(All throw-ins 2.0 Sunday unless stated)
Dr McKenna Cup
An eyebrow-raiser from the opening week of pre-season games has been the woeful under-performance of the college sides. With their big staging post for the year imminent – the first Sigerson games are three weeks away – you'd have expected more from them. Certainly in Ulster, where UUJ were disappointing against Monaghan last weekend. Given that they went on a four-day training camp to Barcelona before Christmas, it was odd to see them lapped by Malachy O'Rourke's side.
They face Cavan in Breffni Park on Saturday (7.30), with Matty Donnelly and Kieran Hughes available again.
Elsewhere, Monaghan are home for the second week in a row, playing Down in Clones, while Donegal play Queen’s in Ballybofey and Fermanagh welcome Derry to Enniskillen.
Tyrone can build on last week’s win over Armagh when they play St Mary’s in Omagh and Armagh travel to Creggan to face Antrim.
The last round of McKenna Cup games will be played on Wednesday, with throw-in for all games set for 8pm.
The Leinster pre-season tournament has had a bit of life to it this time around, thanks in the main to the vast array of clean slates and new managers armed with chalk. Offaly, Wexford and Westmeath have all turned in decent results over the past week. With Dublin through out of their group and DIT only in need of a draw against Carlow IT to join them, deciding the semi-final line-up comes down to two games – Meath v DCU in Navan on Saturday (7.00pm) and Kildare v UCD in Newbridge.
Laois play Dublin in Portarlington, Offaly host Maynooth University in Tullamore, Carlow play Louth at Dr Cullen Park (2.15) and Longford v Westmeath goes ahead at Ballymahon. Wexford host Wicklow in Gorey and Carlow IT see out their campaign at home to DIT.
Cork run up a cricket score one weekend, Kerry field an under-21 side the next. This is pre-season stuff alright. Kerry boss for the day Darragh Ó Sé says he won't even be sneaking Tommy Walsh in under cover of darkness against IT Tralee.
Otherwise, the return of the other Munster counties to McGrath Cup action is worth a look. Tipperary were runners-up two years in a row before their defection last year so their clash with Cork in Clonmel could be interesting. Elsewhere, Limerick play UCC in Rathkeale and Waterford play CIT in Clashmore.
Connacht FBD League Surely the Leitrim FBD League tanker runs aground soon, no? Having completed back-to-back titles, they started their bid for a third with a 16-point hammering of GMIT last weekend. Maybe they will have their cough softened for them against Galway in Mohill but we’ve been saying that for three seasons in the FBD League now and it hasn’t happened yet. That game is likely to be the group decider, with GMIT up against Sligo in Tubbercurry.
In the other group, Mayo face Sligo IT in Ballina and Roscommon go up against NUIG in Ballyforan, the high likelihood being that the two county sides will meet next Sunday to decide who goes into the final.
Waterford Crystal Cup
Ungodly and all as it is to be hurling at this time of year and on this type of ground, there should be a reasonable game between Cork and UL at the Cork Institute of Technology on Saturday (2.0). Jimmy Barry-Murphy has picked a young side with only Damien Cahalane, Christopher Joyce and Luke O'Farrell among the more heralded names.
Waterford play LIT in Carriganore tomorrow, beginning life after a slew of retirements. Having lost Stephen Molumphy, Seamus Prendergast, Liam Lawlor, Jamie Nagle and Richie Foley, manager Derek McGrath has no choice but to nurse through some of the minors who won an All-Ireland in 2013
With the bigger guns of Leinster spared action just yet, Carlow play NUIG in Dr Cullen Park (12.30), Antrim play DIT at St Paul's, Laois face UCD in Abbeyleix and the clash of Westmeath and Offaly goes ahead in Mullingar.
– Malachy Clerkin