Bitter injury blow for Casey
New Louth boss Wayne Kierans got an early taste of the ups and downs of inter-county management last weekend when returning Aussie Rules star Ciaran Byrne suffered a broken leg in St Mochta's Intermediate Championship victory on Sunday afternoon.
Less than 24 hours before Carlton released an official statement confirming his departure from the AFL outfit, the former Louth attacker had to leave The Grove in an ambulance following an horrific injury. Byrne had only entered the fray as a half-time substitute 11 minutes earlier and kicked a fine point before an accidental clash cut short his involvement in a game his club St Mochta's eventually won by 1-15 to 1-13.
In a prepared statement released on Monday Carlton officials thanked Byrne for his services: 'Carlton Football Club wishes to thank Ciaran Byrne for his services to the club, after the 23-year-old decided to return to his homeland of Ireland. 'The young defender made the decision to retire from AFL football and part ways with the Club on October 7, after a number of discussions over the past two weeks and throughout the course of the year.
'Riddled by injury, including rupturing his ACL halfway through the 2016 season, Byrne managed 22 senior games since arriving at Ikon Park as a Category B Rookie via the 2014 AFL Rookie Draft.' Carlton's loss was soon to be Wayne Kierans' gain, but Byrne faces a lengthy road back to full health and would seem unlikely to play any part in Louth's Division 3 league campaign. Kierans learned Louth's Leinster Championship opponents last week following the provincial draws on RTE.
The Reds will face Wexford in the opening round and despite being drawn out first, the clash is likely to be at a neutral venue and possibly as part of a double header. The 'prize' up for grabs is a quarter-final date with Dublin, which would be Louth's first clash with the Leinster kingpins since a 2-22 to 0-12 defeat at Croke Park in 2012. Meath are on the opposite side of the draw so a clash with new Royals coach and former Louth selector Colm Nally would appear highly unlikely for the moment. However, former Mayo manager John Maughan is set to lock horns with the Royals once more. The Crossmolina native was recently appointed boss of Offaly and the Faithful County were paired against the Royals in the opening round.
Maughan was in charge of his native county when beaten by Meath in the infamous 1996 All-Ireland final replay. Meath haven't met Offaly in the provincial campaign since they last won the title back in 2010. The Royals prevailed on a scoreline of 1-20 to 2-7, with Cian Ward taking the scoring honours with eight points. If Meath overcome the opening hurdle they meet Carlow in a quarter final clash and the winners of that tie have Westmeath or Laois in a semi-final pairing. In the Nicky Rackard Cup Louth have been drawn in a group with Mayo, Sligo and Tyrone, while Meath will face London, Kiladre and Roscommon in the Christy Ring Cup.