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Calling the shots

NFL DIVISION ONE

DUBLIN v DONEGAL (Saturday, Croke Park, 7.00pm)

There is a sense that Dublin - and new manager Jim Gavin - have to make a statement soon after a lacklustre opening to the league. In recent weeks their cloak of invincibility has been diminished or enhanced, depending on how you see their ability to avoid defeat.

VERDICT: Dublin

GALWAY v TYRONE (Sunday, Tuam Stadium, 2.00pm)

Football in February demands a certain type of expectation and approach. New Galway manager Paraic Joyce has so far opted to play as if it is the middle of the summer. This might catch him out against a vastly-more experienced Tyrone side, though the duel of Ronan McNamee and Shane Walsh will be something to behold.

VERDICT: Tyrone

MONAGHAN v MAYO (Sunday, Clones, 2.00pm)

Monaghan seem to be going that bit better than Mayo so far, and the difference lies in how settled the Farney side are compared to James Horan's men, who are once again coping with a number of injury concerns.

VERDICT: Monaghan

NFL DIVISION TWO

FERMANAGH v CAVAN (Saturday, Brewster Park, 7.00pm)

Cavan seem to have righted their ship after that disastrous opening day defeat by Armagh, though some of that can be put down to their surprise at being caught by the virtually-unknown Conor Turbitt who scored heavily that day.

Fermanagh have a decent home record, but it might not be enough.

VERDICT: Cavan

WESTMEATH v ARMAGH (Sunday, Cusack Park, 2.00pm)

In a wildly inconsistent second tier, we have two of the most inconsistent teams. Armagh, undoubtedly, have the talent and there is a sense that they are about to take a leap to becoming a side that can win the odd game when things are stacked against them. A cautious nod in their direction.

VERDICT: Armagh

NFL DIVISION THREE

DERRY v LOUTH (Sunday, TBC, 2.00pm)

For their opening three games, Derry have not put what they have been working on in training into practice. Here they face the weakest side in the division and it is time to make hay.

VERDICT: Derry

DOWN v LONGFORD (Saturday, Páirc Esler, 7.00pm)

Paddy Tally has been nurturing a brand new Down team over the past 18 months or so, but an awful lot rides on this game. Lose, and they could possible pass up the chance of promotion and be condemned to the ignominy of tier two football. That ought to sharpen minds.

VERDICT: Down

NFL DIVISION FOUR

ANTRIM v CARLOW (Sunday, Glenavy, 2.30pm)

Too many times in recent years, Antrim have been faced with these 'must-win' games that ultimately will determine their season even though we are only in February.

The mood coming out of the camp over the past few weeks has been bouyant while Carlow are going through a bit of a slump after the progress of previous years. Time to make it count.

VERDICT: Antrim

NHL DIVISION 2A

ANTRIM v MEATH (Sunday, Portglenone, 12.30pm)

A MUST-WIN game for Antrim hurlers, part 456. Putting aside their dreadful record in recent years against Meath, the bookmakers have compiled some ridiculous odds with Antrim virtually unbackable. They should manage a win here, but nothing is guaranteed.

VERDICT: Antrim

NHL DIVISION 2B

LONDON v DOWN (Sunday, Ruislip, 2.00pm)

Down's only defeat in three came in a tight encounter with an improving Derry, whereas London have struggled so far in this league.

VERDICT: Down

DERRY v WARWICKSHIRE (Saturday, TBC, 1.00pm)

With two wins from the opening two games, whereas their opponents have lost all three games so far, this is a foregone conclusion.

VERDICT: Derry

NHL DIVISION 3A

TYRONE v LONGFORD (Sunday, Healy Park, 2.00pm)

The margins will be tight in this one as two of the better sides meet, but there is a sense that Longford are performing above expectations.

VERDICT: Tyrone

ARMAGH v LOUTH (Sunday, Athletic Grounds, 2.00pm)

With three losses in their opening three games, Louth will be no match for an undefeated Armagh at home.

VERDICT: Armagh

DONEGAL v MONAGHAN (Sunday, Letterkenny, 2.00pm)

Monaghan have been struggling badly so far this season.

VERDICT: Donegal

NHL DIVISION 3B

LANCASHIRE v FERMANAGH (Saturday, Abbotstown, 3.30pm)

Lancashire look like they will challenge for the league.

VERDICT: Lancashire

Belfast Telegraph