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It's time to stop making sense of Division 2 chaos

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John O’Loughlin in action against Stephen Sheridan during Laois’s victory over Armagh on Saturday

John O’Loughlin in action against Stephen Sheridan during Laois’s victory over Armagh on Saturday

SPORTSFILE

John O’Loughlin in action against Stephen Sheridan during Laois’s victory over Armagh on Saturday

Before a ball had been kicked, there were lots of strongly-held convictions - and confident predictions - about Division 2 of the Allianz Football League.

Just two rounds later, we're in a very different place and the future is impossible to fathom.

Trying to make sense of Division 2 would test the wisdom of Solomon and the gambling wits of Barney Curley.

Even the bould Barney wouldn't have spied profit in last weekend's 80/1 accumulator backing home wins for Laois (11/4) against Armagh, Cavan (evens) against Westmeath, Clare (11/4) against Kildare and Fermanagh (15/8) against Roscommon.

The above combination, unexpected as it was, has underlined the following:

  • Never under-estimate the value of home advantage in league combat.
  • The preconception that promotion was a three-way battle between Kildare, Armagh and Roscommon now looks wilfully presumptuous - especially when you consider that the Rossies are currently rock-bottom.
  • Ditto with the firmly-held belief, even by some partisan Portlaoisians, that Laois were favourites for doomsday demotion. Guess who's sitting pretty at the top right now?

There is, we suspect, another fundamental factor behind this roller coaster necklace of results.

And it's this: the two teams relegated from Division 2 face the double-whammy of demotion to the new second-tier football championship, presuming they don't embark on a redemptive run to their provincial final.

The flip side is that those promoted from Division 3 will be guaranteed their place in the qualifiers, however theoretical their prospects of Sam.

As a consequence, every single point in the two middle divisions is being fought over more ferociously than ever this spring.

So the eight games played in Division 2 so far have produced one deadlock (Roscommon/Laois), three one-point wins, two hard-fought four-point victories, and just two relatively emphatic results, both involving Armagh: a 13-point rout of Cavan followed by a shock six-point loss away to Laois.

All of this has left us with a very congested table: Laois lead the way with three points, injury-depleted Roscommon are down in eighth with a solitary point, while six teams are stuck in an expanded mid-table with two points apiece.

Maybe the fog will lift after this weekend's games (Armagh v Kildare on Saturday, Westmeath v Fermanagh, Laois v Cavan and Roscommon v Clare on Sunday) or maybe not.

Hard to disagree with the words of Kildare boss Jack O'Connor after last Sunday's agony in Ennis: "Nobody is going to run away with this division," said the wise Kerry owl, "and that's for sure."