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Kavanagh exit rocks Kildare

KILDARE begin their season on Sunday shorn one of their most established forwards after it emerged that James Kavanagh has decided to opt out of Kieran McGeeney's panel for 2013.

In addition, veteran defender Aindriú Mac Lochlainn has been cut loose from the squad along with several others, who are not, for the moment, part of McGeeney's plans.

A statement from the Lilywhite county board contained the information that Kavanagh, 27, was walking away from the squad, citing "personal reasons".

The Dublin-based garda is soon to become a father and is understood to have decided he was no longer able to give the necessary commitment to the Kildare cause.

Having been handed his debut in 2004 by Pádraig Nolan, Kavanagh rose to national prominence during McGeeney's reign, establishing himself as one of the manager's automatic choices in attack and earning All Star nominations in 2009 and 2010.

Mac Lochlainn, meanwhile, is no longer part of McGeeney's squad after he, Ciarán Fitzpatrick, Mark Scanlon, Tommy O'Neill, Paddy Dunne and Karl Ennis were let go from the group while the promising Tommy Moolick will focus his early season intentions exclusively with the Kildare under-21s.

Kildare make their seasonal bow against Carlow IT in Newbridge on Sunday (2.0), where McGeeney is expected to blood a host of newcomers as he attempts to repair the damage of a dispiriting 2012 campaign.

Both Gary White and Alan Smith have rejoined the panel in recent days after being granted a break following Sarsfields' run in the Leinster club championship, while veteran John Doyle has already committed to another season with the Lilywhites.

MEATH have named their starting 15 for Sunday's O'Byrne Cup clash with Longford in Ballymahon, the most noteworthy feature of which undoubtedly is Joe Sheridan's selection in midfield.

New boss Mick O'Dowd has given a cluster of young players the opportunity to make an early impression, with previously unheralded Caolan Young, Cormac Rowe, Stephen Crosbie and Dalton McDonagh all listed to start.

KERRY manager Eamon Fitzmaurice has named an experimental line-up for their McGrath Cup clash with IT Tralee although, notably, Dr Crokes' Brian Looney has been selected at corner-forward.

Most of Looney's club colleagues have been given the Sunday off as they prepare for their All-Ireland club semi-final with Ballymun Kickhams. But after his own performances in the Kerry and Munster championships marked Looney as a potential county recruit, Fitzmaurice has opted to award him a starting berth in his maiden match in charge in the Kingdom.

Kieran Donaghy will start in midfield where he partners Johnny Buckley, with Darran O'Sullivan set to line out at centre-forward.

DUBLIN will select their team for Sunday's O'Byrne Cup clash with Carlow in Dr Cullen Park after training tonight.

THE venue for Sunday's O'Byrne Cup clash of Westmeath v Athlone IT has been changed to Hogan Park, Moate.

MEATH (SF v Longford): D Lyons; C Young, D Keogan, D Dalton; C Rowe, E Harrington, S Crosbie; C Gillespie, J Sheridan; P Gilsenan, D Carroll, J Queeney; D McDonagh, P Byrne, M Newman.

KERRY (SF v IT Tralee): B Kelly; F Fitzgerald, M Ó Sé, S Enright; J Lyne, J Sherwood, K Young; K Donaghy, J Buckley; M Geaney, D O'Sullivan, M O'Donoghue; B Looney, P Curtin, P Geaney.