Sunday 21 January 2018

Offaly boss Emmet McDonnell gives Joseph Maher start against Longford

Emmet McDonnell's Offaly are out to revive their season after a disappointing league campaign. Photo: Oliver McVeighs / SPORTSFILE
Emmet McDonnell's Offaly are out to revive their season after a disappointing league campaign. Photo: Oliver McVeighs / SPORTSFILE
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Offaly boss Emmet McDonnell has handed Ferbane's Joseph Maher his first championship start in Sunday's Leinster SFC clash with Longford.

Maher starts in the full-forward line alongside star turn Niall McNamee and Peter Cunningham, while Ruairi Allen and Niall Smith make up the midfield partnership for the Pearse Park clash.

McDonnell's men are out to revive their season after a disappointing league campaign that saw them pick up just a single point in Division 3 and suffer relegation to the bottom tier.

Longford are strong favourites to progress, having already recorded a five-point win over the Faithful men in the league earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Roscommon boss John Evans has made just one change to the side that saw off Cavan in their NFL Division 3 final for Sunday's Connacht championship opener against Leitrim.

Ronan Stack is handed his championship bow at half-forward, replacing St Brigid's clubmate Darragh Donnelly in the only alteration from the team that secured league honours.

Evans hands out two other debuts for the Dr Hyde Park clash, with wing-back Ciaran Cafferky and corner-forward Ciarain Murtagh named in the side.

The Kerry man resisted the urge to include some of the stars of the U-21 side that reached the All-Ireland final from the start, with attacker Diarmuid Murtagh amongst those held in reserve as Roscommon look to set up a provincial semi-final clash with Mayo.

Elsewhere, Louth manager Aidan O'Rourke has named one newcomer in the team for Saturday's trip to Mullingar to face Westmeath.

Patrick Reilly, a member of the county's U-21 side, gets his first start at half-forward, while captain Paddy Keenan starts at midfield for what is the third championship meeting between the sides since 2012.

However, there is no place in the starting side for rising star Ryan Burns. The Hunterstown man has already featured for the county minor and U-21 sides this year and was recently called up to the senior panel. He has been named on the bench.

Louth (SF v Westmeath) – N Gallagher; P Rath, D Finnegan, G O'Hare; J O'Brien, D Crilly, A Reid; P Keenan, M Fanning; P Reilly, B White, A McDonnell; D Byrne, S Lennon, D Maguire.

Offaly (SF v Longford) – A Mulhall; D Brady, D Hanlon, N Darby; B Darby, J Moloney, M Brazil; R Allen, N Smith; E Carroll, G Guilfoyle, A Sullivan; J Maher, N McNamee, P Cunningham.

Roscommon (SF v Leitrim) – D O'Malley; S McDermott, N Carty (capt), N Collins; D Keenan, N Daly, C Cafferkey; C Shine, K Higgins; D O'Gara, D Shine, R Stack; S Kilbride, C Cregg, C Murtagh.

Irish Independent

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