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Red Hands determined to preserve place in top-flight

 

By Declan Bogue

Round Six of the Allianz Football League is this weekend with two plum Ulster derbies.

Before we come to that, there is a tasty relegation battle in Castlebar between Mayo and Tyrone tomorrow. Both are on four points with two games left and seeking to reach the magical figure of six points that would secure survival in the top-flight.

The Red Hands lost Darren McCurry from the panel in midweek, but the Edendork attacker had fallen behind Mark Bradley, Connor McAliskey and Lee Brennan in the pecking order.

Donegal are seeking only their second win when they face Monaghan in Clones. Declan Bonner's men were robbed of the prolific Patrick McBrearty through injury for the defeat to Tyrone, and without the highest-scoring player in Division One, they were toothless.

With Jason McGee dropping down to the U20s and Michael Carroll having departed the panel, there is a sense they are into managing a situation rather than a team at this point.

Monaghan have three wins over Kildare, Kerry and Tyrone, bringing them almost guaranteed survival and the chance to experiment ahead of the Championship.

They fell in their last game against Galway but are strong favourites for this clash.

In Division Two, Down are another side contending with players leaving the panel, after it emerged Darren O'Hagan and Keith Quinn are no longer in Eamonn Burns' squad.

Burns will not be on the touchline for the game as his suspension for pushing a Cavan player last weekend begins.

Tipperary are making the trip to Newry in fine form. They are undefeated in their last three games and had a handsome win over Louth in the last round.

Top of the table Cavan go to Roscommon, who lie second.

In Division Three, the undoubted game of the weekend is between Fermanagh and Armagh. Rory Gallagher's men went down to their first defeat last weekend to Westmeath.

If Armagh lose, there is a chance that these teams could meet three times in four games, with a potential final to play ahead of their Ulster Championship quarter-final showdown.

They are entering this game with depleted numbers, with Paul Hughes and Joe McElroy joining the injury list.

A win over Wexford would go a long way towards lifting Derry out of the relegation mire in the other Division Three game. They are currently on two points.

There will be few places as tense as Ahoghill tomorrow when Antrim put their season on the line against fellow promotion-chasers Carlow.

Three points behind the visitors, this is Antrim's season boiled down to one single game.

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