Begley axed from Laois opener after playing with club Parnells
The first controversy of the 2014 All-Ireland football championships has erupted in Laois amid reports that Colm Begley has been left off the team for the Leinster first-round clash with Wicklow tomorrow as punishment for playing with his club.
Begley lined out with Parnells in the Dublin championship on Wednesday evening and was not included on the Laois team announced on Thursday night. Reports emerged from Laois yesterday that he had been omitted by manager Tomás ó Flatharta as a disciplinary measure.
The 27-year-old Stradbally man, who played Australian Rules football with Brisbane Lions and St Kilda prior to returning home in 2009, joined Parnells the following year.
He has been an influential figure for Laois since then and after playing in most of the games in this year's league, he was regarded as a certainty for the championship team.
But he has been omitted from the starting line-up and attempts to ascertain the precise circumstances met with a wall of silence from Laois officials last night. However, informed sources insisted it arose from Begley playing with Parnells on Wednesday.
A row over team selection is the worst possible send-off for Laois as they head for Aughrim to take on a Wicklow team full of confidence. The winners take on Dublin in the Leinster quarter-final next month.
The biggest crowd-puller of the official launch weekend of this year's football championship is the Ulster first-round clash of Tyrone and Down in Omagh tomorrow (4.0). The game will launch RTE's 'Sunday Game' series.
Westmeath and Louth open the weekend's action in the Leinster first round in Mullingar this evening (7.0), while Longford play Offaly in Longford tomorrow (3.30).
In Connacht, Mayo will keep a close watch on tomorrow's action in Dr Hyde Park where Roscommon play Leitrim (3.0). The winners take on Mayo on June 8.