Inter-county football returns in earnest this weekend, as the National League comes back with a bang.
But as different counties take different approaches to the competition, what counties are in need of a big campaign?
The Rossies have been the springtime yo-yo team, alternating between the top two tiers every year since their 2017 relegation from Division 1.
They return to the top table this year under a new regime, with Kildare man Davy Burke taking the reins. Burke, one of the most exciting young managers in the game at present, takes on his second senior inter-county role, having previously guided Wicklow to promotion from Division 4.
The Connacht outfit will boast a blend of established stars with provincial medals in their back pockets, but also members of the team that reached the U20 All-Ireland final two years ago.
This League campaign is important for the development of this group on two fronts; retaining their spot in Division 1, and blooding young talent at the very top level.
Division 2’s consensus second favourites behind Dublin, the Oak Leaf County are under pressure to back up their hugely impressive 2022 campaign.
Rory Gallagher built this team into All-Ireland contenders, but teams will be paying them much closer attention this term.
The Ulster champions could be without their Glen contingent for a number of weeks, should the All-Ireland club final be replayed, and Gallagher knows they will require greater depth for this team to reach the next level.
Derry only made three substitutions in last July’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Galway, and the management will need to build more trust in their reserves.
If that transpires in the coming weeks, it will be a successful start to the year. Promotion to Division 1 would be another step in the right direction for a team who were in Division 4 as recently as 2019.
Dublin’s relegation on the final day made all the headlines last March, but Kildare’s demotion came in spite of an impressive campaign.
Led by the young attacking duo of Jimmy Hyland and Darragh Kirwan, the Lilywhites held their own against the big guns, going unbeaten in their home games when Kerry, Dublin and Monaghan came to Newbridge.
Glenn Ryan and his all-star backroom team will know the importance of returning to Division 1 as soon as possible, as this team looks for its big breakthrough.
They open away to Dublin at Croke Park, bidding to atone for their Leinster final no-show last summer. Judging by the strength of their panel, they should be in the mix for promotion over the next two months. And this team will be judged on results.
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