There is plenty at stake when Monaghan host Derry in a Division One Ulster derby on Sunday afternoon. A second successive win for Malachy O’Rourke’s side would leave them in with an excellent chance of making the semi-finals, while defeat for Derry would all but condemn Brian McIver’s side to the drop.
Derry’s Division One struggles continued last weekend when they lost to Mayo (2-12 to 1-13) and last year’s Division One runners-up are now facing the genuine prospect of relegation.
They go into the game without their Slaughtneil players who are preparing for the All-Ireland club final next Tuesday against Corofin. McIver has made two changes for the trip to Clones with Thomas Mallon and Emmett McGuckin coming in for Eoin McNicholl and Aidan McAlynn.
“We haven’t had the breaks in any of our games. You might say that it’s up to the players to make their own breaks,” said McIver.
“There is some truth in that but, generally speaking, over the course of the games we have played to date, we haven’t got the breaks which are crucial.”
Tyrone, meanwhile, are without injured pair Barry Tierney and Cathal McCarron for their meeting with Cork in Omagh.
Mickey Harte has made three changes in total, bringing Dwayne Quinn and Ryan McKenna in for McCarron and Tierney respectively, while Connor McAliskey replaces Cathal McShane in the inside forward line.
In Division Two, Down travel to face Westmeath while Cavan are also on the road in Galway.
Down are leading the way in Division Two and a win on Sunday would almost guarantee a return to the top tier.
“Just because we’re sitting at the top of the table now we’re not going in thinking we have a divine right to win,” said forward Mark Poland.
“All the games are tight and we scraped through a couple if we’re being brutally honest. It’s a very tight division.”
Gerard Collins will make his senior debut in the game with manager Jim McCorry also bringing in Conor Maginn, Ryan Mallon and Arthur McConville.
In Division Three, unbeaten Armagh have made no changes ahead of the trip to play Clare. A win on Sunday will all but secure Armagh’s return to Division II, which would have been manager Kieran McGeeney’s minimum expectation ahead of the competition.
Fellow Ulster side Fermanagh are also unbeaten this term and sit joint top of Division Three alongside Armagh with seven points from four games. Pete McGrath’s charges welcome Limerick to Brewster Park with the manager warning against complacency.
“But we’ll take nothing for granted. Only and unless promotion is mathematically guaranteed, it is only then we can say we’re there. We still have a bit of a journey to go, but we’re very happy with what we’ve done so far,” he said.
In Division Four, Antrim travel to play Waterford knowing that a win could get them back into the promotion hunt.
Martin Kane and Benny Hasson are back in place of Connor Burke (suspended) and Tomas McCann. Frank Fitzsimons’ charges will be looking to build on their 1-12 to 1-8 win over London in Toome.
Allianz FL Division 1
Kerry v Donegal, Tyrone v Cork, Monaghan v Derry
Allianz FL Division 2
Galway v Cavan, Westmeath v Down
Allianz FL Division 3
Fermanagh v Limerick, Clare v Armagh
Allianz FL Division 4
Waterford v Antrim