Return of inter-county action sees packed January schedule

A busy January beckons for Westmeath footballers and hurlers, who return to inter-county action at the weekend.

The Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup offers Westmeath three matches ahead of an important Allianz Football League Division Four campaign.

Having suffered three relegations in a row, Westmeath will be anxious to launch a promotion bid in the spring.

Manager Tom Cribbin is expected to afford some youngsters game time in the O’Byrne Cup before the league.

The games against Louth, Carlow, and Maynooth University are ideal preparation for Westmeath, who enjoyed two productive Leinster Championship campaigns in 2015 and 2016.

Michael Ryan’s hurling panel also face three matches in the coming weeks.

Last year, the Midlanders impressed, winning Division 2A of the Allianz Hurling League, but lost a critical promotion/relegation play-off to Laois.

That defeat provided a reminder of the distance that Westmeath, who crave a spot in Division 1B, must travel, but Ryan continues to carry out good work.

Antrim, DCU, and Kilkenny are in Westmeath’s group so the Midlanders will be anxious to make an impact.

Meanwhile, Roscommon footballers, who are managed by Kevin McStay also face a busy stint.

Liam McHale, Ger Dowd, David Joyce, and Declan O’Keefe form McStay’s backroom team for 2017.

Sligo IT, NUIG, and Mayo are in Roscommon’s Connacht FBD League group.

Roscommon will be without prolific St Brigid’s attacker Senan Kilbride, who recently announced his retirement from inter-county action.

Geoffrey Claffey and Niall Carty have also retired from Roscommon duty.

Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup

Sunday, January 8: Westmeath v Louth, TEG Cusack Park

Wednesday, January 11: Carlow v Westmeath, Netwatch Cullen Park

Sunday, January 15: Westmeath v Maynooth University, TEG Cusack Park

Bord na Mona Walsh Cup

Sunday, January 8: Westmeath v Antrim, Kinnegad, 2pm

Sunday, January 15: Westmeath v DCU, Kinnegad, 2pm

Sunday, January 22: Westmeath v Kilkenny, TEG Cusack Park, 2pm

Connacht FBD League

Sunday, January 8: Roscommon v Sligo IT, 2pm

Sunday, January 15: NUIG v Roscommon, 2pm

Sunday, January 22: Roscommon v Mayo

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