Dublin at home for Walsh and O'Byrne Cup semi-finals
Jim Gavin’s side face Meath while Mattie Kenny’s men go up against Galway
Dublin hurling manager Mattie Kenny: his side enjoyed a narrow two-point win over Laois on Sunday. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Dublin will have home advantage for both their Walsh Cup and O’Byrne Cup semi-finals this weekend, the latter providing the first competitive outing of the new season for football manager Jim Gavin.
Dublin received a bye straight into the semi-finals of the football competition due to the fact the opening rounds were played in December, during which time Dublin were just coming off the collective training ban, as All-Ireland finalists and winners in 2018.
Old Leinster rivals Meath will provide the opposition at Parnell Park on Saturday evening (7pm), although it remains to be seen if Gavin will call on any of his first-choice panel, given the team will only this week be returning from their new year holiday, a Caribbean cruise, which has just finished off back in Miami.
The other O’Byrne Cup semi-final between Westmeath and Longford has also been fixed for earlier on Saturday at The Downs GAA grounds (2pm).
For new Dublin hurling manager Mattie Kenny, who has won all three of his opening games in the Walsh Cup, the semi-final date also at Parnell Park on Sunday (2pm) will be against his native county Galway. Dublin enjoyed a narrow two-point win over Laois on Sunday, on the back on earlier wins over Carlow and Offaly.
Kenny, who has used 33 players in those three games to date, has also invited back the Ballyboden St Enda’s contingent, the Dublin champions who went on to contest the Leinster final, losing to Ballyhale Shamrocks.
However, two club stalwarts in goalkeeper Gary Maguire and defender Shane Durkin have decided not to resume their county careers: Maguire (35) was an All Star goalkeeper in 2011 and has been part of the Dublin senior panel since 2004, while Durkin (31) briefly retired before, only to return last year under Pat Gilroy. Also retired since Gilroy stepped down after the one season were long-serving midfielder Johnny McCaffrey and Tipperary native Ryan O’Dwyer.
Also confirmed for Saturday is the Munster McGrath Cup football final between Clare and Cork, for Miltown-Malbay, 2pm, while on Sunday, the final of the Munster SHL between Clare and Tipperary will take place at the Gaelic Grounds (2pm).