The winter training ban for inter-county footballers and hurlers is officially over, even though some counties did not seem to know it was in place in the first instance; and the first bit of competitive action of 2011 in Connacht kicks off this weekend with the start of the FBD league.
The Galway senior football panel kick off their campaign under the new management of Tomás Ó Flatharta, and his selectors Seán Óg De Paor and Martin McNamara when they travel to Enniscrone to play Sligo at 2pm.
Galway will be without a host of established players due to their involvement with their colleges in the Connacht league, and Gareth Bradshaw and Cathal Kenny are involved in the O’Byrne Cup which will give the management team an opportunity to have a look at some other players and new options.
Galway have drafted in a bunch of new players to the FBD panel and guys like Alan Glynn and Eddie Hoare from St. Michaels, Stephen Kavanagh (Killanin ), Brian Faherty (Moycullen ), Johnny Ryan (Kilkerrin/Clonberne ) and Padraig Lally (An Spidéal ) will all expect to see action over the coming weeks.
New selector Seán Óg De Paor is looking forward to the start of action this weekend and points out that it is an opportunity for players to show what they can do and put down some markers for starting places in the National Leauge
“All panels evolve over time and we are no different. New players come in and add something to the mix and the next few weekends will be a chance for us to look at players and see what value they can add to the set-up”.
Galway will not be announcing their team until later in the week but it will definitely see new faces vying for positions.
Elsewhere defending FBD champions Mayo, under the guidance of their new manager James Horan take on Leitrim in Ballinamore.
The other fixtures on Sunday see the 2010 Connacht Championship winners Roscommon, hosting GMIT in Ballyforan.
The final game of the weekend and one which should see a fair bit of local interest will see NUI, Galway, under the management of Mayo’s John Maughan, playing IT Sligo in Dangan at 2pm.
NUIG will be able to call on two well established Mayo stars this year, as both Alan Dillon and Peadar Gardiner are registered to play with the college. Sligo IT have Galway players Danny Cummins and Adrian Faherty in their ranks and NUIG can call on Galway panellists Greg Higgins and Conor Healy.
The game in Dangan takes on added significance as both colleges have been drawn to play each other in the 1st Round of the Sigerson Cup later in the season.