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Calling the shots


OFFALY v ANTRIM (Sunday, Tullamore, 2.00pm)

Under new manager Michael Fennelly, Offaly are already in some trouble in this division, having lost their last game to Kerry and having just about scraped past Meath in their opening fixture.

They have more to lose against Antrim this time, and generally when these two meet, Offaly have a happy habit of coming out on the right side of a narrow margin.



DERRY v KILDARE (Sunday, Celtic Park, 2.00pm)

The 'O' has to go as these two table-toppers meet tomorrow looking to preserve their impeccable records.

Derry have been getting out in front in their first two matches against Down and London, but have a slightly worrying trend to leak scores late on and just about escape.

Kildare simply blew Warwickshire away in the last round, restricting them to a single point, and hammered London.

VERDICT: Kildare

DOWN v WARWICKSHIRE (Saturday, Ballycran, 12.30pm)

Snow and storms did not stop the Down hurlers getting their training in this week, and they will be rewarded with two league points later today.



MONAGHAN v TYRONE (Sunday, Castleblayney, 2.00pm)

Tyrone's form is a little inconsistent, with an opening-day win over Louth followed by a poor defeat to Donegal. The only consolation is that Monaghan are going even worse.


LONGFORD v ARMAGH (Sunday, Pearse Park, 2.00pm)

Opening wins over Ulster rivals Donegal and Monaghan have Armagh sitting pretty.


LOUTH v DONEGAL (Sunday, Darver, 2.00pm)

Louth look to be the poorest side in this division and as a result, Donegal should boost their confidence.

VERDICT: Donegal


FERMANAGH v SLIGO (Sunday, Brewster Park, 2.00pm)

Joe Baldwin's men were hit with a blow this week as midfielder Ryan Bogue emigrated to Australia.

They had started on a positive note, but now find themselves unsure after defeat to Cavan. The influx of new talent in Tom Keenan and Luca McCusker will endure a few days like that as they continue to find their feet.

VERDICT: Fermanagh

LEITRIM v CAVAN (Saturday, Ballinamore, 2.00pm)

The formlines are sketchy for this. Leitrim lost their opening day game against neighbours Fermanagh, who in turn were beaten by Cavan.

At times, you would be forgiven for thinking there are no reason for any results at this level.

VERDICT: Leitrim


ARMAGH v TYRONE (Saturday, Athletic Grounds, 2.00pm)

In any underage county competition, Tyrone are often held up as the standard bearers due to the sheer numbers of players and the standards they hold themselves up to.

Here, though, the optimism can be justified. They have a strong team, most of whom were part of the Under-17 All-Ireland winning squad, although they are bolstered by a few late developers.

Armagh have talent in their ranks, too, but the noises coming out of the Tyrone camp suggest they can take this one.


CAVAN v DOWN (Saturday, Kingspan Breffni, 2.00pm)

It feels a very long time ago since Cavan were dominating the pre-cursor to this competition, the Ulster Under-21 Championship, with four in a row.

That success was not converted into senior success as yet, and so many have fallen out of playing inter-county football, which shows the lottery that football at this level can be.


ANTRIM v DERRY (Saturday, Dunsilly, 2.00pm)

Perhaps there was an element of fortune to Derry's win over Fermanagh last weekend as they pushed the game into extra time, but the Erne players had only themselves to blame as they ran out of scoring threat the longer the game went on.

The introduction of Alex Doherty was the critical factor, and they should go on to make it to the semi-finals.


DONEGAL v MONAGHAN (Saturday, Ballybofey, 2.00pm)

Monaghan are well stocked at this level with talent that has made its way into the senior team, such as the speedy Aaron Mulligan, while Donegal are short through injuries.

VERDICT: Monaghan


LAOIS v CAVAN (Sunday, Portlaoise, 1.00pm)

This game fell victim to Storm Ciara last weekend and perhaps both teams were glad to see it, with early stuttering form in their league campaigns.

Laois produced an impressive win over Armagh the last time out and, on the present formlines, should be a sure thing here.


Belfast Telegraph