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New Mayo boss Kevin McStay to face Galway in first competitive game

Baptism of fire: New Mayo football manager Kevin McStay. Photo: Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE


Kevin McStay’s first competitive match as Mayo manager will be at home against Connacht rivals and All-Ireland finalists Galway in Division 1 of the Allianz League on the opening weekend of action.

McStay, who took over from James Horan at the end of the summer, will have the benefit of four home matches in the campaign with Kerry, Tyrone and Monaghan also travelling west for later rounds.

Mayo had no home fixture in 2022 as MacHale Park was closed for pitch redevelopment in the early months so their ‘home’ games went to neighbouring counties in Connacht.

Mayo and Galway has been pencilled in provisionally as a Saturday, January 28 fixture with a 7pm throw-in time on draft Allianz League fixtures for football and hurling which have been circulated to counties in recent days with the probability of live TV coverage.

On that same evening, Kildare have been provisionally fixed to play Dublin in Croke Park in their opening Division 2 match, a game that could have a 5pm throw-in and TV coverage too as the GAA expands its broadcast footprint through the leagues with TG4 also moving into some Saturday evening slots.

All-Ireland champions Kerry will face a long journey to Donegal for their opening league game, provisionally fixed for Sunday, January 29.

A renewal of the All-Ireland final with Galway will not take place until the final round on Sunday, March 26, an afternoon when Tyrone will host Armagh, a league fixture that sparked some controversy earlier this year, while Monaghan will be in Mayo and Donegal in Roscommon.

Kerry’s first home match on the second weekend of league action, February 4/5, will be against Monaghan. They will also have Armagh and Roscommon at home in their fourth and sixth rounds with an away trip to Tyrone in between. For their third game, on the weekend of February 18/19, they’ll be away to Mayo.

Galway will have Connacht opposition for their second game on Sunday, February 4 when they host Roscommon and with a break in football action on the weekend of February 10/11, the Tribesmen will resume with a third round fixture on the weekend of February 17/18 away to Tyrone.

There will be no hurling action that weekend.

All four new Division 1 managers will have the comfort of home fixtures on the first weekend. Roscommon, who appointed Davy Burke last week, will host Tyrone on Sunday, January 29, while Monaghan, now managed by Vinny Corey, will be at home to Armagh.

Meanwhile in Division 2, Colm O’Rourke’s first competitive game as Meath manager will be against Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday, January 29.

Meath will not play Dublin until the sixth round in Navan, a provisional 2.30 throw-in on Saturday, March 18 which is another possible indication of the expanding window with which the GAA is fixing league games to accommodate TV coverage.

Ray Dempsey’s first game in charge of Limerick will be away to Derry on Sunday, January 29, while Louth will be in Clare for their first Division 2 game on the same day. Mickey Harte will renew an old rivalry with Dublin in the last round of the league when he takes his Louth team to Croke Park.

The first round of hurling league action will be on Saturday/Sunday, February 4/5 with the showpiece Division 1A game on the Saturday evening in Páirc Uí Chaoimh when Cork host Limerick.

On the same evening and in the same division, Wexford are provisionally fixed to play Galway in Chadwicks Wexford Park where newly installed floodlights will be in operation for the first time in a league campaign.

The second round of hurling league fixtures will be played on February 11/12, a hurling-only weekend.

The fixtures are only provisional and counties have been given until next week to make observations. Changes are possible but are expected to be minimal.

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