BRIAN DARBY will keep up the family tradition by lining out with Offaly against Westmeath in Saturday night’s Leinster senior football championship in Tullamore.
The Rhode youngster who will make his championship debut at wing forward, is following in the footsteps of his father Stephen and uncle Seamus whose winning goal in the 1982 All-Ireland final denied Kerry what would have been a record five titles in a row.
Gracefield’s Karol Slattery makes his first start of the year after returning from a long-term injury. He is selected at centre forward and not in the half back line where he has played virtually all of his inter-county football.
Paul McConway, who has strong Westmeath family connections, has shaken off injury to start at right half back with Scott Brady and Nigel Grennan alongside him.
Veteran Ciaran McManus renews his midfield partnership with Alan McNamee, with Niall Smith now at wing forward. Meanwhile, Thomas Deehan and Pascal Kelleghan join top-scorer Niall McNamee in a potent looking full forward line.
Louth boss Eamonn McEneaney gives championship debut to three players for Sunday’s Leinster championship clash with Dublin at Croke Park. Into the side comes Conor McGuinness at centre-back, Adrian Reid at right half-forward, and Derek Crilly at left half-forward.
McEneaney has been forced to make a change at full back because of the loss of experienced Colin Goss with a groin injury. Mick Fanning has been handed the No 3 jersey, having down an excellent job there in the 2006 Tommy Murphy Cup final.
The strength of this Louth team can be gauged by the calibre of players McEneaney has on the bench. Darren Clarke and Alan Page have to be content with being substitutes.
McEneaney believes the underdogs’ tag will suit his team against Dubs and says it’s an ideal situation to be in. “Dublin have been the standard bearers in Leinster for some time now. This is my third year in charge and it’s question of how much we have improved,” said Eamonn.
McEneaney is adamant that Louth won’t be found wanting in the physical stakes against a Dublin side renowned for their physicality.
“We would be a reasonably big side, we’ve done a lot of conditioning work. You work on a lot of aspects. By and large, you make progress and I don’t think we’ll be found wanting physically on Sunday”.
Down manager Ross Carr has delayed naming his team for Sunday’s Ulster SFC quarter-final against Tyrone until after tonight’s training session, because of a number of injury concerns. Benny Coulter, Daniel Hughes and Liam Doyle are all rated doubtful for the Healy Park showdown.
The trio have been unable to take a full part in training over the past week. John Clarke is expected to be fit, despite suffering a leg injury in a 2-15 to 1-15 challenge match loss to Cork last Saturday week.
Ciaran McGovern, James McGovern, Declan Rooney, Darren O’Hanlon and Martin Rafferty are all sidelined with long-term injuries.
Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy who will announce his team to play Cork in Sunday’s Munster senior hurling semi-final, tonight after training, will pick from a fully fit squad after Eamon Corcoran was declared injury free. The Cork intermediate hurling team to play Tipperary in the Munster semi-final on Sunday is notable for the inclusion of a number of members of the senior squad, including Leigh Desmond, Stephen White, and former senior Jonathan O’Callaghan.
OFFALY (SFC v Westmeath): P Kelly; G Rafferty, S Sullivan, J Keane; P McConway, S Brady, N Grennan; C McManus, A McNamee; B Darby, K Slattery, N Smith; T Deehan, P Kelleghan, N McNamee.
LOUTH (SFC v Dublin): S Reynolds; D Finnegan, M Fanning, J Neary; J O’Brien, C McGuinness, R Finnegan; P Keenan, R Carroll; A Reid, M Stanfield, D Crilly; C Judge, A Hoey, S Lennon..
CORK (IHC v Tipperary): M. Collins (Ballinhassig); J. Crowley (Newcestown), R. Cashman (Kilbrittain), C. O’Driscoll (Oliver Plunketts); J. Hughes (Blarney), P. Dwyer (Ballymartle), B. Murphy (Fr O’Neills); L. Desmond (Youghal), S. White (Ballygarvan); R. Dwyer (Ballymartle), P. O’Brien (Kildorrery), A. Mannix (Kilworth); M. O’Sullivan (Ballyhea), JP Murphy (St Vincents), J. O’Callaghan (Castletownroche).
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