous Achilles heel at the back, but it could well be the defeat to Kerry and in particular the home loss to Tyrone that could strike the real psychological blow, if indeed ones have been struck.

League wise, yes it's been a definitive loss, but only a fool would fail to acknowledge where Dublin's real focus is in 'drive-for-five' year.


It's been a tumultuous couple of months for the Rebels whose inability to find consistency sees them demoted to Division Three next year.

The real damage was arguably done early in the campaign, registering only 1-05 and failing to come away from Enniskillen in Round One was followed by a disappointing home defeat to 14-man Kildare next time out.

Whilst rock bottom certainly came with the nine-point humbling they received from Clare, it was the seven they were in arrears to Donegal that probably gives a true reflection of where the 2010 All-Ireland winners are in terms of being anywhere near a top table conversation.


The fine margins between winning and losing are clear for all to see when analysing the Mourne men's league crusade. The cruel fact of the matter is that had they found an equaliser in the dying seconds to draw level with Louth last weekend, they could well have found themselves on the 'winners' list here.

Despite a run of five wins in a row, Down remain in Division Three for another year. It'll be a bitter pill to swallow for Paddy Tally and his side, particularly that they'd have been home in a boat had their campaign not been bookended by terrible home performances against Laois and the aforementioned Louth.

The financial implications of not bouncing straight back to Division Two at the first time of asking are also a huge factor to consider for a county who still see themselves as one of the bigger players.


It will have been very disappointing for Turlough O'Brien and all involved in Carlow to slip back into Division Four, particularly after such a breakthrough year for the county last year.

Where the importance of maintaining momentum for the likes of Leitrim and Westmeath into a Championship indeed ring true, Carlow face the unenviable task of trying to pick themselves off the ground in the Leinster championship. Easier said than done with Meath looking their likely opponents in a quarter-final, and you would have to worry that an early exit would this year would undo much of the good work that went before.


With seven losses from seven games, the Yeats County were the only side not to register so much as a point across all four divisions this year.

The truth of the matter is they were severely found out, for the most part, this year. Particularly concerning defeats came away to Louth and at home to Westmeath and whilst some may argue Paul Taylor's men were a tad unlucky when putting it up to Offaly in the final round of fixtures last week, and too when conceding a last gasp goal against Down earlier in the campaign, Galway is on the horizon in the Championship. It's looking bleak.

SEE ALSO: 'I Was Listening To The Match On My Headphones In The Dressing Room. I Had Two Big Things Today'

Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now!

Share this article

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com