Royals primed to prune Lilies
MEATH v KILDARE
(Pc Tailteann, Tonight 7.0, live Setanta Sports 1)
A MASSIVE match for both these deadly rivals, and for very different reasons.
Meath badly need to banish their recent winless streak against Kildare -- they've lost three championship meetings and one league encounter in the last 19 months -- if for no other reason than restoring some belief ahead of a potential Leinster semi-final next summer.
For Kildare, though, the victory requirement is even more pressing. A third consecutive loss would kill off any faint prospect of reviving their promotion aspirations.
Kieran McGeeney has held back on naming a team; Rob Kelly (ankle) is definitely out while it remains to be seen whether any of his U21 contingent will be risked.
No white smoke on the Meath team either, although Graham Reilly, Kevin Reilly and Joe Sheridan were flagged as doubts earlier in the week. The Royals are unlikely table-toppers but this will prove a far more accurate barometer than their facile cakewalk against Westmeath last day out.
ODDS: Meath 11/10, Draw 7/1, Kildare evens
DERRY v MONAGHAN
(Celtic Park, Tonight 7.0)
NOW here's a dastardly choice if ever there was. Derry's February form was disastrous. They are desperate to win, but desperation brings no guarantees. Monaghan, meanwhile, bucked expectations with their 'battling' win over Kildare -- but at a cost of home advantage for their game with Louth, and appealing that CHC decision seems to have preoccupied their thoughts this week.
ODDS: Derry 10/11, Draw 7/1, Monaghan 6/5
WESTMEATH v GALWAY
(Mullingar, Tomorrow 2.30)
A STORY doing the rounds yesterday, suggesting Westmeath boss Pat Flanagan was "reeling from severe internet criticism" coming from several county players, reads more like a non-story on closer inspection. But Flanagan is reeling from bad results and even worse performances -- the Meath calamity confirmed they aren't a Division 2 team. The great hope, John Heslin, is back from Oz and Garrycastle are in an All-Ireland final, so it's not all bad news for Westmeath football. Just as well.
ODDS: Westmeath 4/1, Draw 11/1, Galway 2/9
LOUTH v TYRONE
(Drogheda, Tomorrow 2.30)
THE visitors are rightly favourites but this could be close, considering some of the marquee names who don't start for Tyrone (Seán Cavanagh and Stephen O'Neill among them) and also because Louth have belied their status as likely relegation candidates by claiming three points from four.
ODDS: Louth 16/5, Draw 9/1, Tyrone 3/10