Monday 20 November 2017

Cooney can start to restore Faith with Westmeath win



(Tullamore, Tomorrow, 2.0)

THE ominous job facing Gerry Cooney begins tomorrow: to restore some identity and consistency to Offaly football.

And after a year when they hammered Division 1 team Monaghan and were then destroyed by Limerick before a public shaming from a prominent former county hurler, that's probably the most the Meath native can wish for.

Cooney's first bout of tinkering sees last year's goalkeeper, Alan Mulhall, making his outfield debut at full-forward and Tullamore's Paul McConway and James Keane return to defence after lengthy absences.

Notable names on the bench are Kilmacud Crokes player Brian Hanamy and Offaly hurler Daniel Currams.

In Westmeath, meanwhile, 2012 optimism is somewhat muted.

That Francis Boyle and Paul Greville have both chosen the low-ranking Westmeath hurlers over Pat Flanagan's outfit doesn't reflect particularly well on their prospects for the year.

The emigration of Dennis Coroon and Keith Scally doesn't help, nor does Conor Lynam's broken leg or John Heslin's career in Australia.

Westmeath will be without five of last year's squad due to their involvement with Garrycastle in the All-Ireland club championship.

For what it's worth, local knowledge will be in no short supply with former Offaly player Joe Quinn part of Flanagan's backroom team.

OFFALY: K Meehan; J Gallagher, P McConway, S Pender; J Keane, B Darby, L Hiney; R Dalton, R Brady; G Guilfoyle, N Dunne, A Keenaghan; W Mulhall, A Mulhall, K Casey.

ODDS: Offaly 11/8, Draw 7/1, Westmeath 8/11 VERDICT: Offaly

Long' afternoon ahead for Athlone



(Pearse Park, Tomorrow, 2.0)

LONGFORD might not be the sort of team you might consider a 'banker' for victory in January, but Athlone IT's O'Byrne Cup record doesn't make for attractive reading.

In the last six years, they have lost each of their first-round fixtures by an average of nearly 12 points and the one result which could be considered a near miss came in their maiden voyage in the competition way back in 2005. On that occasion, they came within two points of claiming a win, narrowly losing out to ... Kilkenny.

ODDS: Longford 2/9, Draw 11/1, Athlone IT 7/2 VERDICT: Longford


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