Time to give our Hurlers some much needed attention in this county
Here is a preview to their opening NHL 3A campaign
Louth get their division 3A campaign underway with a tough trip to Letterkenny on Sunday to play a strong Donegal outfit. Donegal came down from 2B in 2016 and are strong favourites to make a quick return. This year league sees teams play home and away with 6 games in total.
Louth went through their equivalent of the O Byrne Cup with mixed results, losing to a strong NUI Maynooth team (who went on to win the tournament) in Darver, while two weeks later travelling to Longford and coming away with a good win. Throughout the 2 games the management took the opportunity to blood a lot of young talent and get some fitness into the squad. Younger players like Donal Ryan & Michael Ryan shone, with the 2 Fechins men pulling on the red jersey of Louth at senior level for the first time. Both started against Longford managing to grab scores in the win.
The reigning league and championship winners Fechins have a big impact on the squad this year increasing their number from 3 in the Lory Meagher winning squad to 13 this year. Their injection of youth and winning mentality will be a great benefit to the team and will steer them in the right direction.
The hurlers have changed their captain for the first time in a number of years with Stallworth Shane Callan stepping down and his Pearse Óg club mate Andy McCrave taking over. There also seems to be a changing of the guard in position as McCrave has been deployed in midfield for both Keogh Cup games with Callan reverted to the backs.
New Look Team
The starting 15 will differ greatly from that which run out of the hoganstand tunnel last June with competition and headaches for the new management team. Theirs a 4 way tussle to see who’ll don the number 1 shirt with Connolly brothers James & Donal, contesting against Tipp native Shane Nolan and Double Championship winning net minder from the Fechins Hackett all in with a shout.
Throughout the field the management will have headaches with the defence performing well and keeping a clean sheet against Longford can they make changes, with Knockbridge trio, Conor Kerrigan, kettle & McKeown all knocking on the door to claim one of the 6 starting spots. In the middle there are plenty of men to fill only 2 spots, with Callan, McCrave, Ryan, Lyons, Dwan & Mager all had stints in the middlein the Keogh Cup, with Naomh Moninnes O Hanrahan also a great contributor to the middle third when called upon.
Up front the evergreen Murphy is looking to lead the line again with messrs Lynch and Connelly from the Fechins looking to start. Back in the panel for 2017 Gavin Kerrigan is returning from injury just in time for the trip to Letterkenny and is up for the challenge of the Tir Chonaill men.
All in all the 2017 season is one to look forward to with great optimism and hopefulness as the Big men from the WEE County head to Donegal and begin their march for more silverware.
Suspected panel 2017
St Feichins (13): Darren McDonnell, Donal Ryan, Seaghan Connelly, Paul Matthews, Stephen Hackett, Brian Stephenson, Colin Griffin, Conor Matthews, David Stephenson, Donnacha O Connell, Michael Ryan, Paddy Lynch & Paddy McCormack.
Naomh Moninne (5): James Connolly, Donal Connolly, Darren O Hanrahan, Diarmuid Murphy & Paul Challoner.
Mattock Rangers (1): Johnny Carter
Pearse Óg (7): Andy McCrave, Brian Minogue, Gerard Smyth, Dean Walsh, Padraig McCarthy, Shane Callan & Mike Lyons.
Konckbridge (4): Conor Kerrigan, Gavin Kerrigan, Ricky McKeown & Stephen Kettle.
Doon, Co. Limerick (1): Roger Mager
Holycross Ballycahill, Co. Tipperary (1): Liam Dwan
Loughmore-Castlelney, Co. Tipperary (1): Shane Nolan