Whatever about Dublin’s status as clear-cut favourites for a seventh provincial title in row, the Leinster Championship season starts this Sunday with three evenly-matched games throwing-in at 3pm.
Louth v Wicklow – Parnell Park
Fresh from a second successive promotion in the Allianz League, Louth are on an upward curve and will be looking to make a big impression in this season’s Leinster Championship.
But despite their up-and-down form in Division 4, Wicklow will approach the game believing they can cause the first upset of 2017.
Respective managers, Colin Kelly and Johnny McGee have no shortage of big game experience and would love to lead their charges into a quarter-final against Meath.
Laois v Longford – O’Moore Park
Laois have home advantage against Longford as they look to redeem themselves after demotion to Division 4.
A forgettable league campaign actually featured a three point victory over Longford, who themselves survived in Division 3 thanks to a draw away to Antrim in the last round.
Longford also impressed in Ulster during last year’s All-Ireland qualifiers, when they bounced back to Leinster 1st round defeat to Offaly to beat Down and Monaghan.
Laois beat Wicklow in the first round last season before falling to Dublin and the outcome of this contest is impossible to predict.
Carlow v Wexford – Netwatch Cullen Park
Wexford achieved promotion from Division 4 this season with two games to spare, whereas Carlow had to settle for third place in the table.
Their meeting in the final round consisted of some shadow-boxing, but Carlow’s victory shows what they are capable of.
Carlow have struggled in recent years to get past the first round, though they did beat Wicklow in last year’s qualifiers.
Wexford only lost by a point to Kildare at Croke Park 12 months’ ago, but with Carlow having home advantage this really is a 50-50 contest. An added bonus for supporters is a Minor Championship quarter-final between the same counties as the curtain-raiser.