Joe Kernan: It’s looking good for most Ulster sides as league reaches climax
The Ulster spirit is alive and well. And it is already proving something of a belated antidote to the marked apprehension that invariably accompanies the concluding stages of the National Football League.
Tyrone were regarded as down and out prior to their last-gasp win over Kerry last Saturday, doubts were being expressed about Antrim’s staying power before their clinical win over Louth and Cavan were allegedly on their knees until they stunned Division Three joint pacesetters Offaly.
And with Armagh and Donegal ready to go head-to-head for the second Division One promotion spot on Sunday week, negativity has been put on the back burner — and thank goodness for that.
Yet we must face reality. Derry look to be in grave danger of bidding farewell to their Division One status and Fermanagh have already made the drop into Division Four.
When you consider that Derry have reached the last two National League finals and that Fermanagh were in the Ulster final less than two years ago this underlines the decline in the fortunes of these two sides.
There is still the fear that Tyrone or Monaghan as well as Derry will make the drop into Division Two and that would take some of the gloss from the all-Ulster promotion charge from this same division.
Down have assured themselves of top-flight football next year and will be joined by either Armagh or Donegal.
When these two sides meet on Sunday week, the match will have a championship edge to it.
Meanwhile, Antrim are ensconced in Division Two following their flamboyant voyage through Division Three.
The Saffrons go to Wexford on Sunday week but with their St Gall’s contingent back after All Ireland club glory they are unlikely to be fazed by the task.