One of the most intriguing aspects of Division 4 is the fact that there is the guarantee that a side outside the top three tiers of league football will be part of the All-Ireland series in the new look championship.

With London, Leitrim and Sligo (New York don't partake in the league) on one side of the provincial draw, detractors to the new championship have held this up as one of the oversights of the new structure.

Sligo and Leitrim could well be the sides facing off for a place in the Connacht final – though London and New York respectively will have plenty to say about that – and they meet in the final round of fixtures.

That too throws up another aspect of the revised calendar.

This year’s league finals are fixed for the first weekend of April. A week later, Sligo, Leitrim and all of the Division 4 football counties begin their championship campaigns. There’s much we won’t know until the dust settles.

Staying with Sligo and Leitrim, both will be hoping to progress from last year where they pushed for promotion before finishing third and fourth respectively.

What can Andy Moran achieve in his second year in charge?

Andy Moran’s first year in charge was solid. They won more than they lost – the final round defeat to Sligo was perhaps their most disappointing performance – and Connacht was around about what they expected – a win over London followed by a heavy Galway defeat.

Failure to reach Croke Park was a disappointment in the Tailteann Cup – a morale-boosting win over Antrim was followed by an agonising shootout defeat to Sligo, but Moran’s second year in charge will be crystalise his tenure.

The Yeats County for their part did make it to Croker last year, pushing Cavan all the way for a place in the Tailteann Cup decider, and Tony McEntee seems to be building on a solid foundation.

Sligo players celebrate their penalty shootout win over Sligo in last year's Tailteann Cup

Their two league defeats were to the sides tipped by most from the outside for promotion – Tipperary and Cavan – where their average points per game (118) was only bettered across the four divisions by Galway.

The Connacht defeat to Roscommon was a reminder of the gulf between the divisions, and the first game against Laois – keen to atone for a dreadful 2022 – could set the tone.

McEntee’s 38-man squad features 13 new additions from last year, including six members of last summer’s Connacht championship winning U20 squad.

Speaking of Laois, manager Billy Sheehan and their supporters must be humming along to the 90’s pop classic from D:Ream, for things can really only get better.

Laois will be without Ross Munnelly after the long-serving player recently brought the curtain down on a 20-year inter-county career

Spring relegation was followed by just two more matches. Defeat to Wicklow in Leinster and a first-round exit in the Tailteann Cup at the hands of Westmeath.

In an effort to unearth new talent, Sheehan added 21 players to his panel at the start of the year, none of whom were part of the set-up last year - Carlow withdrew from their fixture with the O'Moore County owing to "sickness, injuries and Sigerson Cup commitments".

The Leinster preliminary clash with Wexford will surely have been marked on the calendar a long way’s out, though that may be a booby prize with Dublin awaiting in the next round.

The Yellowbellies have been languishing in recent years, very much in the shadow of the hurlers, but the night games at Chadwicks Wexford Park, starting with the opener against London, could bring a little more spark to their games.

Will the lights add more sparkle for the Wexford footballers?

John Hegarty is the man in charge now, and while he was part of a Wexford team that rose from the bottom tier to the top during his inter-county playing days, he is realistic to know that ambitions are much lower these days.

"My starting point is I'd like to see Wexford football return to a place where there's a little bit more pride in it, and that kids aspire to play with the Wexford footballers," he said after his appointment last September.

Another new man in charge is Oisín McConville, a somewhat unexpected appointment by Wicklow.

Relegated from Division 3 with one win, and a similar return in the Tailteann Cup points to "room for improvement" but the appointment of the former All-Ireland winner with Armagh could be the shot in the arm they need.

Oisin McConville is the man in the Wicklow hotseat

It’s a tricky looking fixture list for the Garden County, but finishing with away games to Waterford and Carlow means any bit of momentum at all at the start and they could build into the summer.

The final W team, Waterford, will be looking to consign 2022 to history. Between Division 4, Munster and the Tailteann Cup, they failed to register a single win.

Defensively they weren’t totally at sea, but it was at the other end where they struggled in tight situations, losing three of their league games by a single point.

Even though it was McGrath Cup and some experimental lineups, a 17-point defeat to Limerick, followed by a 13-point loss to Tipperary wasn’t the ideal lead-in to the new campaign.

London were the story of the early part of the 2022 season – three wins in their first three outings – before coming up short against Leitrim (Connacht) and Sligo (four-point Tailteann Cup defeat).

Can London build on the 2022 green shoots?

As ever with the Exiles, much will depend on the panel available to manager Michael Maher. Starting at Wexford could offer them something of a decent start again, though their first two home games, against Leitrim (round 2) and Sligo (round 4) will give a good indication of their strength this year.

Carlow’s heady summer of 2017 feels much more than six years ago, but their well-travelled manager Niall Carew will be hoping for more than the one league victory mustered 12 months ago.

Jordan Morrissey is a key figure for the Barrowsiders

There were two decent wins in the Tailteann Cup, including a gutsy showing against eventual winners Westmeath.

In Jordan Morrissey they possess one of the outstanding talents in the division, and with trips to Fraher Field, Ruislip and Wexford Park, could well pick up more points on the road than at Netwatch Cullen Park

Division 4 Round One fixtures

Saturday, 28 January

Carlow v Wicklow, Netwatch Cullen Park, 7pm

Wexford v London, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 7pm

Sunday, 29 January

Leitrim v Waterford, Avant Money Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada, 1pm

Sligo v Laois, Markievicz Park 2pm

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