McGrath Cup gets underway despite weather woe

FEARS remain that the provincial pre-season competitions may have to be scrapped due to adverse weather conditions, despite the first inter-county action of the year starting tonight with two preliminary round games in the McGrath Cup.

There had been three games slated for the Munster football competition tonight, but provincial chiefs have switched the tie between Kerry and IT Tralee to Saturday afternoon in Kerins O’Rahilly’s grounds in Strand Road, Tralee. The winners will have to be in action again 24 hours later with a quarter-final tie against Waterford. Limerick’s match against Waterford IT goes ahead tonight but it has been switched from the Gaelic Grounds to Staker Wallace grounds in Bulgaden in Limerick at 7.30pm. The other game between Tipperary and UL goes ahead in Dr Morris Park at 7.30pm.

There is still uncertainty in the other three provinces as to whether this weekend’s scheduled matches can take place. The Connacht Council meet tomorrow morning to decide if the first round fixtures in the FBD League will take place.

“We will do everything in our power to get the matches played,” said a spokesperson for the Connacht Council. “It is a case of wait and see.” Leinster Council officials will decide today or tomorrow as to whether the eight matches in the first round of the O’Byrne Cup will take place on Sunday, while in Ulster there will be pitch inspections tomorrow of the six grounds hosting games this weekend.

On the playing fields, UL kickstart their Sigerson Cup preparations tonight in the McGrath Cup against Tipperary, but boss Cian O’Neill admits the weather has played havoc with their training.

“It’s been very tough. We couldn’t ask players to travel to Limerick for training. We only had our first get-together yesterday since Christmas in the indoor facility at Mallow.

“What else has been difficult for us is the new experimental rules. They’re not in operation in the Sigerson Cup but they are in the McGrath Cup. So we have to train our players to use a set of rules that they’re not used to and won’t be using again this season.

“But at least we’ll get a run out tonight. We won’t have David Moran as he officially took a year out from college, but he may come back for the second semester in time for the Sigerson. But we’ve good lads like Colin O’Mahony (Kerry), Stephen Lonergan (Offaly), Seamus O’Shea (Mayo) the Galway senior pair Declan Rhattigan and Gary O’Donnell, and three Tipperary seniors Phillip Austin, Brian Fox and Paddy Codd. It’s an important match for us.”

LIMERICK (SF v Waterford IT): C Ranahan; J McCarthy, C Mullane, A Lane; L O’Dwyer, S Gallagher, D Carroll; J Galvin, E Joy; S Kelly, J Ryan, S Buckley; J Mullane, I Ryan, K O’Callaghan. Subs: B Moran, P Browne, S Lavin, P Ranahan, M O’Riordan, J O’Donovan, B O’Brien, W Enright, S Mulcahy.

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