The pre-season GAA action continues at a strangely fast pace this week, as the various provinces seem to be in a rush to get these competitions out of the way. While it seems only the die-hards attend these games, they are important for any young players trying to break into their county’s panels for the National Leagues.
With time running out for players trying to impress their managers, we look ahead to the games that take place this mid-week.
All games are on Wednesday unless stated otherwise.
Munster Senior Hurling League
Clare v Limerick, Sixmilebridge 7.30
After suffering a humbling defeat to Cork at the weekend, Limerick will be looking to get back on track with a trip to Sixmilebridge to face the Shannonside rivals, Clare.
This clash will have little bearing on the sides’ meeting in the summer, but it will be a good chance for players to put their hands up and show they are capable of playing at this level. Clare opened their campaign at the weekend with a win against Kerry, so this is a first big test for their new management team. With the usual caveat that it is only January, there could be a bit of bite to this one.
Cork v Waterford, Mallow 7.30
If you are judging this game solely on how these teams performed against Limerick, then there can only be one winner. However, expect a stronger Waterford team to line out against possibly a more experimental XV from the Rebels. Nonetheless, Cork will still want to come out on top as after starting out this competition with two wins from two, they will feel they should be making the final.
Carlow v UCD, Netwatch Cullen Park 7.45
Carlow will be hoping that they can bring some momentum into the National League and will be looking to take the points in this one. Defeats to Dublin and Wexford mean that they are not getting out of the group, but nonetheless, they will feel a win is a must if they are to take the first steps in making any kind of progress in 2017.
Meath v IT Carlow, Dunganny 7.30
Unfortunately for Meath, only one team progresses out of the groups in the knockout stages of this competition. After a one-point win over Kildare last time out, it is still possible for the Christy Ring Cup champions to progress to the semi-finals but need an unlikely slip-up from Offaly for this to happen. Despite this, the Royal County will look to make it back-to-back wins and give themselves a good platform heading into the league campaign.
Wexford v Dublin, Shelmaliers GAA, 7.30 (Thursday)
This is effectively a knock-out fixture with the winner progressing to the semi-final. It is also a good pre-NHL test for both sides as they look to give game-time to as many players as possible ahead of the forthcoming season. We’ve already covered how there is a bit of hype around Wexford this year because of their manager, and with Dublin there is always an element of expectation. A fascinating early-season encounter is in store with the winner on course for some rare silverware.
DIT v NUI, Galway, Abbotstown 7.15
Trinity College v DCU St Patricks, Santry 7.00 – Thursday
Verdict: Trinity College
Dr McKenna Cup
Derry v Queen’s Owenbeg, 7.00
Derry are a team who have under performed in recent years. They do have some talented players and will be looking to showcase this in front of a home support Wednesday night
Armagh v Down, Athletic Grounds, 7.00
In what is typically the most competitive pre-season tournament, this is sure to be an interesting fixture between two sides full of potential. Like with other teams around the country, these two sides are looking to put a panel together before the league and championship, and this is sure to be a good test for some fringe players to gain experience.
Tyrone v Donegal, Healy Park, 7.00
Alongside the Wexford vs Dublin hurling clash, this is the pick of the football fixtures. A regular match-up in the Ulster final, these two teams bring the best out of each other and in their minds, it is never too early in the year to get one over their fierce rivals. Given the wave of retirements in Donegal this year, there are under a bit more pressure to blood talent before the summer, so this game offers their new players a stern test.
Given the wave of retirements in Donegal this year, they are under a bit more pressure to blood talent before the summer, so this game offers their new players a stern test.
Fermanagh v Antrim, Brewster Park, 7.00
Monaghan v St Mary’s, Inniskeen, 7.00
Cavan v Ulster University Jordanstown, Kingspan Breffni Park, 7.00