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Weekend GAA Previews

Friday, January 04, 2013

It's the first week of January, a time when hope springs anew for every county in the world of GAA.

This weekend sees the resumption of inter-county action following the long winter break since the end of the All-Ireland championships, and there are football games taking place in the various competitions across all four provinces.

In Connacht, there is FBD League action, the Bord na Móna O'Byrne Cup begins in Leinster, the McGrath Cup gets underway in Munster, while the first round of games in the Power NI McKenna Cup take place in Ulster.

See below for fixture details and previews.

CONNACHT

Sunday, January 6

FBD League Round 1

Section A

Sligo v IT Sligo, Ballinode, Sligo, 1.30pm

Galway v NUI Galway, Tuam, 2pm

Section B

Roscommon v Leitrim, Elphin, 2pm

There are three games this weekend in the FBD League in Connacht, two in Section A and one in Section B. Both games in Section A are 'derbies' of sorts, with Sligo taking on IT Sligo in Ballinode, and Galway hosting NUI Galway in Tuam.

Both Sligo and Galway enter the 2013 seasons with the same managers they ended last season with, Kevin Walsh and Alan Mulholland.

Both have had to contend with a few departures from their panels over the winter period. Joe Bergin and Padráic Joyce recently brought an end to their long careers with the Tribesmen, while Walsh is currently planning without a number of players from last year's panel, such as Eamonn O'Hara, Alan Costello and Philip Greene.

In this weekend's games against IT Sligo and NUI Galway respectively, both managers will try out a number of new faces, with Walsh set to give runs to the likes of Colm Egan, Niall McManus, Adrian McIntyre and Brian Egan.

The other game in the FBD League this weekend sees Roscommon host Leitrim in Elphin. It is a first chance for new Roscommon boss John Evans to see his players in competitive action, although he is without the St. Brigid's contingent, who are currenly preparing for the All-Ireland Club Championship semi-final.

ULSTER

Sunday, January 6

Power NI Dr McKenna Cup

Section A: Monaghan v St. Mary's, Clones, 2pm
Section B: Cavan v Down, Kingspan Breffni Park, 2pm
Section C: Antrim v UUJ, Casement Park, 2pm, Tyrone v Derry, Omagh, 2pm

Founded in 1927, the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup is now in its 86th year.

There are four games taking place this weekend in Sections A, B, and C, with two all inter-county affairs, the meeting of Cavan and Down in Kingspan Breffni Park, and Tyrone v Derry in Healy Park, Omagh.

There are two third-level teams taking part in the competition this season, St. Mary's and UUJ (Jordanstown), with Queens University opting out due to the decision of a number of inter-county teams to select some third-level students for their panels.

Three new inter-county managers will make their competitive bows with their new counties in Ulster this weekend, Antrim manager Frank Dawson, Derry manager Brian McIver and Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke.

O'Rourke's side take on St. Mary's in Clones with a fairly familiar looking line-up, although Paul Finlay will not be taking part as he is not expected to feature in the county's McKenna Cup campaign.

Antrim take on UUJ in Casement Park for Dawson's first assignment, while Derry's Brian McIver faces a very difficult opening fixture - away to Tyrone in Omagh.

The other game in the competition this weekend sees Cavan host Down in Section B.

LEINSTER

Sunday, January 6

Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup Round 1

Group A: Longford v Meath, Ballymahon, 2pm; Louth v UCD, Drogheda, 2pm
Group B: Carlow v Dublin, Carlow, 2pm; Wicklow v DCU, Greystones, 2pm
Group C: Offaly v Laois, Tullamore, 2pm; Westmeath v Athlone IT, Hogan Park, Moate, 2pm
Group D: Wexford v DIT, Kilanerin, 2pm; Kildare v Carlow IT, Newbridge, 2pm

There is a full programme of fixtures in Round 1 of the O’Byrne Cup on Sunday, with eight games in all being played across the four groups.

Champions DCU open the defence of their crown against Wicklow in Greystones, while a number of new managers will get to see their new players in competitive action for the first time.

New Meath manager Mick O’Dowd has named an experimental team for his side’s 2013 opener, with four newcomers handed a chance to impress, and Joe Sheridan starting in midfield. Longford will be without brothers Paul and David Barden due to injury.

The 2011 All-Ireland champions Dublin begin life under Jim Gavin with an away assignment in Carlow, who are under the stewardship of rookie Anthony Rainbow, while rivals Kildare host Carlow IT in Newbridge.

Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney learned this week that key forward James Kavanagh is unable to commit for the 2013 season, although Johnny Doyle is back for a 14th campaign in the Lilywhite jersey and is expected to start on Sunday.

There is sure to be a boost in the attendance at Hogan Park, Moate on Sunday, where one of Westmeath’s favourites sons, Dessie Dolan, will make his return to action against Athlone IT after 18 months out of the inter-county game. Gary Connaughton also returns between the posts after breaking his ankle last summer.

MUNSTER

Saturday, January 5

McGrath Cup Senior Football Preliminary Round
Kerry v IT Tralee, Fitzgerald Stadium, 2pm

Sunday, January 6

McGrath Cup Senior Football Preliminary Round
Clare v Limerick Institute of Technology, Miltown-Malbay, 2pm
Cork v Cork Institute of Technology, Cork IT GAA Grounds, 2pm

There is a slightly more restricted programme in Munster this weekend, with all three fixtures featuring clashes between third-level and inter-county teams.

All eyes will be on the meeting of Clare and LIT at Miltown-Malbay on Sunday afternoon, where 76-year-old Mick O’Dwyer will open the latest chapter in an amazing management career by taking charge of the Banner footballers in competitive action for the first time.

Champions Cork open 2013 with a local derby against CIT, with Damien Cahalane – the son of former All-Ireland winning defender Niall – given the chance to make an impression after a fine run of form in Castlehaven’s county championship success.

Minus most of his Dr. Crokes contingent, Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice has named an experimental side for his first game in charge, against IT Tralee in Killarney on Saturday, with a number of players promoted from last year’s U21 side in the absence of some of the Kingdom’s more established names.




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