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GAA Sunday Preview – 02/04/2023

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Selections

It’s finals weekend in the Allianz National Football League on Saturday and Sunday with four games across two days in Croke Park to decide the fate of the eight remaining counties.

Division 1 is an all-Connacht affair as Galway and Mayo bring their age-old rivalry into Headquarters, while they are preceded on Sunday by the Division 2 tussle of Dublin and Derry – the Oak Leaf side facing an acid test of their progress against the Dubs in their own back yard.

On Saturday, Sligo and Wicklow kick things off at the Jones’ Road venue in the Division 4 decider, before Ulster rivals Fermanagh and Cavan square off for Division 3 honours.

Here’s our look ahead to Sunday’s Croke Park double-header. 

Selections

  • Dublin to beat Derry – Division 2 final
  • Mayo to beat Galway – Division 1 final

Derry vs. Dublin, Croke Park. Sunday 2nd April, 1.45pm – Live on TG4

Dubs to show Derry the door

Rory Gallagher and Derry have made smooth progress in the last 12 months and they’ll be satisfied with their lot having secured promotion to Division 1 for next year after six straight wins. 

It would have been seven, bar Cork managing to summon a remarkable eight-point comeback to end Derry’s perfect winning streak with Ian Maguire’s 78th-minute goal snatching a draw in Pairc Ui Chaoimh last weekend. 

Chrissy McKaigue limping off with an ankle injury was perhaps the most notable occurrence on Leeside. With Fermanagh in the Ulster quarter-final a fortnight out, Oak Leaf boss Gallagher won’t want any more such setbacks.

Their league stroll included a spirited come-from-behind success against Dublin in Celtic Park, a see-saw second period ending with a one-point home win in front of a raucous crowd.

Derry folk will travel in numbers for Sunday too in all probability but Dublin in Croke Park is a different test entirely. The Dubs aren’t what they were – that seems almost for sure – but they remain a strong and capable opponent, with that slender loss up on the Foyle their only setback in the league.

Inside the wide open spaces of Croke Park, Dessie Farrell’s side might just be able to pull apart Derry’s blanket defensive set-up and, in doing so, issue their own timely reminder ahead of the championship proper that they are still a force to reckon with.


Mayo vs. Galway, Croke Park. Sunday 2nd April, 4.00pm – Live on TG4

Mayo can lay down final marker

Mayo made stylish progress through Division 1 this season and had already secured top spot prior to last weekend’s defeat to escapologists Monaghan. Plenty of changes on the Mayo team allowed the Farney Army to once more avoid relegation on the final day. 

From Kevin McStay’s comments this week, however, it was clear he really wants to go for Sunday’s clash in Croke Park and he’ll have benefitted plenty from shuffling the pack last weekend.

On the face of it, Galway did well to get out of a tricky home tie against Kerry last weekend and book their final spot. Padraic Joyce’s outfit produced a resilient and resourceful display to earn the full complement of spoils against a misfiring Kingdom. 

Kerry’s shooting let them down – a common theme for them this spring – as illustrated by the fact that they only registered 0-14 from 28 shots at goal.

Mayo, by contrast, have been playing some fine attacking football throughout the league. 

These sides drew in Castlebar in January, a game Galway probably should have won, but it’s Mayo that have impressed more since then and they are taken to lay down a real marker in terms of the upcoming Connacht championship by winning this potential Croke Park cracker against their bitter rivals. 


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