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Diarmuid Connolly’s National League Round 2 Tips & Preview

In this post BoyleSports Gaelic Football Ambassador Diarmuid Connolly previews Round 2 of the National League after some surprise results in Round 1.

2023 All-Ireland Champions Dublin fell to a shock 1-point defeat last weekend against Monaghan in Croke Park. The Dubs will travel down to Castlebar this weekend to take on old foes Mayo who are high in confidence after an 8-point win in Galway.

Monaghan, who of course beat Dublin in the opening game of Division 1, will be looking to ride the momentum of that big win as they welcome Kerry to Clones. The Kingdom will feel they have something to prove after a 1-point home loss to Derry in their opening game.

Derry v Tyrone is the one that all eyes will be on this weekend as Mickey Harte, a 3-time All-Ireland winning manager with Tyrone, will face off against his own county in what sets up to be a game with Championship-level intensity in the first weekend of February.

Finally, we have a battle of Connacht neighbours as Galway and Roscommon face off in Dr Hyde Park. Both sides are in desperate need of a win after opening-round defeats.

Check out all of Diarmuid Connolly’s thoughts on this weekend’s Division 1 games below.

Mayo v Dublin Preview

Well, it will certainly be a contrast from last weekend because look Dublin played in Croke Park last weekend, we expected them to come out and have a big performance. I think they started the game pretty well.

For me, it was their final third that let them down. They created a lot of chances, not that they dominated at the midfield but they were fairly good at midfield. I thought Fenton had a really good game at midfield.

I thought Kilkenny was decent in the half-forward line, Costello looked busy and the same with Paddy small inside, but Dublin just didn’t take their chances. They had Monaghan on the ropes and then they let them back into the game.

For Mayo, a huge win down in Galway in their opening game of the season. Obviously, they met each other a lot last year. But 2-12 was a big score to put up.

Cillian O’Connor was back on a penalty. Jordan Flynn I thought was probably the standout player for Mayo in the game. But Dublin have it all to do here, going to Castlebar, 2nd weekend of the National League, heavy pitches, it’s going to be completely different to Croke Park.

I expect this is going to be a really, really tight fair. There could be a few big tackles going in and I think it’ll be a tight one but Dublin need to get something going early in this league. They can’t go 2 or 3 without a win and then struggle for the rest of it. So yeah, it’s a big game for Dublin.

Key Players in Mayo v Dublin

There are plenty of players you could talk about. I just mentioned Jordan Flynn, I thought he was very good the last day. Ryan O’Donoghue and Cillian O’Connor inside along with Tommy Conroy. Mayo have loads in their forward line, as do Dublin I suppose.

We haven’t seen Paul Mannion, he hasn’t been back from playing with Kilmacud Crokes. Cormac Costello looked sharpish last weekend. Con O’Callaghan was kept scoreless last weekend by that Monaghan defence, so I don’t foresee that happening again up in Mayo.

I think Con will be disappointed that he was kept scoreless in the game. Not that he wasn’t impactful on the game, but he didn’t get on the scoreboard like he usually does. So again, Dublin didn’t put up a big score line and that’s not akin to what Dublin do in Croke Park. So that’s a testament as well to what Monaghan were doing in the defensive line too.

I foresee Dublin making a good few changes this weekend going to Castlebar. You might get James McCarthy in from the start…

more senior guys in just to get the ball rolling and then roll the cavalry off the bench.

That’s the way I would see it probably going this weekend. It’ll be very cagey to be honest with you from the start but we’re looking for fresh legs coming off the bench in the last 20-25 minutes to win the game. That’ll be the way it’ll look for me.

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Mayo v Dublin Odds Price Boosts - 2024 National League

Monaghan v Kerry Preview

It’s a tough one to say. I was very impressed with Monaghan last weekend. I thought their running power was very good. They look really fit. Not that Dublin didn’t look fit, but they were still full of running coming into the last 10 minutes, which is a great sign to see.

Every single one of their substitutes contributed as well, which is another great thing to see. Their substitutes linked up for two major scores coming down the stretch to get them over the line against Dublin and that’s obviously a beautiful thing. Stephen O’Hanlon and Michael Bannigan in the half-forward line for me really made this Monaghan side tick.

For me the standout player last weekend in that game was Stephen O’Hanlon, he was absolutely unbelievable. I was talking to some Monaghan guys in the BoyleSports box in Croke Park and they were saying this guy is a phenomenal athlete. He was over in the States playing basketball, and you can see it in him.

He literally ran at the Dublin defence. He got the goal to win the game, but…

Stephen O’Hanlon’s play throughout the game was unbelievable. This guy is going to be something special I think.

And he’s stepping into the mould of McManus, who obviously stepped away this year. So he could be a real, real strong player for Monaghan this year. I was really impressed with him.

Kerry were very stop-start. It was tentative enough and I expected that with Mickey Harte going down to Kerry for the first time. With a new team in Derry, I don’t think he was going to come out and play this all-expansive football but they struggled for long periods. I know that Derry are really, really strong in defence but their attack was unbelievable.

Like I thought they’d rest the guys from Glen, and give them a couple of weeks off like the Kerry management gave the Clifford brothers some time off and I think that had an impact on the result.

Kerry weren’t as free-flowing up front without the two Clifford lads inside. Sean O’Shea was fairly decent, he was good off his frees but other than that they didn’t have too much penetration going from the front. So could we see them two Cliffords maybe start the next day? If they do, I would have to back Kerry for that one.

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Monaghan v Kerry Odds - 2024 National League

Derry v Tyrone Preview

I think some people take their eye off the ball a little bit, especially the fanfare that goes along with it. Mickey Harte obviously is a Tyrone stalwart, he’s won three All-Irelands with them. Probably the best manager ever to come out of Tyrone. To change and go to your rivals in Derry, especially when they’re an up-and-coming force in Ulster at the moment.

Everybody is going to be talking about this. It’s the game everyone wants to go to this weekend, and it’s the game everybody wants to see.

It’s in Derry, which I think kind of teethers it into the favour of this Derry side. I was very impressed with them last weekend, going down to Kerry and doing what they did. They’ve huge players now all over the field.

For me, the driving force for this Derry side is Gareth McKinless. He’s the centre-back, but he’s the one that’s just everywhere. Everything good that goes through Derry goes through him and Conor Glass in the middle of the field.

I thought Ciaran McFaul as well, even though the long season that these guys had with the Glen this year they’ve excelled, I think they’ve come on another step or two since last season.

I fancy Derry for this one. I just think Tyrone are a little bit light up front. I think they’re very reliant on Darragh Canavan. We spoke about it on the opening weekend.

If Tyrone could find maybe one or two other forwards to chip in with three or four scores, they will become a force because they’re very assured at the back. I thought they were good in the midfield the last day.

This is going to be a really rough and tumble one. I could see a few yellows and a few red cards.

I fancy Derry to come out on top of this one, maybe by a point or two at home, with about 13 men on the field.

I think your bet of the weekend is 2+ red cards in this game.

Derry v Tyrone Red Card Market

1 Red Card @ 5/4

2+ Red Cards @ 4/1

3+ Red Cards @ 10/1

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Derry v Tyrone Odds - 2024 National League

Roscommon v Galway Preview

It’s a huge game for both sides, similar to Dublin, similar to Kerry after losing on your opening weekend. They have to go down to Roscommon. It’s not an easy place to go to the Hyde and try to get a result as well.

Roscommon, yes, they had a great start last year, but not as good this year. We’ve seen that can happen, though. Whoever loses this game, could be in a little bit of trouble. Two losses on the bounce and you’re sitting at the bottom of the league, it’s not a nice place to be.

I think Roscommon are probably in a better place than Galway right now. Galway are very reliant on Shane Walsh up front…

and he’s had a long season with Kilmacud Crokes so that will take a factor on these guys, especially on their sharpness and on their form.

Donie Smith and Diarmuid Murtagh were very good for Roscommon last weekend but I think they’re more of a balanced side at the moment. Galway have a couple of men to come back into their squad and I think that will bolster them a little bit coming to the end of the season.

This is a huge game, whoever loses this could be in a small bit of trouble coming into the third round of the league.

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Roscommon v Galway Odds - 2024 National League

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