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Kerry are eager to be top of the bunch in Division One, while Mickey Harte eyes Division Three silverware with Louth

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Donegal ace David Clifford. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Donegal ace David Clifford. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Louth boss Mickey Harte. Credit: INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy

Louth boss Mickey Harte. Credit: INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy

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Donegal ace David Clifford. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

In some ways, it is fitting that Mayo and Kerry are in the first Division One National Football League final since the pandemic hit.

It was these two teams that contested the last decider back in March 2019, when Mayo greeted the first national title in many years and took many aback with how they celebrated their four-point win over the Kingdom.

Since then, the 2020 title was awarded to Kerry after they thumped Donegal in the last game of the league, played in October after the Covid lockdowns. David Clifford had a wry smile when he lifted the trophy.

Last year, there was no league final as Kerry had a Championship opener against Cork just a fortnight after the last round of the league.

When the two met in round four of the league this season, Kerry edged a tight game 1-12 to 0-14. They will be fancied to repeat the trick here with their Munster semi-final against Cork away off in the distance on May 7.

In Division Two, the two teams that caused Derry to drop points will see out the decider. Galway beat Rory Gallagher’s men in an impressive and aggressive performance in Owenbeg, the week after Roscommon rode their luck in squeezing out a draw against the Oak Leafers.

The Connacht men face off in the decider. Galway have been the most impressive side in this league and have found their mojo again, which deserted them after the lockdown under Paraic Joyce.

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But with Mayo looming on April 24, how much they are willing to put into this performance remains to be seen.

The Division Three final will command a few eyeballs around Tyrone. In charge of Louth for the last two years, Mickey Harte, with his assistant Gavin Devlin, have presided over two successive promotions.

In his very first game they lost to Harte’s neighbour and Antrim manager Enda McGinley, and no league final was played.

This year, even allowing for the crazy sequence of results in the third tier, Louth lost their opener again against Laois, but have been unbeaten since.

They face Limerick, another side on the up as they have secured two promotions in three years under the management of Billy Lee. The league meeting between the two came in round three — Louth’s first win of the campaign, 1-14 to 1-12.

Logic says that the result matters little, but Harte had a policy of not playing any challenge matches in his 18 seasons with Tyrone — he played just one, against Carlow — and he has transplanted that approach to Louth.

Games are precious, and he will look for another win before they face Carlow on April 24.

In Division Four, Cavan meet Tipperary in the final.

The two won their respective provinces in 2020 on an incredible Sunday and will struggle to believe that they are in this position.

Cavan will have one eye on their Ulster Championship opener against Antrim on April 23 — which was for a brief bizarre period moved out of Corrigan Park before being reinstated. They will seek to have a good lead-in to that game with a victory here. 


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