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29th Mar 2024

The Allianz National League finals: All of the news, teams, updates and talking points

Lee Costello

League finals

Derry 3-18 Dublin 2-21 (Derry win 3-1 after penalty shoot-out)

What a game of Gaelic football.

Derry are Division One National Football League champions after an incredible game of Gaelic football.

In the end, three successful penalties were enough to win it for the Oak Leaf County, from Shane McGuigan, Conor Glass and Ethan Doherty, after Tom Lahiff, Lorcan O’Dell and Con O’Callaghan had all missed for Dublin.

Derry could and probably should have won the game in normal time, but had to go to distance after spurning a number of goal chances, and indeed, after a controversial last-minute free went the way of Dublin.

Niall Toner made a huge difference for Derry in extra-time, and they looked like winners when leading by three points with time just up. But then a late goal from sub Greg McEnaney sent the game to a shoot-out moments after Brian Fenton had been sent off for an off-the-ball incident with Eunan Mulholland.

A row broke out between the two teams straight after the goal, with Paddy Small sent off.

And then Derry won the day on the shoot-out.

You can keep up to date with the Division Four, Three, Two and One finals on our liveblog right here: (Please allow one minute for blog to load)

Full-time: Donegal 0-15 Armagh 0-14.

Jimmy’s winning matches again for Donegal.

Having been in control, leading by 0-12 to 0-8 with 15 minutes to go, it looked like they were cruising to glory.

But inspired by the impact of Stefan Campbell and Rian O’Neill off the bench, Armagh fought back to lead by 0-13 to 0-12 with two minutes to go.

But sensational scores from Caolan McGonigle, Oisin Gallen and Aaron Doherty won the game for Donegal.

Gallen’s late score was sensational.

Nicknamed ‘Farrah’ after his grandfather Eddie, a famous barber in Ballybofey, the MacCumhaills club-man kicked two massive second half scores for his team.

Championship permutations after Westmeath’s win over Down.

If Down reach the Ulster final and Westmeath don’t reach the Leinster final, then Down will be in the All-Ireland series for 2024, condemning Westmeath to the Tailteann Cup.

The more likely scenario, however, thanks to their Division Three final triumph over Down on Saturday night, is that Westmeath will compete in the All-Ireland series.

Westmeath can guarantee their participation in the All-Ireland series by making the Leinster final, with Wicklow (next weekend), Kildare and Louth or Carlow/Wexford standing in their way.

Thanks to their Division Three triumph, which ranks them ahead of Down, they may not even have to reach the Leinster final, however.

If they don’t reach the Leinster final, the only way they won’t be in the 16-county race for Sam Maguire is if Down beat Antrim and then Fermanagh/Armagh to reach the Ulster final,

Down would therefore be considered less likely to progress at this stand-point.

The trouble for them is that with Clare/Waterford drawn against each other in the Munster semi-final, one of those teams is guaranteed to be in the All-Ireland series, which would see Down knocked out of the 16 top ranked teams – again, if they don’t reach the Ulster final.

If Down and Westmeath were both to reach their provincial finals, then Louth will be in the Tailteann Cup.

Hope that clears it all up for you!

Jarlath Burns gave a powerful first speech as Uachtarán an Chumann Lúthchleas Gael.

Jarlath Burns handed over the Division Four Cup to Laois captain Evan O’Carroll in his first speech as Uachtarán an Chumann Lúthchleas Gael.

*We have translated some of the speech for the purpose of this piece.

“It gives me great pride and honour for me to be with you tonight for the first time as GAA president,” said Burns.

“I’d like to thank the referee and his officials for the great display they put on tonight and I hope we will see you in action during the summer.”

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors Allianz, our most loyal and diligent sponsors for 32 years, who are such a part of the Allianz Leagues. Go raibh céad míle maith agaibh go léir.

“To Leitrim. You have lit up the League this year with your outstanding, and the colour you have brought to Páirc an Crócaigh. Go raibh céad míle maith agaibh. Bhí an lucht tacaíochta (support) go hiontach.

“But today belongs to the men from the O’Moore county. I know that you will see under your manager Justin McNulty, my old team-mate, you will see tonight as part of a journey as opposed to a destination.

“Agus anois, is mór an onóir dom an corn seo a bhronnadh, an chéad corn mar Uachtarán an Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, not just onto the captain of the team, but to the man-of-the-match too, from the Crettyard club, Evan O’Carroll.”


5pm: Laois v Leitrim – Division 4. 

7.15pm Down v Westmeath – Division 3. 


1.45pm: Armagh v Donegal – Division 2. 

4pm: Dublin v Derry – Division 1

Division Four final

Leitrim will play in Croke Park this Saturday for only the sixth time in their entire history – an astonishing fact that highlights the disparity between the smaller counties and the juggernauts like Dublin and Kerry. 

Andy Moran took the job three years ago, and after a bitterly disappointing end last season when they lost to New York on penalties in the Connacht championship, things looked bad for the county. 

However, the Mayo legend has turned things around and now they are set for life in Division Three, and will be ready to give everything they have to win some silverware this weekend. 

Laois will have something to say about that of course as they demolished nearly every team that stood in their way, and the return of Justin McNulty to the managerial hot-seat has breathed new life into the squad.

McNulty managed the team before over a decade ago, but hasn’t lost his magic touch, as he will be looking to make it a clean sweep on Saturday. 

The Division Three final 

Last year’s Tailteann Cup finalists Down will play the Tailteann Cup’s first ever winners Westmeath, and it promises to be an intriguing game as the two teams have demonstrated already that they deserve to be higher than D3. 

Conor Laverty’s Down had a resurgence last year, beating Donegal in the Ulster championship, and going on to reach the final of the second tier All-Ireland series, but the Kilcoo man has much higher expectations than that, and so far the Mourne men are reaching those expectations. 

Westmeath have a host of superstars like John Heslin, and Ronan O’Toole, who are value for money on any given day, so this promises to be a brilliant match up.

The Division Two final

An all-Ulster affair will see Donegal take on Armagh in the Division Two final, and it could be the match of the weekend as both teams won’t want to show any weakness ahead of a potential match-up later in the provincial championship. 

Kieran McGeeney has used Division Two to unearth new talents like Oisin Conaty and elevate young stars like Conor Turbitt, and are now brimming with confidence as they appear to be playing a more expansive style of football. 

The mere announcement of Jim McGuinness’ return to Donegal has taken them out of the deep rut that they found themselves in last season, and injected excitement back into the county. 

Nobody expected anything less than promotion back to the top table, and he has already delivered on that front, so it will be a brilliant opportunity to see his team in acton on the big stage the weekend.

The only dampener on this game is that Donegal captain Patrick McBrearty has been ruled out with injury.

The Division One final

If Jim McGuinness returning to management was a surprise, then Mickey Harte’s appointment as Derry manager rocked the GAA world to its core, and any doubters have so far been proved wrong as the Tyrone native leads his new team into the final. 

Dublin have been the most impressive team in the league so far, and their dismantlement of Tyrone last weekend highlights just how powerful they currently are. The two sides met in last year’s Division Two final, where Dessie Farrell’s men reigned supreme, and that was the case when the teams face off earlier in the league. 

However, in that match Harte opted to play a weaker side, no doubt with the knowledge that Derry will be playing the All-Ireland champions again on a bigger stage, so now that it has arrived, we will see the Oakleafers out in full force, and that is always a sight to see.

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