The inter-county famine is about to end, giving way to a nine-week feast of Allianz Football League action between the weekend after next and the four divisional finals in Croke Park on March 30/31.
The exciting programme features 116 games across the four divisions in a campaign which will mark the 27th year of Allianz’ partnership with the GAA as sponsor of the Allianz Leagues, making it one of the longest-running sponsorships in Irish sport.
CEO of Allianz Ireland, Seán McGrath said: “Over the past 27 years we have witnessed the evolution of the game along with the ever-growing profile and reputation of this competition. Such is the public appetite for Gaelic Games, which is a tradition, we at Allianz, are extremely proud to be a part of.”
“We are excited to welcome extended coverage of the 2019 Allianz Leagues with longstanding partners, eirSport, TG4 and now RTE all broadcasting live action this season. It makes for another enthralling campaign and I would like to extend my best wishes to the management, players and fans who are the heartbeat of this great competition.”
Uachtarán CLG John Horan added: "The start of the Allianz Leagues will be warmly welcomed by GAA supporters across the country as the 2019 campaign swings into life.”
"Incredibly this is Allianz’s 27th year supporting the competitions which have grown from strength to strength in recent seasons with all of the competing counties finding their competition level and keen to challenge for honours and promotion.”
"I wish all of our competing teams well and I’d like to acknowledge the ongoing support of Allianz and their CEO Seán McGrath in helping us to bring these games to the widest audience possible."
There’s a long list of intriguing questions to be answered in all four Divisions, topped by whether Dublin can win the Division 1 title for the sixth time in seven seasons, having been successful in 2013-14-15-16-18. It’s the most successful Allianz Football League run by any county since Kerry won five titles in six seasons in 1969-71-72-73-74.
Dublin will begin their title defence on Sunday week against Monaghan, the only team to beat them in Allianz League or Championship last year. Monaghan beat Jim Gavin’s men by a point in the final round of Division 1 games last March.
The competitive nature of Division 1 is underlined by the presence of six of the eight ‘Super 8’ counties from last year’s Championship. The exceptions are Cavan, who have come up from Division 2, and Mayo, who reached every All-Ireland semi-final between 2011 and 2017. Kildare and Donegal, both of whom reached the ‘Super 8s’ last year, are in Division 2 where they will be well-fancied to make a quick return to the top tier.
Galway, who marked their return to Division 1 last year by reaching the final, host Cavan on opening day while Peter Keane begins his term as Kerry manager with a test against the competition’s longest-standing manager Mickey Harte who takes his Tyrone side to Killarney. Two new managers, James Horan (Mayo) and Anthony Cunningham (Roscommon) will go head-to-head in the other opening weekend Division 1 games.