The Bord Na Mona Walsh Cup gets underway this weekend, with UCD’s trip to Carlow on Friday Night signalling the beginning of a long season of inter county hurling.
While the Championship is still a long way away it is never too soon for squad members to impress their county selectors.
Big guns Kilkenny, Galway and of course last year’s champions Dublin aren’t in action until next week meaning the spotlight will shine on some other match ups in the opening week’s fixtures.
On Saturday new manager Brendan Fennelly will be on the touchline for his competitive outing when his side Laois side take on DIT in Rathdowney. The Kilkenny native is missing a number of key players for the game, with Mick McEvoy the latest player unavailable for selection. The Clough-Ballacolla man is currently studying in Scotland and unavailable for selection.
Fennelly will be casting his eye over newcomers Sean Bourke, Brian Smith, Mick Bermingham, Brian Galvin and John Gaughan who will be hoping to impress ahead of the league.
NUIG travel to Enniscorthy to face a developmental Wexford side in their first round clash, the model county opting to use the Walsh Cup to focus on up and coming players. U21 manager Liam Dunne is taking charge of the side for the cup and with Jim Berry and Colm Farrell the only players with experience in this competition it will be interesting to see how the South Easterners fair.
Finally midland rivals Westmeath and Offaly will clash on Sunday in the only game that doesn’t involve a student side in this week’s action. New Offaly manager Ollie Baker will be keen to hit the ground running and the former Clare man has handed a debut to Dwayne Dunne in a forward line that also includes Offaly footballer Sean Ryan.
Bord na Mona Walsh Cup round 1 fixtures:
Friday 20th Jan:
Carlow v UCD, Carlow IT, 7.30pm
Saturday 21st Jan:
Laois v DIT, Rathdowney, 2pm
Wexford v NUIG, Belfield, Enniscorthy, 2pm
Sunday 22nd Jan:
Westmeath v Offaly. Kinnegad, 2pm