Leinster Football Championship preview: Will Dublin continue their dominance?
Last Updated: 06/05/19 5:25pm
As the Leinster Football Championship gets underway this weekend, we run the rule over the 11 competitors.
Hunting their 14th Leinster title in 15 years, the Sky Blues have enjoyed a firm grip on the trophy in recent times. That looks unlikely to change in 2019, as they launch their bid for a record fifth All-Ireland title in succession.
Jim Gavin's charges begin their campaign against Louth or Wexford, and it's expected that they will ease to further Leinster supremacy.
Whatever happens this summer, it will be historic given the previous bids for five in a row. However, not many are expecting the Dubs to break a sweat in Leinster.
The chasing pack
The Royals enjoyed a successful league campaign, winning promotion back to Division 1 for the first time since 2006. Focus now turns to the championship, with a spot in the Super 8s a realistic goal.
Andy McEntee's side will also relish the opportunity to measure themselves against the Dubs in Leinster, but in order to do so, they will need to reach the final for the first time since 2014.
The draw has been kind to them, and they will fancy their chances of reaching the decider, given Dublin and Kildare are on the opposite side of the draw.
Cian O'Neill's outfit were one of the stories of 2018 after a memorable qualifier run. This came off the back of a shock defeat at the hands of Carlow, and the Lilywhites know they must play to their potential in the province if they are to return to the business end of the championship.
An opening-round win over Wicklow would be rewarded with a quarter-final against Longford.
The loss of Daniel Flynn could be a killer blow, but they still have the talent to make a splash this summer.
A Division 3 title backs up their O'Byrne Cup triumph, and Jack Cooney's influence in his first year as manager is certainly emphatic.
Another clash with Laois is in the diary in the Leinster quarter-final, after they twice overcame the O'Moore County during the Allianz League. They have real momentum off the back of their two trophies this year, and will be aiming to bring that impressive form into the championship.
John Sugrue has overseen back-to-back promotions since taking charge of the O'Moore County. Having brought the side to last year's Leinster final, the Kerry native knows what it takes to go deep in the provincial championship.
Two springtime visits to Croke Park won't have done this side any harm in terms of building experience, and they will relish an immediate shot at revenge following their league final defeat to Westmeath.
A difficult 2018 has been put firmly behind them, and the Wee County were among those who feel they were unlucky not to secure promotion to Division 2.
Wayne Kierans' side kick off their campaign against Wexford, with the carrot of a crack at Dublin in the quarter-final on offer.
Buoyed by the return of the Mullinalaghta contingent following their Leinster title heroics, Longford are coming in under the radar for the summer, and will fancy their chances of reaching the provincial semi-final for the second year running.
Granted a bye to the quarter-final, they lie in wait for the winner of Kildare v Wicklow. Longford will hold no fear of either, and will fancy another crack against the Lilywhites following their qualifier loss in 2018.
The Model County are at a low ebb right now, and will feel they have a point to prove after a disappointing 2018. A mixed league campaign saw them finish in fifth spot in Division 4.
They will understand the importance of overcoming Louth in the first round, given they haven't enjoyed a victory in the Leinster Championship since a two-point win over Longford in 2014.
John Evan's stint in the Garden County enters its second season, as the Kerry native looks to cause a few shocks this summer.
Very few will give them a chance against Kildare this weekend, but the experience of the 2018 win over Offaly could stand them in good stead.
Carlow's momentum hit a thunderous halt in recent weeks, as they were relegated from Division 3 on the final game-day, before manager Turlough O'Brien, coach Stephen Poacher and star player Brendan Murphy were hit with significant suspensions.
This means that their Leinster Championship task is all the more daunting, and the odds will be stacked against them when they take on the winner of Meath v Offaly.
Following a tumultuous 2018 campaign, the Faithful consolidated their Division 3 place with a great escape in the league. Focus now turns to the summer, and they're paired with high-flying Meath in the first round of Leinster.
John Maughan has certainly steadied the ship, but we have seen little thus far in 2019 to suggest that Offaly will upset the Royals in the first round.
What the experts are saying
"It’s hard to look past Dublin in Leinster."
Senan Connell feels the Dubs will claim another title
Sky Sports' live GAA coverage gets underway on Saturday, May 11 as Dublin face Kilkenny in the Leinster Hurling Championship opener.