Dublin are chasing a 12th title in 13 attempts. Kildare have shown well in the league but can they challenge the Metropolitans? Can Louth or Meath make a final and what challenge will Wexford and Westmeath provide? SportsNewsIRELAND looks at the 2017 campaign:
Provisional Fixtures (Subject to Change):
Sunday 21st May – (Preliminary Round) – Carlow vs Wexford (3pm Carlow), Laois vs Longford (3pm Portlaoise), Louth vs Wicklow (3pm Parnell Park)
Saturday 3rd June – (Quarter-Final) – Carlow/Wexford vs Dublin (7pm Portlaoise/Wexford)
Sunday 4th June – (Quarter-Finals) – Kildare vs Laois/Longford (3pm Tullamore), Louth/Wicklow vs Meath (3pm Parnell Park/Aughrim)
Sunday 11th June – (Quarter-Final) – Offaly vs Westmeath (3pm Tullamore)
Saturday 17th June – (Semi-Final) – Kildare/Laois/Longford vs Louth/Meath/Wicklow (7pm Venue TBC)
Sunday 18th June – (Semi-Final) – Carlow/Dublin/Wexford vs Offaly/Westmeath (4pm Venue TBC)
Sunday 16th July – (FINAL!) – (4pm Croke Park)
DUBLIN – (CHAMPIONS!!!) – Betting 1/20
Their closest challengers are 16/1. Dublin are going for three All-Irelands in a row. And they are seeking their seventh consecutive Leinster crown – which has never been achieved. And their ‘squad’ won the O’Byrne Cup.
Manager: JIM GAVIN
Main Man: BRIAN FENTON
One To Watch: NIALL SCULLY
KILDARE – (Runners-Up) – Betting 20/1
The closest challengers to Dublin. Kildare are going in a positive direction and had a good league campaign. Cian O’Neill is starting to reap the benefits from a young squad but might just be too soon to challenge Dublin.
Manager: CIAN O’NEILL
Main Man: KEVIN FEELY
One To Watch: DANIEL FLYNN
WESTMEATH – (Semi-Finalists) – Betting 100/1
Their provincial performances have been a marked contrast to league displays. Westmeath have been in the last two finals but the draw sees them scheduled to face Dublin in the semi-final. The qualifiers their best route for a run.
Manager: TOM CRIBBIN
Main Man: JOHN HESLIN
One To Watch: MARK McCALLON
LOUTH – (Semi-Finalists) – Betting 300/1
After reaching the O’Byrne Cup Final, Louth will consider a Leinster semi-final as their minimum target. Have improved vastly in 12 months and Colin Kelly has unearthed new players. They beat Meath in January and will look for the same again.
Manager: COLIN KELLY
Main Man: RYAN BURNS
One To Watch: TOMMY DURNIN
WEXFORD – (Quarter-Finalists) – Betting 200/1
A dismal period for the Slaneysiders may be turning a corner. With ‘Banty’ at the helm, Wexford are enjoying their football. Discarded Division Four opposition to easily be promoted and if they overcome Carlow, will enjoy bring the Dubs to Wexford Park.
Manager: SEAMUS McENANEY
Main Man: DAITHI WATERS
One To Watch: JOHN LEACY
LAOIS – (Quarter-Finalists) – Betting 100/1
Traditional quarter-finalists in the province, the O’Moore men will be hoping for a positive summer after a disappointing league. Home advantage gives them the edge against Longford but Kildare might be a task too far.
Manager: PETER CREEDON
Main Man: DONIE KINGSTON
One To Watch: DENIS BOOTH
OFFALY – (Quarter-Finalists) – Betting 300/1
With such a proud history, it’s hard to guess what way the Faithful County will go. They are a division higher than Westmeath but haven’t a notable win over the Lakesiders. This will be their target match and they only fell by one point last year.
Manager: PAT FLANAGAN
Main Man: NIGEL DUNNE
One To Watch: DAVID HANLON
MEATH – (Quarter-Finalists) – Betting 16/1
The qualifiers could give Meath a run of summer games and they have become unpredictable. League promotion contenders, they have also produced flat displays along with delivering great results. Louth will be a tough assignment should it happen.
Manager: ANDY McENTEE
Main Man: DONAL LENIHAN
One To Watch: WILLIE CARRY
WICKLOW – (Preliminary Round) – Betting 1000/1
Wicklow are struggling and an opening round win in Parnell Park would be a massive boost. If Louth were struggling for confidence, the Garden County would be fancied but hard to see them avoiding Round One of the qualifiers.
Manager: JOHNNY MAGEE
Main Man: DARREN HAYDEN
One To Watch: SEANIE FURLONG
CARLOW – (Preliminary Round) – Betting 1000/1
They beat Limerick in the league only to fall to London. Haven’t won in Leinster since 2011 and face a Wexford team who romped to promotion in the same division. Will be looking for a strong home support for a chance to play Dublin.
Manager: TURLOUGH O’BRIEN
Main Man: BRENDAN MURPHY
One To Watch: PAUL BRODERICK
LONGFORD – (Preliminary Round) – Betting 300/1
Their biggest results have always come in the qualifiers with recent wins over Derry, Down and Monaghan last year. The midlanders have struggled to bring that form in the Leinster championship and will find their trip to Portlaoise difficult.
Manager: DENIS CONNERTON
Main Man: ROBBIE SMYTH
One To Watch: PADRAIG McCORMACK