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We Predict The Outcome Of Every National Football League Division

We Predict The Outcome Of Every National Football League Division
By Balls Team Updated
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Ahead of the start of the Allianz National Football League we attempt to select the winners and losers from each division. Who'll get promoted and who'll get relegated. Those who land in mid-table will be ascertained by a process of elimination.

DIVISION 1

Winners

Dublin

They haven't released any "I can't believe we've won five in a row" T-shirts yet. Their preparation for the League is a touch different this year as the 2016 squad have spent most of the past month in Jamaica.

They came back to see the 'third string' side win the O'Byrne Cup.

Still, we expect them to be there in the final in Croke Park in early April, picking up another NFL title. We try to picture a League Final in Croker without Jim Gavin on the line and it won't quite come for us.

Relegated 

Roscommon

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The Rossies' recent insistence on going flat-out in February and March hasn't done them any good in the summer-time. It might be time for them to change tack and try and peak for the Connacht championship instead.

As far as Division 1 goes, this is their difficult second album.

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Donegal

A big risk. But we have a hunch that Cavan will be the Roscommon of 2017. Intoxicated by their surroundings, Cavan will take the League far more seriously than any of their rivals. We anticipate a respectable mid-table finish.

The Donegal seniors did not compete in the McKenna Cup, leaving that to Declan Bonner's U21 team. They've lost important players over the winter and should be heading for a transitional period.

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Also, even in the Jim McGuinness era, they were disinclined to take the League seriously.

Both Cavan and Donegal host Dublin and Kerry, meaning they're in grave danger of losing two home matches. Crucially, Cavan host Donegal in Breffni Park in Round 4.

DIVISION 2

Promoted

Galway

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Relegated from Division 1 in 2011, they've remained static in the second tier in the years since, occasionally flirting with relegation, and lately pushing hard for promotion.

Under Kevin Walsh, the colour is returning to their cheeks. The delight at regaining the Connacht championship last year was soured by the display in Croke Park. In January, a Galway team boasting a couple of young newcomers won the FBD League.

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Of the Division 2 sides, they look to be in the rudest health. Danny Cummins told the Irish Indepenedent the other day that the time for excuses is over.

Cork

"Everyone is pissed off at what Cork GAA has become," said Paddy Kelly in an interview with the Irish Examiner earlier this year.

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They also have four away games, playing Kildare, Derry and Galway away from home. So, it will be a testing and dicey spring in the second tier.

Ultimately, we fancy them to win their place back in Division 1 on the grounds of latent pedigree and the fact that all other Division 2 sides have their problems.

Relegated

Clare

The Division 3 champs are favourites to go down though we think they'll give survival a better shake than Down. They drew the short straw and have only three home games. Testing trips to Pearse Stadium, Newbridge and Brewster Park await. It's tough to envisage them getting results out of those games.

Down

Successive relegations are common as muck in the NFL and Down are well placed to follow in the footsteps of Westmeath and others.

The stats from last year indicate that Down 2016 model may well have been the worst team ever to participate in Division 1 of the national league.

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Prior to the last match against Mayo, where they racked up a spirited tally of 1-16 in a three point defeat, they scored an average of 7.8 points across the first six games.

 

DIVISION 3

Promoted

Tipperary

The obvious logical choice for promotion. The 2016 championship proved beyond doubt they belong in a higher division. Whether they progress will depend upon their attitude to the League. They didn't raise much of a gallop with an under-strength side in the McGrath Cup. The relevance of that is highly questionable.

Finished just one spot above relegation in 2016 but Division 3 was a very congested affair. They were only one point shy of promotion.

Laois

Division 3 is being billed as a three horse race involving Tipp, Armagh and Laois. It's difficult to pick a winner between Laois and Armagh.

The former have a new manager in Peter Creedon while Armagh don't appear to be making any progress yet under McGeeney. Hard to have faith in the northerners.

Add in the fact that Laois beat Armagh (twice) in last year's championship.

Relegated

Louth

Division 3 is the most democratic and unpredictable of the competitions. There are a group of teams including Louth, Sligo, Longford and Offaly who remain terribly hard to separate.

Under Pat Flanagan, Offaly won their first Leinster championship match in nine years against Longford last June. They exited respectably at the hands of Kildare in the qualifiers and appear to be on a modest upward curve. Longford knocked the reigning champions out of last year's championship and their county champions Mullinalaghta gave St. Vincent's their stiffest test in Leinster. Both are too strong to go down.

That leaves Sligo and Louth. The former shipped a remarkably big score in the 2nd half of last year's Connacht match against the Rossies.

Louth scraped out of Division 4 last year (before eventually winning the Div. 4 final) and we're tentatively tipping them for a return this year.

Antrim

Clear and understandable favourites for the drop. They spent three years unable to break out of the bottom division. Their opening game is away to Tipperary and is unlikely to provide them with any momentum.

They were beaten by St. Mary's in the McKenna Cup last month.

DIVISION 4

Promoted

Westmeath

The good news for Westmeath is that it's not possible for them to relegated again. Reaching a Leinster Final is not the lofty achievement it once was.

But it still should be beyond the reach of Division 4 sides. Westmeath are surely operating below their station down in the fourth tier.

Wexford

A toss of a coin between Limerick and Wexford. None of the other contenders - Carlow, Wicklow, Leitrim, Waterford, London - excite us overly much.

On the basis that Wexford enjoy home advantage against Limerick on week 1, we give them the nod.

Read more: Mischief-Makers: A Tribute To The Finest Rogues In The GAA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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