Preview: Wednesday's inter-county action
Wednesday January 3
By Cian O'Connell
Connacht FBD League
Sligo v Galway, Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence, 7pm
Leitrim v Roscommon, Leitrim GAA Centre of Excellence, 7pm
Managers Cathal Corey and Kevin Walsh will be placing an emphasis on experimentation, seeking to unearth new talent.
Sligo underage teams have improved significantly during the past decade so it will be interesting to see how some of these emerging players fare at senior level.
A string of last year's Connacht Under 21 winning team are set to feature this month for Galway including goalkeeper Ronan O'Beolain, Sean Andy O'Ceallaigh, Sean Kelly, and Robert Finnerty.
Another possible addition to the Tribe panel ahead of the Allianz Football League is pacy Galway United striker Padraic Cunningham.
Leitrim afforded several young players an opportunity under Brendan Guckian's stewardship and that policy is expected to continue.
Roscommon have been strengthened by the return of the Daly brothers - Niall, Conor, and Ronan - as Kevin McStay looks to build on an encouraging 2017 Championship.
Bord Na Mona O'Byrne Cup
Dublin v Offaly, Parnell Park, 8pm
Kildare v Louth, Hawkfield, 8pm
Carlow v Meath, Netwatch Cullen Park, 8pm
Boosted by a convincing win over Wexford last weekend, Offaly will be hoping to deliver another capable display against Dublin at Parnell Park.
Last year Dublin claimed silverware in the competition using a panel of promising players and it is an approach they are set to adopt once more in 2018.
Five of last year's All Ireland Under 21 winning outfit - Sean McMahon, Glenn O'Reilly, Brian Howard, and Colm Basquel are named to start.
Jordan Hayes and Cian Johnson impressed for the Faithful in their 3-16 to 0-9 triumph over Wexford.
At Hawkfield Kildare have named a starting XV with a blend of youth and experience for their tussle against Louth, who were beaten by Longford.
Mick O'Grady, Johnny Byrne, Kevin Feely, Fergal Conway, David Slattery, and Cathal McNally are all included by Cian O'Neill.
John Murphy and Sean Gannon pinched goals for Carlow in their victory over Wicklow, and Turlough O'Brien's charges face Meath at Netwatch Cullen Park.
Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup
Tyrone v Antrim, Athletic Grounds **(note change of venue), 8pm
Down v Armagh, Pairc Esler, 8pm
Fermanagh v Monaghan, Brewster Park, 8pm
Cavan v St Mary's, Kingspan Breffni, 8pm
Derry v UUJ, Owenbeg, 8pm
Donegal v Queens, Ballybofey, 8pm
McKenna Cup specialists Tyrone have named a strong team for this evening's clash against Antrim at the Athletic Grounds.
Tyrone have won this competition six times in a row and Mickey Harte's starting XV includes Niall Morgan, Padraig Hampsey, Tiarnan McCann, Mattie Donnelly, and Niall Sludden.
Antrim are managed by Lenny Harbinson, who guided St Gall's to All Ireland club glory in 2010.
An interesting match is anticipated at Pairc Esler when Down host Armagh. In the Ulster Championship last year Eamonn Burns' charges defeated Armagh, who subsequently embarked on a good Qualifiers adventure.
There is a nice mix of youth and experience in the Armagh starting team named for this clash with Charlie Vernon partnering Aaron Findon at centrefield.
Rory Gallagher takes charge of Fermanagh against Monaghan at Brewster Park, while Cavan include eight Under 21 players from 2017 in their panel for the clash with St Mary's at Kingspan Breffni.
Damian McErlain's Derry host UUJ at Owenbeg, while Declan Bonner returns as Donegal manager for a game with Queens at Ballybofey.
Bonner must plan without Neil McGee, Frank McGlynn, and talisman Michael Murphy for the opening rounds of the Allianz Football League due to injury.
Bord Na Mona Walsh Cup
Laois v Kilkenny, O'Moore Park, 7pm
Wexford v Carlow, Hollymount, 8pm
Dublin v Meath, Abbotstown, 8pm
Laois defeated Kildare last weekend and will be eager to test Kilkenny at Portlaoise.
Cha Dwyer, Paddy Purcelll, and Podge Delaney all made contributions for Laois in that success.
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald has indicated that new members of the training panel will be afforded chances in the competition.
"We’ll definitely try out guys in it this time," Fitzgerald states. "It’ll be a mix. I’d say we’ll have some really experienced guys and maybe throw in another three or four and see what they are like, to get games. It’s a good opportunity to get games."
Dublin, under new boss Pat Gilroy face Meath, who beat Antrim on Saturday, in Abbotstown.