Preview: Weekend's Gaelic Football action
Saturday January 5
Bord Na Mona O'Byrne Cup
Wexford v Meath, Enniscorthy, 2pm
Carlow v Offaly, Netwatch Cullen Park, 2pm
Longford v Louth, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 2pm
Wicklow v Laois, Bray Emmetts, 6pm
Meath's impressive win over Laois was an encouraging start to the campaign.
Andy McEntee has spoken about the need to deliver in Division Two of the Allianz Football League which remains the brief for the spring.
Before that, though, the Royals will prepare diligently with Mickey Newman's availability an undoubted boost.
The Sean Cox Fundraiser match win against Dublin at Pairc Tailteann also supplied some encouragement with Newman and Graham Reilly impressing for Meath.
A young Wexford team endured some tough moments in 2018, but their wins over Louth and Laois offers hope. Robert Frayne and Niall Hughes pocketed goals when Wexford overcame Laois.
Longford, with Robbie Smyth sharp, just about edged out Wicklow and Meath so they will be hoping to shine under Padraic Davis' stewardship. Smyth kicked 0-11 during those two victories for the midlanders, who can earn a place in the penultimate round by beating Louth at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park. The two counties collide again on the opening weekend of the Allianz Football League in Division Three.
Carlow and Offaly, who are also set to meet in Division Three on February 24, clash at Netwatch Cullen Park, while Wicklow face Laois in Bray.
Sunday January 6
Connacht FBD League
Leitrim v Mayo, Pairc Sean MacDiarmada, 1.30pm
James Horan's return as Mayo boss means a healthy attendance is expected at Pairc Sean MacDiarmada.
Leitrim, also under new manager Terry Hyland, are hoping to be competitive in Division Four of the Allianz League so this offers an ideal opportunity for the locals.
Horan has been impressed with how some of the green and red's emerging talent have fared on the training field so it will be interesting to monitor who is afforded some game time in the west.
Mayo will be without Chris Barrett, Diarmuid O'Connor, and the injured Cillian O'Connor, Ryan O'Donoghue, Cian Hanley, and Tom Parsons.
Whoever emerges with a win from Carrick will face Galway at the semi-final stage on January 13.
McGrath Cup Semi-Finals
Waterford v Clare, Ballinacourty, 1pm
Limerick v Cork, Rathkeale, 2pm
Benji Whelan is hopeful about making an impact with Waterford and his first match is against Clare.
Colm Collins' backroom team now includes the well regarded Brian Carson, who turned UL into a competitive Sigerson Cup outfit in recent years.
Making a good start against Donegal in Division Two of the Allianz Football League is Clare's chief objective with Collins expected to carry out some experiments ahead of that Cusack Park fixture.
St Finbarr's Ian Maguire captains Cork against Limerick, who welcome Iain Corbett back to the fold.
Corbett was working abroad last year, but is named to start Sunday's game at centrefield, while Seamus O'Carroll carries a threat in attack.
Holders Cork include eight of the team that started when they were comprehensively defeated by Tyrone in an All Ireland Senior Football Championship Round Four Qualifier last July.
Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup
Cavan v Queens University, Ballyconnell, 1.30pm
Down v Donegal, Pairc Esler, 1.30pm
Monaghan v St Mary's, Clones, 1.30pm
Antrim v Armagh, Gleanavy, 1.30pm
Fermanagh v Derry, Brewster Park, 1.30pm
Tyrone v Ulster University, Healy Park, 1.30pm
Having shaded a tight encounter against Down, Mickey Graham's Cavan will be hoping to build on that satisfactory start.
Conor Madden's last gasp point sealed victory for Cavan, who face Galway in their Allianz Football League Division One opener on January 27 at Pearse Stadium.
Down's meeting with Donegal promises to be an interesting encounter.
Declan Bonner's charges cruised to a convincing win over Queens University last Sunday.
Hugh McFadden, Michael Langan, and Ciaran Thompson all made solid contributions for the Ulster champions.
Down, with Paddy Tally in charge, were spirited against Cavan, but still suffered a narrow defeat.
Monaghan's mix of youth and experience proved too strong for Antrim on Saturday and they will be anxious to record another home win against St Mary's.
Armagh enjoyed a facile success over St Mary's before Christmas and Kieran McGeeney's charges now face the Saffrons.
Derry lost out to Tyrone on December 20 and Damian McErlain's outfit will be striving to respond against Fermanagh, who divided the spoils with Ulster University.
Tyrone, who have always shown a real appetite for this competition under Mickey Harte, introduced some exciting newcomers including Darragh Canavan before Christmas, while Kyle Coney also returned to action.
Bord Na Mona O'Byrne Cup
Westmeath v Kildare, The Downs, 2pm
Kildare's triumph over Offaly was prompted by an effective display from the exciting Jimmy Hyland.
Cian O'Neill will trust that the promising forward can continue to develop in the coming weeks and months.
Jack Cooney's Westmeath drew with Offaly and the midlanders know that a demanding assignment awaits against the Lilywhites.