Tomorrow’s curtain raiser sees Division 3A champions Derrynoose take on St Michael’s in a repeat of last year’s opening round.
If Saturday’s encounter is anything like last season’s meeting, then this game could go right down to the wire.
An Oisin McNally major two minutes after the interval turned out to be the game-winning score as Derrynoose edged through by two points.
That goal started a Derrynoose scoring spree that sent them seven points ahead, having been level at half time, but Newtown clawed their way back into the game.
The St Michael’s men slotted over six of the last seven scores but couldn’t get the goal that would change the result.
That performance last year and the draw at the start of the league will give Seamus O’Callaghan’s men confidence that they can match this Derrynoose side.
A Derrynoose side that will be without star man Conor McNally, who has been absent all year long through injury.
Despite missing their top marksman, Paul Doyle’s charges were still able to earn promotion and a league title.
Davy McCreesh has taken over the scoring burden and has excelled this season. He will be the centre of Newtown’s attention.
Pearse Lennon is another attacking threat while Pauric McNaughton, Conall McNally and Shea McNaughton all hit the net in the most recent meeting between the sides.
That was just two weeks and was heavily one sided in favour of Derrynoose. But that deserves some context.
Derrynoose needed the victory to capture the league title and guarantee promotion while Newtown had nothing to play for.
St Michael’s have their own injury concerns. Daire Carr is out of action while Oisin Mullen is unlikely to play either.
The underdogs will look to their youth to inspire them in the form of James and Sean McVerry along with Aidan Davidson.
The experienced Benny Davidson will once again be used as an impact sub, just as he was last year. when he scored 0-3 from the bench.
Derrynoose are the favourites to make it through to the quarterfinals and face Dorsey, but they’ll be taking nothing for granted.
They’ll know Newtown will pose serious questions and if both teams play to their potential will could be in for a brilliant match.