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Weekend GAA fixtures


Dr McKenna Cup

UUJ v Fermanagh, 7.0, Brewster

Park, P Hughes

UUJ's latest acquisition, Conor Mortimer, misses out through injury, but they could prevail against a new-look Fermanagh side as Erne boss John O'Neill has named a host of new faces in his panel.

Verdict: UUJ

Cavan v Queen's, 7.0, Breffni Park

(3G pitch), E McHugh

Another new dawn for Cavan under the Val Andrews/Terry Hyland ticket, but Queen's bring a talented squad to Breffni Park, including Derry brothers Charlie and James Kielt.

Verdict: Queen's

St Mary's v Down, 7.0, Newry, D Helferty

A first run-out for All-Ireland runners-up Down since their September defeat, but they face their own trainer Paddy Tally in this one as he manages the college side. He can call on Peter Harte, who was a regular for Tyrone last year.

Verdict: Down

O'Byrne Cup

(2.0 unless stated)

(Extra-time if necessary)

Westmeath v Dublin, Mullingar (St Loman's), F Kelly (Longford)

Westmeath are without Donal O'Donoghue, John Smyth, Martin Flanagan, John Keane, Damien Healy and Derek Heavin. Dublin's early morning sessions have already started and they have much to build on from last year, despite the loss of Conal Keaney to the hurlers.

Verdict: Dublin

Wexford v DIT, Enniscorthy,

F Barry (Kildare)

College sides have a distinct edge in preparations over county sides at this time of year and Wexford aren't helped by PJ Banville's impending move to Australia.

Verdict: Wexford

Kildare v Longford, Newbridge,

N Ward (Westmeath)

Glenn Ryan returns for another season with Longford with a memorable win over Mayo to build on. Kieran McGeeney is without Dermot Earley until the summer.

Verdict: Kildare

Offaly v DCU, Tullamore,

D Gough (Meath)

Tom Cribbin's Offaly improved almost by the game in last year's championship, but DCU boast an embarrassment of riches and are Sigerson champions.

Verdict: DCU

Meath v UCD, Navan, P Kneel (Louth)

The first glimpse of Seamus McEnaney's Meath should draw a decent crowd. Better known as a goalkeeper, Paddy O'Rourke will get a chance outfield, but UCD are likely to be well drilled. They host the Sigerson in this, the 100th year of the competition. The Belfield outfit remain the most successful college in the country, but haven't won the competition since 1996.

Verdict: Meath

Carlow v Kilkenny, Carlow,

B Hickey (Kildare)

Kilkenny soldier on, while in Brendan Murphy and Tommy Walsh, Luke Dempsey boasts one of the better midfield partnerships around.

Verdict: Carlow

Louth v Athlone IT, Drogheda,

G McCormack (Dublin)

Martin McCabe's Athlone IT face a difficult trip to Drogheda, but, crucially, Louth are without classy midfielder Brian White for the season, as he jets off to Australia on Monday.

Verdict: Louth

Laois v Wicklow, Portlaoise,

J Curley (Meath)

Wicklow manager Mick O'Dwyer returns to his old stomping ground in Portlaoise, where Justin McNulty has mixed the old with the new, recalling Colm Parkinson and Donie Brennan, while Rory Bracken and Michael Finlay are among the new faces who might feature.

Verdict: Laois

Kehoe Cup

(Extra-time if necessary)

Fingal v Trinity College, Portmarnock, 2.0, K Brady (Louth)

Verdict: Fingal

Dr McKenna Cup

(2.0 unless stated)

Tyrone v Donegal, Omagh,

J McQuillan (Cavan)

Predictably, Jim McGuinness has named eight new faces for this campaign, while he has also handed the captaincy to talisman Michael Murphy. Donegal have won the last two McKenna Cups, and Tyrone have lost the services of Raymond Mulgrew, who has opted out of the squad.

Verdict: Tyrone

Derry v Monaghan, Celtic Park,

J White (Donegal)

John Brennan takes charge of Derry for the first time, while Eamonn McEneaney returns to the Monaghan hot seat for a second spell. The Farney men are riddled with injuries to such key players as Stephen Gollogly, Shane Duffy and Eoin Lennon. Derry have persuaded Paddy Bradley, Kevin McCloy and Enda Muldoon back for another year.

Verdict: Derry

Armagh v Antrim, Crossmaglen,

M Sludden (Tyrone)

A game that will be noted for the return of Martin Sludden to inter-county refereeing for the first time since last year's controversial Leinster final. It will feature a number of the players who faced off at the same venue when Crossmaglen beat St Gall's in a fiery Ulster club encounter.

Verdict: Armagh

McGrath Cup

(2.0 unless stated)

(Extra-time if necessary)

Cork v WIT, Pairc Ui Rinn,

B Tyrrell (Tipperary)

Alan O'Connor and Kevin McMahon are the only players from Cork's All-Ireland winners who'll see action in this competition as the team is currently abroad on a holiday. Thus, they'll be calling on many of the U-21s instead. Waterford IT may be a hurling stronghold, but they have fielded Meath's Chris O'Connor and Offaly's Ross Brady in recent years.

Verdict: Cork

Kerry v IT Tralee, Austin Stack Park,

R Maloney (Limerick)

Kerry have made no secret that they'll be using this competition to experiment, but they won't want to be too experimental here as the IT side includes Barry John Keane (pictured below) and Michael Brennan, Clare's Kevin Hartnett and Limerick's Eoin Ryan.

Verdict: Kerry

Clare v UCC, Cooraclare,

P O'Sullivan (Cork)

Banner boss Michael McDermott is endeavouring to bring in new players under the 'parentage rule' through Central Council this weekend, but has to start without them and the injured David Tubridy and Ger Quinlan (honeymoon), while UCC have already had a good league run under their belt.

Verdict: UCC

Tipperary v UL, Sean Treacy Park

Tipperary hit the ground running this time last year and will be expected to do so again against a college side whose strength traditionally has been on the hurling side.

Verdict: Tipperary

FBD League

(2.0 unless stated)

Sligo v Galway, Enniscrone

Tomas O Flatharta is without a number of regulars for his debut as Galway senior boss, so newcomers like Padraig Lally and Alan Glynn will be looking to stake a claim. Sligo will be similarly experimental, but have regained Conor Davey and Brendan Egan this season and they both start. Kevin Walsh will use this competition to run the rule over All-Ireland winning juniors like David May, David Rooney and Mark Quinn.

Verdict: Sligo

Leitrim v Mayo, Ballinamore

New Mayo boss James Horan is starting out with a real mix of regulars and newbies. Austin O'Malley and Aidan Campbell are both back after long absences, while Cathal Hallinan and Michael Nestor of Ballintubber are among those give a chance to impress. Leitrim have lost six players to the colleges and will also be without two key men -- Michael Foley (studies) and David O'Connor (London) -- in the NFL, though they hope to have Foley back later.

Verdict: Mayo

Roscommon v GMIT, Ballyforan

Roscommon boss Fergal O'Donnell, who has Seamus O'Neill and Conor Devaney back this season, is without nearly 18 players at present because of injuries, club (St Brigid's) and college commitments. GMIT include two inter-county players in Colm O'Neill and Daniel Rogers.

Verdict: Roscommon

NUIG v IT Sligo, Dangan

These two are bolstered by a lot of big-name inter-county players. NUIG have Mayo's Alan Dillon and Peadar Gardiner as well as Sligo's Stephen Gilmartin, while Sligo IT have Galway's Adrian Faherty, Sligo's Ken Sweeney and Leitrim's top club player last year Adrian Croal. Either of these sides could give any team a good run for their money.

Verdict: NUIG

Irish Independent