Champions’ home comfort

REIGNING All-Ireland champions Cork and Tipperary will both enjoy home advantage for their opening provincial ties next season after the Munster Council finalised their 2011 fixture arrangements last night.

Cork will face Clare in the Munster SFC quarter-final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on May 22, while on the same day Kerry will entertain Tipperary in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney. The following Sunday May 29, Tipperary will face Cork for the fourth year running in the Munster SHC with their quarter-final tie fixed for Semple Stadium.

The venues for the senior hurling and football semi-finals are still to be confirmed although interestingly the SFC last four tie between Limerick and the winners of Kerry and Tipperary will take place on a Saturday evening, June 4. The following day Waterford will face the winners of Cork and Clare in the Munster SFC semi-final. The Munster SHC semi-finals are down for decision on June 12 between Limerick and Waterford, and June 19 between Clare and Cork or Tipperary. The Munster SFC final will take place on July 3 with the hurling decider a week later.

Meanwhile Cork and Kerry are on opposite sides of the draw for next spring’s Cadbury’s Munster U21FC, and both counties have received byes into the semi-finals. Reigning champions Tipperary will face Waterford at the quarter-final stage on March 9. All of the ties in this competition set to take place on midweek dates with the final scheduled for April 6. In the Bord Gáis Munster U21HC, Tipperary will open the defence of their titles with a quarter-final tie against Waterford on June 1. Cork await the winners in the semi-final with Limerick and Clare facing each other for the third successive year in the other semi-final. The final is pencilled in for August 3.

In the ESB Munster MHC, this year’s All-Ireland finalists Clare face off against Kerry, Waterford will play Tipperary and Cork have been drawn against Limerick. In the ESB Munster MFC, Cork will face Clare in the quarter-final for the second year running, Waterford and Kerry will square off, while Tipperary will meet Limerick. In the Waterford Crystal Cup reigning champions Waterford will play the winners of Kerry and Cork IT, while McGrath Cup holders Kerry will face local college IT Tralee in the preliminary round. New Limerick hurling boss Donal O’Grady will have to wait until the National League to take the managerial reins for the first time, as the county have opted not to enter the Waterford Crystal Cup.

Elsewhere Killererin player-manager Tommy Joyce has resigned himself to being without his brother and star attacker Padraic for Sunday’s Connacht SFC club semi-final against Ballintubber. Padraic is on his honeymoon in the Caribbean. Ballintubber will be without goalkeeper Noel Gibbons and centre-back John Feeney who are both ruled out with injuries.

The 2010 Opel GPA Football Team of the Year shows five changes from the All-Star side chosen last month. There are three alterations in defence with Dublin’s Philly McMahon named at left corner-back, Down’s Kevin McKernan at right half-back and Kildare’s Emmett Bolton at centre-back. Limerick’s John Galvin is chosen at midfield while Cork, who had no player in the All-Star forward line, have one in the GPA attack through corner-forward Daniel Goulding.

The five All-Star winners omitted are Peter Kelly (Kildare), Graham Canty (Cork), Phillip Jordan (Tyrone), Aidan Walsh (Cork) and Colm Cooper (Kerry). All-Ireland finalists Down have five representatives while champions Cork only received three awards. Leinster teams Dublin and Kildare have two awards apiece, while Sligo, Louth and Limerick have one winner each. See Digest for 2011 Munster Council Draws.

- Seamus McEnaney is set to be put forward for ratification as the new Meath football manager at a county board meeting next Wednesday following a meeting of the county’s management committee. The move paves the way for McEnaney’s appointment and will mark the first time that the Royal County has appointed a manager from outside the county.

McEnaney is set to assemble a backroom team comprised of Paul Grimley, Martin McElkennon and Liam Harnan for the 2011 season.

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