DUBLIN TO BEGIN LEAGUE TITLE DEFENCE WITH DIFFICULT AWAY GAME AGAINST CORK.

Dublin may have got some assurance that Croke Park will continue to be the home stage for their 2015 Leinster football championship matches but they will face a difficult away schedule when it comes to defending their Allianz Football League title for a third successive year.

Four of their seven games next spring have been fixed away from home. Starting with their opening game against Cork: their 2015 football league schedule also includes away games to All-Ireland champions Kerry, then Mayo, and Monaghan – although there may yet be some room for manoeuvre before those fixtures are rubber-stamped by Central Council.

In the meantime the provisional fixture list for both the 2015 football and 2015 hurling league has been distributed to all counties for consideration, and it does cap the opportunities for Dublin’s Spring Series promotion at Croke Park.

Unlike recent years, when the Allianz Football League has opened up under the floodlights at Croke Park, Dublin’s opening game is away to Cork, provisionally fixed for the Sunday, February 1st, at Páirc Uí Rinn.

Dublin’s three home football games, however, have all been fixed for Saturday evenings at Croke Park – starting with an eagerly-awaited rematch of their All-Ireland semi-final against Donegal (on February 7th), then against old rivals Tyrone (on March 7th), and finally, against Derry, in the penultimate round (on March 28th), the team they also beat in this year’s league final.

This also means there is only one opportunity for a Croke Park double-header with the Dublin hurlers.

The Allianz Hurling League starts a fortnight later, on February 14th/15th, with Dublin’s opening game against Tipperary fixed for the Sunday at Parnell Park.

The only Croke Park double-header on the fixture list is on Saturday, March 7th – when the Dublin footballers host Tyrone, and the Dublin hurlers host Cork.

Earlier this year, the Allianz Football League opened up with the always attractive tie of Dublin against Kerry at Croke Park. For 2015, the opening Saturday night in Division One will feature beaten All-Ireland finalists Donegal against Derry, and also Tyrone against Monaghan (both Donegal and Monaghan gaining promotion from Division Two this year).

In other years, Dublin have negotiated with other counties to help boost their Spring Series promotion.

In 2013, Kildare agreed to switch two of their league games from Newbridge to Croke Park, including their game against Dublin, although that decision was also partly based on the fact the capacity at Newbridge had been limited to just 6,200 for health and safety reasons.

Kildare also played Donegal at Croke Park, that game featuring as part of a double-bill with Dublin’s game against Cork, all of which meant Dublin ended up playing five of the 2012 football league games at Croke Park.

At this stage, however, it appears unlikely that Dublin will be able to renegotiate any of their 2015 league fixtures before Central Council signs off on the dates and venues at their next meeting on Saturday, November 1st.

Cork are unlikely to give up home advantage for their opening game, and likewise Kerry, who are set to host Dublin under floodlights in Tralee on Saturday, February 28th.

Indeed, the All-Ireland champions face a difficult opener against Mayo, the team they eventually got past in their All-Ireland semi-final replay. That game is also fixed for Sunday, February 1st in Killarney.

The 2015 Allianz Hurling League has an attractive opening game in Division 1A when defending champions Kilkenny travel to Cork on the Saturday evening of February 14th.

The following day, Dublin are at home to Tipperary, while Galway are at home to Clare.

For Ger Cunningham, Dublin’s newly-appointed hurling manager, the 2015 schedule then continues with Kilkenny (away), Cork (at home), Clare (away), and finally Galway (at home).

Allianz Football League 2015 fixtures (provisional)
First team named at home)

DIVISION ONE
Sat, Jan 31st: Donegal v Derry; Tyrone v Monaghan.

Sun, Feb 1st: Cork v Dublin; Kerry v Mayo.

Sat, Feb 7th: Dublin v Donegal.

Sun, Feb 8th: Derry v Kerry; Mayo v Tyrone; Monaghan v Cork

Sat, Feb 28th: Kerry v Dublin; Tyrone v Derry.

Sun, March 1st: Donegal v Cork; Mayo v Monaghan.

Sat, March 7th: Donegal v Monaghan; Dublin v Tyrone.

Sun, March 8th: Cork v Kerry; Derry v Mayo.

Sat, March 14th: Mayo v Dublin.

Sun, March 15th: Kerry v Donegal; Monaghan v Derry; Tyrone v Cork.

Sat, March 28th: Donegal v Tyrone; Dublin v Derry.

Sun, March 29th: Cork v Mayo; Kerry v Monaghan.

Sun, April 5th: Derry v Cork; Mayo v Donegal; Monaghan v Dublin; Tyrone v Kerry.

Allianz Hurling League 2015 fixtures (First team named at home)

DIVISION 1A
Sat, February 14th: Cork v Kilkenny.

Sun, February 15th: Dublin v Tipperary; Galway v Clare.

Sat, February 21st: Cork v Clare.

Sun, February 22nd: Kilkenny v Dublin; Tipperary v Galway.

Sat, March 7th: Dublin v Cork.

Sun, March 8th: Clare v Tipperary; Galway v Kilkenny.

Sat, March 14th: Tipperary v Kilkenny.

Sun, March 15th: Clare v Dublin; Galway v Cork.

Sun, March 22nd: Cork v Tipperary; Dublin v Galway; Kilkenny v Clare.
(Irish Times)
Image Credit:INPHOIMG_6042.JPG

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