Connerton steps down as Longford manager

DENIS CONNERTON has stepped down as Longford football manager in the wake of their All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Dublin.

The Rathcline clubman had been at the helm for three years, during which he guided Longford to Division 1 of the National League for the first time in 31 years.

The midlanders recorded memorable victories over Kerry and Westmeath in their first two games, but their failure to garner any further points saw them relegated from the top flight last spring.

Longford suffered a shock defeat to Carlow in the opening round of the Leinster football championship, but bounced back to beat Monaghan and Waterford in the qualifiers before losing to Dublin by nine points.

There is already speculation that Declan Rowley, who recently resigned as Leitrim manager, will fill the void.

Laois have made three positional changes from the side that beat Meath for next Sunday’s Leinster SFC final clash with Westmeath at Croke Park.

Pádraig Clancy moves from left half forward to midfield. Chris Conway is switched from left corner forward to left half with Sean Fitzpatrick transferring from midfield to the left corner of attack.

Anthony Lynch is expected to return to the Cork team for their All-Ireland qualifier with Fermanagh at Croke Park on Saturday. The Naomh Aban player, who missed the defeat by Kerry in Munster and the first qualifying victory over Clare because of a shoulder injury, could come back into the team at centre back, thus allowing Graham Canty to move forward to midfield.

Sean Levis and Ciaran O’Sullivan, who worked the oracle for their side against Clare, also following their second half introductions, will have their names in the frame for starting positions on this occasion.

Fermanagh, who will name their team later in the week, are concerned about wing forward Tom Brewster, who received a nasty shoulder injury in their last victory over Meath.

Tyrone will have Peter Canavan back on the bench for what promises to be an intriguing game against Galway on Saturday. Gavin Devlin, who missed the last two games against Donegal and Down because of a shoulder injury is now fully recovered. However, it is expected team manager Micky Harte will keep faith with Shane Sweeney.

Tyrone are due to announce their team tomorrow night, while Galway manager John O’Mahony may not reveal his hand until the morning of the match.

Colm Morris and Dara Browne are extremely doubtful for Wexford’s qualifier with Derry at Parnell Park on Saturday, because of knee injuries picked up in last weekend’s win over Offaly. Wexford are due to name their team tonight.

Sean Marty Lockhart has now fully recovered from his leg wound and will press for a place on the Derry team.

Clare are awaiting fitness reports on Brian Lohan and Alan Markham before finalising the team to meet Offaly in their All-Ireland SHC qualifier at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday.

Offaly, who will name their team tonight, are concerned about the fitness of half back Brian Whelehan, who is struggling with a hamstring injury.

LAOIS (SF v Westmeath): F Byron; A Fennelly, C Byrne, J Higgins; D Rooney, T Kelly, P McDonald; P Clancy, N Garvan; R Munnelly, B McDonald, C Conway; I Fitzgerald, C Parkinson, S Fitzpatrick.

KILDARE (MFC v Laois): J Kindregan (Round Towers); D McEvoy (Celbridge), J Fogarty (St. Laurences), I Lonergan (Moorefield); P Kearney (St Laurences), J Creighton (Celbridge), J Brosnan (St Kevins); P O’Neill (St Laurences), C Hughes (Confey); B Bell (Kilcullen), A Smith (Moorefield), C Kelly (Moorefield); M Conway (Nurney), G White (Sarsfields), T Archbold (Ballymore).

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