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Diarmuid Connolly: Mayo A Good Price To Win League Again

The National League returns this weekend and BoyleSports Ambassador Diarmuid Connolly is here to preview the action.

Back-to-Back in Mayo?

It’s a very tasty one to start the league, but Galway and Mayo can always produce a tentative game and this time of year the pitches are very heavy. So it could be a real low scoring affair.

Mayo got the measure of them in the big game in the championship and they also won the league last year. I think they’re a good price to win it again.

I think they’ll have a fitter squad than Galway and that will be a factor, especially the first few games in the league. You’ll always see that the fitter teams start well, like Roscommon last year. They hit the ground running, got three wins under their belt and it sets you up to compete for the league.

They didn’t get too far into the Championship, but I think they were on a bit of a rebuild last year and they’re reigning league champions – usually they go after the league very strongly.

*Mayo are 8/1 to win National League Division One per the latest Gaelic Football odds at BoyleSports.

Kingdom Need Statement

Mayo won the league last year, but we saw what happened on the flip side in the championship. However I always like my team to go out and win every game. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but Kerry fans would like to see them go and really put Derry to the sword. They’re at home and they have to give the fans what they want. They need a good start to the league.

The big question mark for me though is that they over-rely on David Clifford and Sean O’Shea to get their scores. They were the two highest scorers in the league for them last year, but they need to get that forward line really clicking this year. When they move the ball quickly, Kerry are so potent in front of the goal.

Derry go down with new manager, Mickey Harte. That wasn’t received too well in the Tyrone quarters, but he’ll struggle if the Glen players aren’t involved, we saw how good they were when winning the club championship last weekend. It’s a tough away trip for the first round and I expect Kerry to win this one handy enough.

Rock’s a hard place to fill

We’ve seen Dessie Farrell use plenty of players over the last two years so that’s the sort of squad he has to pick from, minus one in Dean Rock.

His free taking was second to none and that was down to pure preparation. His career has been magnificent and he leaves a huge hole behind, so someone’s got to fill it. Dublin are top of the tree again, but they don’t have a consistent free taker at the moment. It opens the door for someone in that free-taking role to take the bull by the horns and run with it.

I hope they just can get a fully fit squad during this league campaign and I think it’ll come down to a fight between them and Mayo and Kerry.

Pressure on Red Hand

Tyrone didn’t go far in the championship last year and they’ve had a lot of time to go back to the drawing board.

I think they need to find one or two players that really want to compete for the All-Ireland. Darragh Canavan and Darren McCurry have been very good for them the last couple of seasons, but you need even more from them guys. Especially around that middle third, the likes of Con Kilpatrick need to really take the bull by the horns because the one All-Ireland they did win, they haven’t really backed up.

You just don’t know what Tyrone and Roscommon have at the moment ahead of their league opener, but I have a suspicion Tyrone are going to build something this year. For me, they need to have a big season.

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