O’Connor rings the changes for Kerry opener

ALL-IRELAND champions Kerry have named just five of the team that started in last September’s victory over Cork for tomorrow’s NFL Division 1 opener against Dublin in Killarney.

With a host of players unavailable to manager Jack O’Connor, Tommy Griffin, Killian Young, Seamus Scanlon, Paul Galvin and Declan O’Sullivan are the only survivors from the All-Ireland winning team.

Ger Reidy gets a chance to stake a claim in goal following the retirement of Diarmuid Murphy, with Adrian O’Connell (St Michael’s-Foilmore) and Maurice Corridan (Finuge) newcomers to the defence. Padraig Reidy and Aidan O’Mahony start at corner-back and centre-back respectively, with Michéal Quirke partnering Scanlon in midfield. The attacking changes see Donncha Walsh at left half-forward, and a new full-forward line of Barry John Walsh, Kieran Donaghy and Paul O’Connor.

Kildare boss Kieran McGeeney has handed versatile Maynooth player Karl Ennis a starting berth on his return to the Kildare side in tomorrow’s Division 2 home tie against Down. Ennis, who made his name at inter-county level as a wing-back under the management of Pádraig Nolan, is selected at left corner-forward. Former U21 star David Whyte makes his first competitive start at right half-forward.

Meanwhile McGeeney has named former Armagh teammate Aidan O’Rourke to replace Paul Grimley as Kildare selector.

Kildare look set to have to plan without defender Morgan O’Flaherty who has had his eight-week suspension confirmed by the CHC of the Leinster Council. O’Flaherty chose to seek a hearing following his sending-off in the recent controversial O’Byrne Cup tie against Laois, and protested his innocence at Thursday night’s hearing It is expected that O’Flaherty will appeal the decision, with the likelihood that he will pursue his case all the way to the Disputes Resolutions Authority if need be.

Meath boss Eamonn O’Brien has made nine changes to his side ahead of their NFL Division 2 opener against Armagh in Páirc Tailteann tonight from the team that exited the O’Byrne Cup against DCU last week. Experienced hands Eoin Harrington, Mickey Burke, Cormac McGuinness, Mark Ward, Chris O’Connor, Peader Byrne and David Bray come back into the side. Meath have one player making his league debut, Rathkenny’s James Macken starts at full back after a string of impressive performances in the O’Byrne Cup.

Tipperary manager John Evans has introduced four newcomers to his side for their NFL Division 2 opener against Laois in Portlaoise tonight. Ciaran McGrath starts at left half-back while Alan Rockett partners George Hannigan at midfield. In attack Stephen Hahessy is selected at corner-forward while Aherlow’s Seamus Grogan links up with his brother Barry by starting at full-forward. Tipperary have selected centre-back Robbie Costigan as captain for the coming season with centre-forward Phillip Austin serving as vice-captain.

Meanwhile Tyrone attacker Colm McCullagh has decided to call time on his intercounty career. Dromore clubman McCullagh was a member of the 2005 All-Ireland winning Tyrone squad but burst to prominence during their 2008 triumph when he struck 1-21 during the championship and earned an All Star nomination.

KERRY (SF v Dublin): G Reidy; P Reidy, T Griffin, A O’Connell; M Corridan, A O’Mahony, K Young; S Scanlon, M Quirke; P Galvin, D O’Sullivan, D Walsh; BJ Walsh, K Donaghy, P O’Connor. Subs: B Kealy, Alan O’Sullivan, J O’Donoghue, P Corridan, Aidan O’Sullivan, K O’Leary, BJ Keane, B Looney, P O’Connor, J Buckley.

KILDARE (SF v Down): S McCormack; A MacLochlainn, M Foley, E Bolton; G White, B Flanagan, A Rainbow; D Flynn, D Earley; D Whyte, P O’Neill, R Kelly; J Kavanagh, R Sweeney, K Ennis.

MEATH (SF v Armagh): P O’Rourke; N McKeigue, J Macken, E Harrington; M Burke, C McGuinness, G Reilly; N Crawford, M Ward; C O’Connor, S Bray, P Byrne; D Bray, J Queeney, C Ward.

TIPPERARY (SF v Laois): P Fitzgerald; C Morrissey, C McDonald, N Curran; C Aylward, R Costigan, C McGrath; G Hannigan, A Rockett; S Carey, P Austin, B Coen; S Hahessy, S Grogan, B Grogan.

CORK (SH panel v Clare): D Óg Cusack, M Coleman, S Murphy, S O’Neill, D Cunningham, S Óg O’hAilpín, J Gardiner, B Murphy, A Ryan, R Curran, W Egan, R Ryan, T Kenny, M Walsh, N McCarthy, M O’Sullivan, G Callanan, F O’Leary, C McCarthy, A O’hAilpín, M Cussen, P Horgan, B O’Sullivan.

DUBLIN (SH v Wexford): A Nolan, M May, N Corcoran, R Trainor, S Hiney Capt., R Fallon, M O’Brien, J McCaffrey, G O’Meara, D Curtin, S Ryan, J Kelly, P Carton, K Flynn, A McCrabbe.

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