Wexford side can go one better
The Leinster League gets underway this weekend with action in Division 1A tomorrow followed by Divisions 1B, 2A and 2B getting their programmes started on Sunday.
There are eight teams in Divisions 1A, 1B and 2A with full home and away schedules while there are 12 teams in Division 2B, which will be run over two phases; two six-team Pools in Phase 1 with all teams in each Pool playing each other once, with the top three in each Pool going through to a home and away Division 2B in Phase 2 and the remaining six teams contesting a home and away Division 3.
As in past years the winner of Division 1A will contest the AIL Round Robin, where the winner gains entry into the Ulster Bank League next season and the runner-up plays off against the second last team in the AIL.
There will be automatic promotion for the winner of each of the remaining Leinster League divisions, with the bottom team in each division being relegated, while there will be play-offs at neutral venues between the second last team in the higher division and the second team in the division immediately below.
De La Salle Palmerston were relegated from the AIL last season when they lost a play-off against Dundalk and the Kilternan club open their campaign to try to regain that lofty status with a home fixture against Clondalkin tomorrow.
Both clubs have been impressive in pre-season action, and I fancy the home side might just edge a competitive opener.
Last season Enniscorthy came up just a point short of Dundalk and will be keen to go a step further this time around. Tomorrow they kick off away at Suttonians where they will be severely tested but the Wexford club should have enough to return home with the win.
Monkstown finished third last season after their promotion the previous season and they will hope to build on that foundation when they host last season's Division 1A champions Kilkenny in what will be another tight encounter.
The remaining game in the top flight will see the other promoted Gorey travel to Ashbourne, who successfully navigated their first season in Division 1A after a very slow start a year ago and whose experience should see them prevail tomorrow.
Division 1A promises to be a keenly contested league this time around and predicting a winner is fraught with danger but I'm going to stick my neck on the block and pick Enniscorthy to emerge triumphant when honours are handed out in early March.
Division 1B promises to equally competitive with Wicklow and Malahide, who were to the fore a year ago looking good in pre-season, while newly promoted North Kildare and Mullingar will be keen to make their mark, and relegated Cill Dara and Coolmine will want to bounce back straightaway.
Predicting a winner here is even more hazardous but I'm going to go with Wicklow, while Division 2A, which also looks wide open, might deliver redemption for relegated Newbridge.
Finally Division 2B has two sleeping giants in Athy and Roscrea, and if one of these can get their act together early they could win the league.
I'm going to side with Roscrea.
Needless to say some if not all of these predictions will come back to haunt me over the coming months.