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Calling the shots


DERRY v FERMANAGH (Today, Celtic Park, 2.00pm)

This game may just be a watershed for this competition.

Rebranded from Under-21s to Under-20s, shifted in the schedule into a place that is already full to the throat with underage colleges and schools games and then finally labelled as a 'Development' tournament, it has become clear that this serves no purpose in player development, nor acts as a pathway.

This weekend Derry will be without players from the St Patrick's Maghera and St Mary's Magherafelt MacRory Cup teams, and are unsure how many of their senior panel will be available, with latest reports setting that at one.

By way of contrast, Fermanagh have a strong side, bolstered by the shock defeat of MacRory and Hogan Cup champions St Michael's Enniskillen to Holy Trinity last weekend, and the willingness of senior manager Ryan McMenamin to release all available players to manager Ollie Fay.

Derry manager Mickey Donnelly has brought the Oak Leafers to the last two Ulster finals, winning this in 2018, but he has two hands tied behind his back here. Fermanagh are 11/4 to win this but will beat the odds.

VERDICT: Fermanagh


TYRONE v KERRY (Tomorrow, Healy Park, 2.00pm)

Forget about team sheets and who is named to start where, it is imperative that Tyrone manager Mickey Harte starts Cathal McShane after all the fuss of the last two weeks.

The distraction will hardly bother the player himself, and with the advanced mark now a reality, he could make hay here against Tadgh Morley. But Kerry are going too well to be denied.


DUBLIN v MONAGHAN (Tonight, Croke Park, 7.00pm)

Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney has handed over the tactical running of the team to his coaches and last week it worked a treat as the Tyrone backroom men Peter Donnelly and John Devine were able to pick apart the Red Hands game.

This is different, though.


DONEGAL v GALWAY (Tomorrow, Letterkenny, 2.00pm)

With Galway opening up a bit and Donegal also playing a fairly aggressive game, this could be a decent spectacle.

Donegal have an awful record in the Letterkenny venue, though really it doesn't mean anything when the game is on.

VERDICT: Donegal


WESTMEATH v FERMANAGH (Tomorrow, Cusack Park, 2.00pm)

Westmeath managed to pick up points at home on the opening day of the league, but are coming up against a side that have steadily gotten better in their opening two games.

VERDICT: Fermanagh

ARMAGH v KILDARE (Tonight, Athletic Grounds, 7.0)

TWO sides that have puzzled in the opening two games. Armagh's win over Cavan was followed by a malfunction against Laois, while Kildare were lucky to recover their composure for the final stretch against Fermanagh, before losing by a point to Clare.

With two high profile managers in Kieran McGeeney and Jack O'Connor nursing the sting of defeat last week, this will be hectic stuff and a few cards could be, well, on the cards.

Armagh's home advantage could be the tipping point.


LAOIS v CAVAN (Tomorrow, O'Moore Pk, 2.00pm)

WHAT to make of Cavan? After a raft of player defections over the winter, they were dreadful in their opening day tanking by Armagh, and recovered to beat Westmeath last weekend.

Laois themselves opened with a draw against Westmeath, before dismantling Armagh in a ruthless first half performance last week at this same venue.

Formlines are all over the place in this league.



DERRY v TIPPERARY (Tomorrow, Celtic Park, 1.00pm)

This is it, it would appear, for Derry manager Rory Gallagher and their hopes of getting promotion.

Nothing less than a win will do here and with such sharpened focus, the Oak Leafers could manage it.


CORK v DOWN (Tomorrow, Pairc Uí Chaoimh, 2.0)

All on the line for Down here after they drew their first game with Tipperary before turning Derry over in impressive circumstances last weekend despite having a man in the sinbin.

A win away from home in Cork would do their confidence no end of good.

But Cork have opened up well and blew Louth and Leitrim away in the first two games.

This will be tighter, but they will prevail.



LONDON v ANTRIM (Tomorrow, Ruislip, 2.00pm)

After their decent win over Wexford on the first day, Antrim slipped to a one point defeat to Sligo last weekend away from home.

They need to win this well to keep their promotion hopes alive and, given London's traditional slow starts to the league, they should manage it.


Belfast Telegraph