It’s all to play for this weekend in round five of the 2023 Lidl National League with crucial points on offer for teams at both ends of each division
Compiled by Jackie Cahill
ANOTHER huge weekend of Lidl National League action could see high-flying Kerry book a slot in the 2023 Division 1 Final.
The Kingdom, with four wins from four, host Lidl NFL Division 1 and TG4 All-Ireland champions Meath in Brosna on Saturday (2pm).
This fixture will mark the first meeting between the counties since Meath defeated Kerry in the 2022 TG4 All-Ireland Senior decider.
If Kerry get the win, and results elsewhere go in their favour, they can eye up a Croke Park Lidl National League top-flight decider on April 15.
Later on Saturday, the clash between Dublin and Mayo is the live TG4 offering from DCU St Clare’s (4.30pm).
On Sunday, there are two more Division 1 fixtures. Galway, in second place behind Kerry, travel to third-placed Waterford for a crucial fixture in Dungarvan (1pm).
At 2pm, bottom of the table Donegal, without a point to date, face a long trip South to Mallow and a clash with Cork.
Also on Sunday, there’s a full round of fixtures in Divisions 2 and 3.
All games, bar the live TG4 match, are available to view via the LGFA’s live-streaming portal: https://bit.ly/3k9k8CB
All games 2pm unless stated
Saturday 25th February
2023 Lidl National League Division 1
Kerry v Meath; Brosna
Kerry have scorched through Division 1 to date, with the only 100 per cent record in the top flight.
If the Kingdom score another victory against TG4 All-Ireland champions Meath, and results elsewhere go their way, the 2022 Division 2 winners can look forward to a Division 1 showpiece on April 15.
And there will be a huge motivation within the Kerry camp ahead of this one, as they aim to gain a measure of revenge for last year’s All-Ireland Final loss.
Meath, who are also reigning Division 1 champions, know that nothing short of a victory will see them out of the running for another Final slot.
The stakes are high in Brosna ahead of what promises to be another fascinating showdown between two teams who will be among the leading contenders for All-Ireland glory later in the year.
Kerry (v Meath): C Butler; E Lynch, K Cronin, A Dillane; A O’Connell, C Lynch, L Galvin; L Scanlon, M O’Connell; N Carmody, N Ní Chonchúir, A Galvin; S O’Shea (capt.), E McGlynn, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.
Meath (v Kerry): M McGuirk; A Sheridan, M.K. Lynch, K Newe; N Gallogly, S Ennis (capt.), A Cleary; M O’Shaughnessy, E Duggan; M Thynne, M Byrne, C Smyth; O Callan, S Grimes, N O’Sullivan.
Dublin v Mayo; DCU St Clare’s, 4.30pm – Live on TG4
Mayo claimed a crucial and impressive victory last time out against Meath.
The green and red had lost their opening three matches but this win could yet turn out to be the one that keeps them in Division 1.
The Westerners now face another big test against a Dublin side smarting from defeat to Kerry last time out.
Dublin will need a late surge if they’re to make it to the Division 1 Final but a win here would leave them in with an outside shot ahead of the last two rounds of fixtures.
Mayo go into this one knowing that even a draw could prove crucial as they aim to stave off the threat of relegation.
Dublin (v Mayo): A Shiels; R Brennan, M Byrne, J Tobin; L Magee, D Lawless, L Caffrey; J Dunne, E O’Dowd; C O’Connor, C Rowe (capt.), O Nolan; K Sullivan, J Egan, S Wylde.
Mayo (v Dublin): L Brennan; É Ronayne, R Flynn, D Caldwell; C Needham, F McHale, K Sullivan (capt.); C McManamon, S Cafferky; S Walsh, S Howley, M Cannon; L Cafferky, R Kearns, T Needham.
Sunday 26th February
2023 Lidl National League Division 1
Cork v Donegal; Mallow, 12.30pm
The relegation picture for Donegal, last year’s Finalists, is becoming more bleak with each passing round.
Maxi Curran’s charges sit rock bottom and without a point from their opening four games.
Going away to Cork and trying to get a result is another big ask for the Ulster outfit but another defeat would leave them in even more serious trouble.
Cork are on four points in Division 1, with a win, a draw and two defeats from their four matches to date.
A Final place looks like it’s out of reach and of more pressing importance to manager Shane Ronayne will be to bounce back from defeat to Galway in their last fixture.
Cork (v Donegal): M O’Sullivan; M Duggan, E Meaney, R Phelan; S Kelly, A Healy, R Leahy; H Looney, S Leahy (capt.); L Coppinger, K Quirke, E Cleary; O Cahalane, E Kiely, C O’Sullivan.
Donegal (v Cork): A McColgan; N Carr, E McGinley, E Gallagher (capt.); A Boyle Carr, N McLaughlin, T Hegarty; S Twohig, L Ryan; S Boyle, K Long, K Dowds; J McFadden, S White, C McGarvey.
Waterford v Galway; Dungarvan, 1pm
This is quite simply a massive fixture.
Galway, in second place and unbeaten to date, face a Waterford side who would go level on points with the Tribeswomen should they win.
Waterford have been really good in Division 1 to date, suffering just one defeat along the way, and a win against Galway would have the Déise dreaming of a Croke Park outing on April 15.
Galway will be on the cusp of a Final slot with victory and the chasing pack below these two teams will be hoping for a Waterford win to keep their Final chances alive.
Dungarvan is the venue for a pivotal fixture and Lauren McGregor’s goal-scoring form for Waterford has been one of the real stories from Division 1 to date.
Waterford (v Galway): E O’Brien; C Murray, M Dunford, A Murray; E Power, E Murray, H Power; K Hogan, A Waring; A O’Neill, A Fitzgerald, C McCarthy; Karen McGrath (capt.), B McMaugh, L McGregor.
Galway (v Waterford): A Griffin; K Geraghty, S Ní Loingsigh, E Gavin; C Cooney, N Ward, A Molloy; A Davoren, L Ward; L Coen, O Divilly, S Divilly; E Noone, R Leonard, K Slevin.
2023 Lidl National League Division 2
Armagh v Laois; Athletic Grounds, 4pm
It’s currently a three-way fight for Division 2 Final places, with pace-setters Armagh, Laois and Tipperary all in contention.
Armagh can set their sights on Croke Park on April 15 with a fifth straight win and as the only county in the Division with a 100 per cent record, the Orchard County are in really good shape.
Laois are in second place and landed a crucial win against promotion rivals Tipperary last time out.
Another win for the O’Moore County would leave the top of the table delicately poised ahead of the final two rounds of games.
Cavan v Roscommon; Kingspan Breffni
Aishling Sheridan netted against Monaghan last time out to keep Cavan in the hunt for a Final slot.
The Breffni County are level on six points with Westmeath but nothing less than a win against Roscommon will keep their promotion hopes alive.
Roscommon are in all sorts of trouble at the bottom of the table, with four defeats from four outings ahead of this one.
Relegation is a real prospect for the 2022 Division 3 winners and they’ll be anxious to avoid dropping down to the third tier again.
Monaghan v Tipperary; Magheracloone
An intriguing battle lies in store in Magheracloone.
Monaghan, despite losing to Cavan last time out, could still make a Division 2 Final but they have lots of work to do.
A win here would be a massive boost for Monaghan as they’re up against a Tipperary team currently sitting three points ahead of them.
Tipp will be keen to hit back after suffering their first defeat of the campaign against Laois – and a Premier County win would keep them on track for a Final slot.
Westmeath v Tyrone; TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar
Westmeath aren’t out of the equation just yet as the battle for the two precious Final slots heats up.
They’re on six points and victory over Roscommon last time out has kept the Midlanders in the hunt.
Nothing less than a perfect record in their last three games will suffice, however, and they’ll face a Tyrone team in search of precious points themselves.
Tyrone were beaten by an Aimee Mackin inspired Armagh last time out and they’re not out of the woods yet, with one win to date, in the quest to retain Division 2 status.
2023 Lidl National League Division 3
Clare v Down; Cusack Park, Ennis
A pivotal fixture in Division 3 sees Clare welcome Down to Ennis.
Down are one of a cluster of three teams, alongside Kildare and Wexford, who are chasing current table-toppers Louth.
A win for Down and they’ll fancy their chances of nabbing a Division 3 Final slot while Clare, on six points, would keep their hopes alive with victory.
Longford v Sligo; Emmet Park, Killoe
A huge game in the relegation battle sees Longford at home to Sligo.
Longford have one win from four games to date and another one here would see them move clear of danger.
Sligo’s plight is more serious. The Yeats County have lost all four of their matches and are locked at the bottom of the table with Offaly, who are also pointless.
Louth v Wexford; Darver
A fifth straight win for Louth would see them preserve their 100 per cent record and leave them on the cusp of a Final slot.
A Wexford victory, however, would throw the cat among the pigeons in the promotion race.
Wexford are level on nine points with Kildare and Down and need a win here to remain in contention.
Offaly v Kildare; Glenisk O’Connor Park, Tullamore, 11.45am
Kildare could steal an early march on their promotion rivals in Sunday’s early start.
A win for the Lilywhites would leave them level with points on Louth, who they lost out to last Sunday, falling to a first defeat of the campaign.
Offaly are in desperate need of points themselves, as last year’s Division 4 winners have suffered four defeats in their first four games.