Drama on the final day

With the final day of NFL done and dusted, Shaun Casey looks at some of the big storylines that have dominated the round seven fixtures of recent seasons.

2023 – Monaghan

MONAGHAN love the last-day drama and could have been nominated for every year, but last season was significant as they held onto their top tier status for a tenth successive year. Monaghan travelled to Mayo, who hadn’t tasted defeat, and arrived home with the two points that guaranteed safety thanks to goals from Conor McManus and Ryan O’Toole. Vinny Corey’s side kept their top tier status in his first season in charge.

2022 – Roscommon

ROSCOMMON climbed to the top of Division Two and secured promotion with a first league win over Galway in 19 years. Conor Cox led the way, rattling off a tally of 0-8, while Cian McKeon hit the all-important goal in their five-point win. As it turned out, Roscommon faced Galway in the league final and edged that encounter as well, with one point to spare this time around in Croke Park thanks to an injury time goal from Diarmuid Murtagh.

2021 – Cavan

IN the split leagues of 2021, Cavan suffered relegation to the basement division. They overcame Longford, who finished bottom of their group, but defeats to Fermanagh and Derry meant Mickey Graham’s side faced the relegation play-offs. There, they met a Wicklow side that had nothing to show for their efforts, losing their three games, but still they had enough to see off the Breffni Blues thanks to goals from Patrick O’Connor and Seanie Furlong (2).

2020 – Armagh

AFTER years of bouncing between Division Two and Three, Armagh finally climbed up to the top flight with a last-day win over Clare away from home. The league had been disrupted due to Covid-19 and when action returned a home loss to Roscommon put their promotion hopes on hold. However, a Callum Cumiskey goal against the Banner County along with a strong final quarter surge led the Orchard County to Division One football in 2021.

2019 – Mayo

MAYO welcomed Monaghan to Castlebar for round seven of the 2019 league knowing they needed to win to reach the league final. Mayo earned the victory they needed, while Monaghan remained in the division with just four points thanks to other results. Mayo beat Malachy O’Rourke’s men by three points and set up a league final date with Kerry which they also won to pick up their first piece of national silverware since winning the title back in 2001.

2018 – Down

HEADING into the final round of league fixtures, Down knew they had to pick up two points in Meath to avoid the drop to Division Three. They were tied on six points with Cork, but the Rebels held a three-point score difference advantage. Cork were away to table-toppers Roscommon and lost as expected, but Down couldn’t live up to their end of the bargain and lost in Navan by nine points, saving Meath from the drop and meaning Cork remained in the division thanks to the score difference ruling.

2017 – Derry

BY the end of the 2017 Division Two league, Clare, Down and Derry all finished in the bottom half on five points while Fermanagh were relegated on four. On the final day, Derry travelled to Enniskillen with both sides hoping to secure their status and it was Derry who picked up the two points on offer. It wasn’t as easy as that however, and the Oakleafers ended up suffering relegation due to score difference, meaning Clare and Down stayed up.

2016 – Cork

CORK were one of four teams, along with Donegal, Monaghan and Mayo, that finished the 2016 Division One campaign on six points but they suffered the drop while Donegal actually qualified for the league semi-finals. It all came down to score difference in the end and losing to their arch-rivals Kerry on the final day, away from home, by five points ultimately saw the Rebels fall short in their ambitions of holding on to their top tier status.

2015 – Antrim

WITH Antrim hoping to climb out of Division Four, it all came down to the final round of fixtures that saw them travel to Offaly needing a win. As fate had it, Offaly were on the exact same points as Antrim, nine, so it all came down to a winner-takes-all encounter at O’Connor Park, Tullamore. Offaly, who went on to win the Division Four league title, won by five points in the end and climbed up to Division Three.

2014 – Donegal

Going into Jim McGuinness’ final year in charge during his first stint, although no one knew it at the time, his first mission was to guide them back to Division One. Donegal faced an Armagh side, away from home, that were battling at the foot of the division so two points here were crucial for both teams. Donegal ended up cruising to a five-point win, sending Armagh to Division Three while securing a top flight position for themselves in 2015.

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