Limerick welcome Longford in crucial Tailteann Cup opener

Limerick are the top seeds in their group where the table toppers will advance to the Tailteann quarter-finals.

It will be the beginning of a new venture for the Limerick Senior Footballers on Saturday evening when they welcome Longford in the opening round of the 2023 Tailteann Cup.

It is a maiden year in the competition for Limerick who are joined in group three by Longford, Wicklow and Carlow. Saturday’s game is the only guaranteed home tie for the Shannonsiders with a trip to Carlow next weekend followed by a clash with Wicklow in a neutral venue.

Following their spring campaign in the second division, Limerick are the top seeds in their group where the table toppers will advance to the Tailteann quarter-finals. Second will move into a preliminary quarter final alongside the three best third place teams and New York. The bottom side are eliminated.

8 May 2023; Paul Maher of Limerick during the Tailteann Cup launch at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Limerick’s place in the second tier competition was confirmed after their slender Munster semi-final defeat to Clare last month. After suffering a heavy defeat to the Banner in their dead rubber group game, Limerick will rue a missed opportunity in the provincial last four with Clare edging a 1-16 to 0-16 result in the TUS Gaelic Grounds.

That defeat followed a disappointing league campaign as their one year stint in Division 2 came to an end with a whimper. Under Ray Dempsey, Limerick lost each of their first four contests against Dublin, Derry, Louth and Cork. They earned a draw with Meath but Dempsey’s reign came to an end in the aftermath with Mark Fitzgerald stepping up to the plate for the final pair of games. Two more defeats would follow against Kildare and Clare with Limerick languishing at bottom in the table.

However, the performance against Clare will give the side plenty of hope as they pushed the Munster finalists all the way.

Fitzgerald will have to do without joint captain Iain Corbett for the game this weekend as the Newcastle West man misses out through an injury that has dogged his campaign to date. Into the team comes Adrian Enright, who missed the Clare game through suspension. Elsewhere the team remains the same barring a few positional switches.

22 April 2023; Limerick captain Iain Corbett speaks to his teammates prior to the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Limerick and Clare at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Tom Beary/Sportsfile

Longford on the other hand have experience of the Tailteann Cup having competeed in the inaugural competition last year. However, their time in the competition was fleeting as, operating on a knockout basis, they were beaten by Fermanagh in the quarter finals to signal an end to their title aspirations.

Like Limerick, Longford come into this year’s edition off the back of a League relegation after finishing second from bottom in Division 3. They also only played one championship game this year, falling to a single point defeat to Offaly in the Leinster preliminary round.

But Limerick will be wary of the Leinster outfit who gave as good as they got in the sides most recent meeting, the opening round of last year’s league. Billy Lee’s men earned a 4-9 to 1-11 win to kick off their promotion hunt but it wasn’t comfortable until James Naughton’s late goal sealed the result.

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Brian Donovan kicked a double while Cillian Fahy chipped in with the other with each of those three central to everything good Limerick have produced this year.

Championship debutants Cathal Downes and Barry Coleman were superb against Clare and they will hoping to continue that form into a championship that Limerick will harbour genuine aspirations on winning.

But the Treaty men cannot get ahead of themselves with each team in the group sure to target the number one seeds. It is crucial they get off to a winning start in the TUS Gaelic Grounds and if they perform like they did in their most recent encounter there, it should be enough to see off the Leinster outfit.

Limerick face Longford in the Tailteann Cup First Round on Saturday May 13 in the TUS Gaelic Grounds at 6pm.

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