Monday 23 October 2017

Dubs to open New Year with DCU clash

Cummins: Joining Kerry backroom team under Fintan O’Connor. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Cummins: Joining Kerry backroom team under Fintan O’Connor. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

Michael Verney

The only defeat which the back-to-back All-Ireland football champions Dublin suffered in 2016 was an O'Byrne Cup semi-final reversal to Longford and Jim Gavin's men will be keen to hit the ground running early in the New Year.

In their first outing since last October's epic All-Ireland SFC final replay victory over Mayo, the Dubs open their O'Byrne Cup campaign with a derby clash against DCU on January 8 in Parnell Park.

That will be preceded by Ger Cunningham's hurlers, minus the Leinster-winning Cuala contingent, welcoming Colm Bonnar's Carlow to Donnycarney in the Walsh Cup while All-Ireland hurling finalists Kilkenny are at home to DCU on Thursday, January 5.

With many of Brian Cody's senior squad on their team holiday at that time, Eddie Brennan's U-21 side are likely to deputise, as has been the case in recent years.

The two juiciest ties of the weekend may be the Saturday afternoon clash of Kildare and Longford in the O'Byrne Cup at Newbridge while 24 hours later Andy McEntee's first task as Meath boss is to welcome Wicklow to Páirc Tailteann.

Elsewhere, new Kerry senior hurling boss Fintan O'Connor has enlisted the services of Tipperary legend Brendan Cummins, who returns to the Kingdom as goal-keeping coach after a previous spell under Eamonn Kelly. Cummins left Kerry to link up with Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett in Laois but with Plunkett stepping aside, it opened the door for a second stint in Kerry, alongside former Waterford coach O'Connor.

The pair are good friends off the pitch and this year, O'Connor was in charge of the Ballybacon-Grange side that contested the Tipperary county junior 'A' hurling final.

Meanwhile, new Cavan boss Mattie McGleenan will have to plan without captain Gearóid McKiernan for the early stages of next year's NFL Division 1 campaign. Despite some demanding ties ahead, McGleenan will not rush his skipper back as he recovers from a knee injury.

Irish Independent

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