By Odhrán Crumley
Division Three has not gone according to the script thus far with favourites for promotion before a ball was kicked (Armagh and Laois) find themselves prompting up the rear of the table. Both sides will need victories this weekend to mount any real promotion charge.
LAOIS VS TIPPERARY, SATURDAY 7PM, O’MOORE PARK
Laois responded to their opening day hammering at the hands of Louth by travelling to Armagh and stealing the win in the dying embers of the game. They will look to kick on with a win at home to last years All Ireland Semi Finalists. Tipp opened their account beating Antrim on the opening day before being edged out by Sligo before the break. The bookmakers see this as a tight encounter reflected in their odds. Laois can be backed at 11/10 while the Munster men are slight favourites at 10/11. Both sides opening two games have been high scoring encounters typical of Division three thus far, expect a shootout to play out in Portlaoise on Saturday night, the visitors just might have the greater firepower. TIPP BY 3.
ANTRIM VS SLIGO, SUNDAY 2PM, CORRIGAN PARK
Antrim will have home advantage for the first time in the 2017 league campaign and will hope it can stand them in good stead to get their first points on the board. Heavy defeats away at Tipperary and Offaly have reaffirmed what many thought in the Saffrons making an immediate return to the bottom tier. Sligo travel north with an undefeated record to protect and will be confident of adding two more points in their push for promotion. SLIGO BY 5.
LONGFORD VS ARMAGH, SUNDAY 2PM, PEARSE PARK
It’s all doom and gloom in Armagh as they currently sit second bottom of Division Three. The Orchard men just can’t seem to get over the line instead falling over the said line. They coughed up a five point lead to only take a point away in Sligo. Lessons were not learned as they spurned a six point lead in the final quarter to hand Laois both points. They will not go to Longford a notoriously hard place to go for Ulster counties as Monaghan, Down and Derry can attest to. The Leinster boys have made a solid start to the campaign beating Offaly before being defeated by leaders Louth by the narrowest of margins. I expect a tight, cautious and defensive game to play out with neither side wanting to give anything away. DRAW
OFFALY VS LOUTH, SUNDAY 2PM, TULLAMORE
Louth are the only side to have won both their opening games and sit proudly at the top of the table. A through destruction of Laois was backed up with a gritty victory against Longford. Offaly will provide another stern test from within the compounds of O’Connor Park. The home side kicked an impressive twenty three points in their thirteen point win over Antrim last time out, that is three more than Louth have conceded so far. This factor could and should see another close encounter play out as these two Leinster sides meet, I can see the confidence of the ‘wee’ county making the difference in the final stages. LOUTH BY ONE.