GAA Weekend Previews
Meath aiming to build on impressive first outing in O’Byrne Cup
Mattie Kenny: Dublin’s new hurling manager saw his charges defeat Carlow in the Walsh Cup in midweek and they take on Offaly at Parnell Park on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
O’Byrne Cup Round 2: Wexford v Laois, O’Kennedy Park, New Ross, 2pm; Westmeath v Offaly, Athlone, 2pm: Kildare v Carlow, Newbridge, 2pm; Wicklow v Louth, Bray, 3pm; Meath v Longford, Ashbourne, 5pm.
Round two already, and while the Dublin senior football team still aren’t allowed to resume collective training until this week (along with beaten All-Ireland finalists Tyrone), the chance to get a further grip on the new proposed football rule changes also continues.
Wexford manager Paul McLoughlin, in his second season in charge, was among those to declare himself reasonably satisfied with the proposed changes, helped by the fact his team enjoyed a 0-16 to 1-6 win over Louth in the first round.
“There was more kick-passing,” he noted, “but quite a lot of them came after two or three handpasses, so lads were just buying back the handpasses, and that was fairly obvious” – which sounded like an ominous summation.
McLoughlin rejigs his team for the meeting with Laois, with Mark O’Neill coming into the defence at full-back and Sean Barden named at left half-back.
Laois manager John Sugrue witnessed a disappointing 3-11 to 0-6 opening defeat to Meath, and makes more wholesale changes, 12 in total, with former captain and midfielder Kevin Meaney back on board, having retired early last year. There is also a first senior start for Evan Lowry at corner-forward.
Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien is also looking for his first win of the campaign, after the defeat to Westmeath last Sunday, with a visit to Newbridge to play Kildare, while Westmeath host Offaly at Athlone.
John Evans’s Wicklow team fell by just a point to Longford in round one, and should get the better of Louth in Bray, while Meath, big winners over Laois, are at home to Longford, less than 24 hours before playing Dublin in the Sean Cox fundraiser.
McKenna Cup round 1: Fermanagh v UU, Derrygonnelly, 1pm:
A first chance for the Ulster counties to get a taste of the proposed football rule changes, which were greeted with mostly healthy scepticism in the O’Byrne Cup last weekend.
Fermanagh Rory Gallagher has recalled both Richard O’Callaghan and Ciarán Flaherty for this campaign, neither of whom played under him previously. Armagh also host St Mary’s at Crossmaglen, the Derry-Tyrone tie has been put back until next Thursday evening.
McKenna Cup Round 1: Armagh v St Marys’, Crossmaglen, 1pm
Walsh Cup round 2: Dublin v Offaly, Parnell Park, 2pm; Laois v Carlow, O’Moore Park, 2pm
Mattie Kenny enjoyed a winning start to his new position as Dublin hurling manager by beating Carlow on Tuesday evening, and the expectation is he will continue that against Offaly at Parnell Park. Laois, under the management of former Kilkenny star Eddie Brennan, got the better of Offaly last Sunday, and will also fancy another win against Carlow at O’Moore Park.
Sean Cox Fundraiser SF: Meath v Dublin, Páirc Tailteann, 1.30pm
Both Jim Gavin and Meath manager Andy McEntee intend on putting out as many intercounty players as possible for this fundraising challenge, all proceeds of which will go to the Sean Cox Rehabilitation Trust. The Meath-Dublin rivalry may have softened in recent years, but still neither team likes to lose to the other.
The 53-year-old Cox was the victim an unprovoked attack outside Anfield before Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final clash with AS Roma last April, resulting in life-changing injuries. The trust has been established to help give the father-of-three the care and rehabilitation needed for him to have some quality of life into the future. Patrons are asked also to buy tickets in advance of the game at gaa.tickets.ie – a special souvenir programme also being produced for the day