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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Colm Boyle

Colm Boyle column: Tyrone can prevail in relegation four-pointer with Monaghan

It's one of the quirks of the League that, as the penultimate round of matches approach, there is more focus on the bottom of Division One than the top.

Where else would you get it that, as a competition reaches its climax, who the finalists and outright winners might be is almost an irrelevance?

The gap weekend means all teams will have had a heavy two-week training block; such spaces in the calendar need to be taken advantage of in a condensed season.

I wrote a few weeks ago that I felt that the level in Division One this year has been substandard, but that has also contributed to it being very unpredictable.

And no team is more culpable in that regard than Tyrone. After a 10-point drubbing in Castlebar a week earlier, they managed to get themselves together and beat the reigning League and All-Ireland champions at home.

Questions remain over them, however. Did they get a reaction because it was Kerry coming to town? Or was there something more to it than that?

Their trip to Clones for a relegation tussle is, on paper at least, one of the ties of the weekend. The loser of this will be in huge trouble though I fancy Tyrone to prevail. Just.

Armagh and Galway meet in a repeat of last year's epic All-Ireland quarter-final. Galway, without Damien Comer and Shane Walsh for much of the League, have been ticking along nicely and Padraic Joyce will be happy enough overall.

A win here will leave them in a strong position for a League final. Armagh have had a mixed campaign so far; they have beaten the two likely relegation candidates in Monaghan and Donegal and came back at the death to snatch a draw against Mayo.

In the last couple of games, they seem to have adopted a more defensive approach and I’m not sure that it suits them. This will probably be a tight affair with a share of the spoils a likely outcome.

Kerry will have been working as hard as any team in the last couple of weeks to make up lost ground. Their home form has been the source of their only wins against Monaghan and Armagh.

Tonight’s game against Roscommon in Tralee is simply a must-win for them. Roscommon, after a great start, now have back-to-back defeats and another loss here would leave them going into the last game against Donegal with the possibility of relegation hanging over them. Kerry should have too much here.

Mayo make the trip to Ballybofey in what is a do-or-die game for the home team. The noise around Donegal at the minute isn’t good and Jim McGuinness’s comments this week won’t have done anything to improve the mood locally.

Sometimes a team can lift itself in the face of adversity and that’s exactly what Paddy Carr will be hoping for. But they also need to bring something different to this game.

They must take more risks on the ball as they are far too predictable and easy to play against.

But I feel Mayo, despite having a poor record in Donegal, will continue their good form and get the win that all but guarantees a League final.

Kildare to ease Tailteann Cup fears

The race for promotion from Division Two is effectively done and dusted as, barring a miracle, Derry and Dublin will face off in the final in two weeks’ time.

The real focus here is on who can avoid the dreaded drop to Division Three. With the new Championship structure, relegation from the second division is a far greater setback than ever before.

At the start of the season it would have been unthinkable to talk about Kildare in a relegation battle but it is very much a reality for Glenn Ryan.

He is under huge pressure and, ironically, is coming up against a Limerick team that have just parted ways with their manager. Ryan certainly will be hoping that they don’t get the new manager bounce that you so often see in soccer.

Limerick themselves are under pressure but I fancy Kildare to just have enough to win this one.

Clare are right in the mix for relegation too and defeat to Derry could be a fatal blow. Derry’s attentions may already be turning to the Championship which gives the Banner men some hope but it’s very hard to see anything other than a home win.

Meath are another team still in danger. They welcome Dublin to Navan in what used to be one of the biggest rivalries in the GAA. But, the truth is, since they stitched five goals past Dublin in the 2010 Leinster semi-final this fixture has been a non-event. I think Dublin will come through comfortably.

Cork and Louth can both be happy with their campaigns so far but the unfortunate news of an injury to Sam Mulroy could be a turning point in Louth’s season.

Cork certainly look like they are improving, and I think they will maintain their winning ways.

Playing Liam Kearns' teams left me in no doubt as to his ability as a manager

The late Liam Kearns (©INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy)

I was saddened when I heard of the sudden passing of Offaly manager Liam Kearns.

While I didn’t know Liam personally, it was a huge shock to the GAA community.

A couple of things struck me about the comments from players that have played under him: straight talker, you knew where you stood with him; that he was a brilliant man-manager was mentioned regularly among his strengths.

He also had the ability to get the best out of the teams he managed and no team epitomised that more than the Tipperary team that got to an All-Ireland semi-final against us.

It was a truly remarkable achievement. We met again in the qualifiers in Thurles two years later in a game that is forgotten about. His Tipp team led all the way through the game until a fortunate James Durcan goal for us with 10 minutes to go put us in front and we saw it out from there.

He is a huge loss to the GAA world. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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