Tough opening games
Footballers and hurlers face tricky ties
Wicklow's footballers and hurlers face two difficult games to get their 2019 up and running this weekend.
John Evans will send his side out to face Laois in Bray this Saturday evening at 6pm in their third O'Byrne Cup game where a victory would be a welcome boost for a young side who have fallen away to Longford and at home to Louth in recent weeks.
Laois suffered defeats to Meath and Wexford in their opening two games, 3-11 to 0-6 against the Royals and 2-13 to 1-11 against Wexford in Enniscorthy just before Christmas, and will no doubt be looking to end their O'Byrne Cup campaign with a morale-boosting victory ahead of their national football league campaign opener with Down on January 26, the same evening that Wicklow make the journey to Waterford for their first joust.
Wicklow's opening game against Longford was full of positives despite the end result going against the Garden County, but the defeat to Louth in Bray will have taken some of the wind out of their sails. However, the availability of Dublin duo Oisin Manning and Davy Devereux may well come as a timely boost for the footballers with Darren Hayden and Mark Kenny unavailable for selection.
John Evans has given young players a major chance in the early stages of this season with Karl Kirwan, Chris O'Brien, Fintan O'Shea, Padraig O'Toole, Gearoid Murphy and Tom Maher all getting plenty of game time in the opening two games.
Laois will come to town fully expecting a win to get them back on track and will call on the likes of Colm Begley. Kevin Meaney, Eoin Lowry and Evan O'Carroll to get them across the line.
Eamonn Scallan takes his hurlers to Newbridge on Sunday for a 2pm throw-in against Kildare in their third game in the Kehoe Cup.
The Lilywhites were defeated in their opener when they took Meath to a penalty shoot-out but succumbed to a sharper Royal outfit on the night.
Wicklow have suffered defeats to Westmeath and Antrim in this competition but young players like Seanie Germaine, Jonathan O'Neill Jnr. and Bryan Kearney and others are getting valuable game time ahead of more Senior players returning from injury.
Sunday will be a tough ask for the hurlers but a win here would send them into semi-final against Antrim on January 13.
Defeat will see them focus on their opening national hurling league encounter with Warwickshire on January 26 at 2pm.