Friday 24 November 2017

Leinster - county-by-county

Martin Brehany

Carlow

All-Ireland titles: 0

Leinster titles: 1 (1944)

Manager: Luke Dempsey (3rd season)

Captain: Shane Redmond

Last year: Wicklow 3-13, Carlow 0-12 (Leinster 1st round); Derry 1-18, Carlow 2-9 (round two qualifier).

2011 NFL: 5th Div 4 (W4, D1, L3).

Last big championship achievement: 1944 -- Leinster champions.

Key man: Thomas Walsh. Carlow need him to return to the heights reached before his sojourn in Wicklow.

Who could make a name for himself? Darragh Foley. A fine young midfielder with a good scoring record.

Fantasy signing: Ryan McMenamin (Tyrone). His gritty presence would be a big boost to the defence.

Prospects: They were in with a chance of promotion to Division 3 right up to the last round of games but lost heavily to Longford. Still, they did have some good results and while they will be outsiders against Louth, they ran the Wee County to two points in the 2009 Leinster championship.

Odds: Leinster 80/1; All-Ireland 1000/1.

First game: v Louth, Portlaoise, Sunday, June 12.

Dublin

All-Ireland titles: 22 (1995)

Leinster titles: 49 (2009)

Manager: Pat Gilroy (3rd season)

Captain: TBC

Last year: Dublin 2-16, Wexford 0-15 (aet); Meath 5-9, Dublin 0-13 (Leinster semi-final); Dublin 1-21, Tipperary 1-13; Dublin 0-14, Armagh 0-11; Dublin 2-14, Louth 0-13; Dublin 1-15, Tyrone 0-13; Cork 1-15, Dublin 1-14 (All-Ireland semi-final).

2011 NFL: Runners-up Div 1 (W6, D1, L0, then lost final to Cork 0-21 to 2-14).

Last big championship achievement: 2010 All-Ireland semi-finalists.

Key man: Bernard Brogan. He will have a hand -- either directly or indirectly -- in most Dublin scores.

Who could make a name for himself? Paul Brogan. Did well at full-back in the League and is still improving. Would he make an even better centre-half?

Fantasy signing? Tomas O Se (Kerry). Nobody does half-back play better, striking the right balance between defence and attack -- a line which remains blurred for some Dublin defenders.

Prospects: They have made huge progress since losing to Meath last year and even allowing for the fade-out against Cork in the League final, they will be the better for the overall campaign. They look by far the best in the Leinster and will be serious contenders for All-Ireland glory.

Odds: Leinster 5/4; All-Ireland 4/1.

First game: v Longford/Laois, Croke Park, Sunday, June 5.

Kildare

All-Ireland titles: 4 (1928)

Leinster titles: 13 (2000)

Manager: Kieran McGeeney (4th season)

Captain: John Doyle

Last year: Louth 1-22, Kildare 1-16 (Leinster quarter-final); Kildare 0-15, Antrim 0-15 (aet); Kildare 1-15, Antrim 0-9 (replay); Kildare 1-12, Leitrim 0-6; Kildare 2-17, Derry 1-9; Kildare 1-15, Monaghan 1-11; Kildare 2-17, Meath 1-12; Down 1-16, Kildare 1-14 (All-Ireland semi-final).

2011 NFL: 5th Div 2 (W4, D1, L2).

Last big championship achievement: 2010 All-Ireland semi-finalists.

Key man: Eamonn Callaghan. His versatility is invaluable.

Who could make a name for himself? Fionn Dowling. The Suncroft youngster is on the way up.

Fantasy signing: Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone). His capacity to operate as a midfielder/half-forward would greatly strengthen an area in need of improvement.

Prospects: A top-eight championship side in 2008 and '09, they made it to the top four last year, via the qualifiers. It's probably as high as they will go. Well organised and are gritty battlers, but they don't have enough star quality to last the All-Ireland course.

Odds: Leinster 4/1; All-Ireland 14/1.

First game: v Wicklow, Portlaoise, Sunday, May 22.

Laois

All-Ireland titles: 0

Leinster titles: 6 (2003)

Manager: Justin McNulty (1st season)

Captain: Colm Begley

Last year: Meath 2-13, Laois 1-16 (aet); Meath 2-14, Laois 0-10 (Leinster quarter-final); Tipperary 0-13, Laois 0-12 (round one qualifier).

2011 NFL: Runners-up Div 2 (W5, L2, then lost final to Donegal 2-11 to 0-16). Promoted.

Last big championship achievement: 2003 Leinster champions.

Key man: Begley. His Australian Rules experience will help him bring the required leadership to a group that needs to make progress after slipping back in recent championships.

Who could make a name for himself? Mark Timmons. An improving defender.

Fantasy signing: Kieran Donaghy (Kerry). They already have a Kerryman in Billy Sheehan, but the Donaghy version would greatly increase their options in front of goal.

Prospects: Justin McNulty has made an excellent start, steering Laois to promotion in a strong division. However, Laois remain a work in progress and while they will probably beat Longford in the first round, it's unlikely they will oust Dublin. However, they could have a good run in the qualifiers.

Odds: Leinster 12/1: All-Ireland 66/1.

First game: v Longford, Portlaoise, Sunday, May 22.

Longford

All-Ireland titles: 0

Leinster titles: 1 (1968)

Manager: Glenn Ryan (3rd season)

Captain: Paul Barden

Last year: Louth 1-11, Longford 1-7 (Leinster 1st round); Longford 1-12, Mayo 0-14; Down 1-14, Longford 1-10 (round two qualifier).

2011 NFL: Div 4 champions (W5, D2, L1, then beat Roscommon 2-11 to 1-8 in final). Promoted.

Last big championship achievement: 1968 Leinster champions.

Ken man: Brian Kavanagh. Still the man opposition talk about when preparing to play Longford.

Who could make a name for himself? JJ Matthews. One of the promising U-21 brigade who reached this year's Leinster final.

Fantasy signing: Nicholas Murphy (Cork). Still a mighty midfield presence. His vast experience would be a big help.

Prospects: They achieved their first goal of the year by being promoted to Division 3 but face a tough championship opener away to Laois. They could be relying on favourable qualifier draws.

Odds: Leinster 50/1; All-Ireland 300/1.

First game: v Laois, Portlaoise, Sunday, May 22.

Louth

All-Ireland titles: 3 (1957)

Leinster titles: 8 (1957)

Manager: Peter Fitzpatrick (2nd season)

Captain: Paddy Keenan

Last year: Louth 1-11, Longford 1-7; Louth 1-22, Kildare 1-16; Louth 1-15, Westmeath 2-10; Meath 1-12, Louth 1-10 (Leinster final); Dublin 2-14 Louth 0-13 (round four qualifier).

2011 NFL: Div 3 champions. (W4, L3, then beat Westmeath 1-15 to 0-13 in final). Promoted.

Last big championship achievement: 1957 All-Ireland champions.

Key man: Keenan. It's a role he has filled for quite a few years but is still the main influence.

Who could make a name for himself? Derek Maguire. An attacker on the rise.

Fantasy signing: Padraic Joyce (Galway). His vision would greatly enhance the Louth attack.

Prospects: On the easier side of the Leinster draw, they will fancy their chances of reaching the final again. But there's very little between Louth, Wexford, Offaly and Westmeath.

Odds: Leinster 9/1; All-Ireland 100/1.

First game: v Carlow, Portlaoise, Sunday, June 12.

Meath

All-Ireland titles: 7 (1999)

Leinster titles: 21 (2010)

Manager: Seamus McEnaney (1st season)

Captain: Seamus Kenny

Last year: Meath 2-13, Laois 1-16 (aet); Meath 2-14, Laois 0-10; Meath 5-9, Dublin 0-13; Meath 1-12, Louth 1-10 (Leinster final); Kildare 2-17, Meath 1-12 (All-Ireland quarter-final).

2011 NFL: 6th Div 2 (W1, D1, L5).

Last big championship achievement: Reigning Leinster champions.

Key man: Graham Reilly. If a transfer market applied in GAA, he would be the most wanted Meath player.

Who could make a name for himself? Mark O'Sullivan. The Moynalvey wing-back appears to have a bright future.

Fantasy signing: Marc O Se (Kerry). Every defence could do with a Marc O Se.

Prospects: Who knows? Meath are one of the great unsolved puzzles of modern-day football. Capable of producing dazzling championship displays, they lack consistency and can be woefully inept. Lucky to survive in Division 2, they will need a huge improvement to make any impression this summer. Being Meath, the scope is there for that uplift.

Odds: Leinster 9/2; All-Ireland 20/1.

First game: v Kildare/Wicklow, Croke Park, Sunday, June 5.

Offaly

All-Ireland titles: 3 (1982)

Leinster titles: 10 (1997)

Manager: Tom Cribbin (3rd season)

Captain: Niall McNamee

Last year: Meath 1-20, Offaly 2-7 (Leinster 1st round); Offaly 2-18 Clare 1-18 (aet); Offaly 0-15, Waterford 0-10; Down 1-12, Offaly 1-10 (round three qualifier).

2011 NFL: 4th Div 3 (W4, L3).

Last big championship achievement: 1997 -- Leinster champions.

Key man: Niall McNamee (left). Very much the main man in attack.

Who could make a name for himself? Anton Sullivan. McNamee needs other attackers to deflect some of the attention away from him. His 20-year-old Rhode colleague could do that.

Fantasy signing: Michael Murphy (Donegal). Imagine him working alongside McNamee.

Prospects: They won three away games in Division 3 but came up short on scoring difference in the race for promotion. One of four who will fancy themselves to exploit the easier side of the Leinster draw.

Odds: Leinster 20/1; All-Ireland 200/1.

First game: v Wexford, Tullamore, Saturday, May 28.

Westmeath

All-Ireland titles: 0

Leinster titles: 1 (2004)

Manager: Pat Flanagan (2nd season)

Captain: Denis Glennon

Last year: Westmeath 0-15, Wicklow 1-11; Louth 1-15, Westmeath 2-10 (Leinster semi-final); Derry 0-13, Westmeath 1-7 (round two qualifier).

2011 NFL: Runners-up Div 3 (W4, D1, L2, then lost final to Louth, 1-15 to 0-13). Promoted.

Last big championship achievement: 2004 -- Leinster champions.

Key man: Denis Glennon. This is his chance to assert himself as captain and leader of the attack.

Who could make a name for himself? Conor Lynam. Did well in the half-forward line in the League.

Fantasy signing: Michael Meehan (Galway). Westmeath scored just five goals in eight League games. Meehan would improve that strike-rate.

Prospects: They arrested the steep decline of the previous two years, albeit in Division 3, winning promotion. On the easier side of the Leinster draw, but will need to improve to make it count.

Odds: Leinster 16/1; All-Ireland 100/1.

First game: v Wexford/Offaly, Wexford Park or Mullingar, Sunday, June 12.

Wexford

All-Ireland titles: 5 (1918)

Leinster titles: 10 (1945)

Manager: Jason Ryan (4th season)

Captain: David Murphy

Last year: Dublin 2-16, Wexford 0-15 (Leinster quarter-final); Wexford 4-22, London 0-9; Wexford 1-11, Galway 0-13; Cork 0-12, Wexford 0-5 (round thee qualifier).

2011 NFL: 3rd Div 3 (W4, L3).

Last big championship achievement: 2008 All-Ireland semi-finalists.

Key man: Anthony Masterson. There's always one goalkeeper who makes a big impact. Could be him.

Who could make a name for himself? Liam Og McGovern. From the U-21 team that won Leinster for the first time, he's a fine prospect.

Fantasy signing: Colm Cooper (Kerry). Wexford scored only two goals in their last six League games -- hence the need for a top-line poacher.

Prospects: Missed promotion on scoring difference for a second successive year but they can have no complaints -- averaged just over 12 points per game in their last six outings after hitting Waterford for 4-11 on opening day. If they can improve their strike-rate, they will be in the mix for a Leinster final place.

Odds: Leinster 14/1; All-Ireland 200/1.

First game: v Offaly, Tullamore, Saturday, May 28.

Wicklow

All-Ireland titles: 0

Leinster titles: 0

Manager: Mick O'Dwyer (5th season)

Captain: Leighton Glynn

Last year: Wicklow 3-13, Carlow 0-12; Westmeath 0-15, Wicklow 1-11 (Leinster quarter-final); Cavan 0-15, Wicklow 2-8 (round one qualifier).

2011 NFL: 3rd Div 4 (W3, D4, L1).

Last big championship achievement: 2010 -- 4th round qualifiers.

Key man: Seanie Furlong. Give him enough ball and he'll upset any full-back line.

Who could make a name for himself? Austin O'Malley. The experienced Mayo man is an important addition in attack.

Fantasy signing: Michael Shields (Cork). Wicklow need more defensive security; besides it would give Micko a chance to work with a Corkman!

Prospects: Can they shock Kildare as they did in 2008? Yes. Will they? Unlikely. Wicklow have some very good forwards but aren't as well off elsewhere.

Odds: Leinster 50/1; All-Ireland 250/1.

First game: v Kildare, Portlaoise, Sunday, May 22.

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