New York will be looking to upset Sligo in the Connacht football opener, while in hurling action Carlow advanced to the Christy Ring quarter-final, writes James McMahon.

SUNDAY 7 MAY

Connacht SFC preliminary round

2015 New York v Sligo, Gaelic Park

And so the football championship begins.

The Bronx is again the setting for the opening contest, with the home side looking for their first win in the province. After giving Roscommon a scare 12 months ago, New York will be hoping that on their astro surface they can get over a Sligo side short of some key personnel.

Already minus the services of star forward and prolific scorer Niall Murphy with a hamstring injury, the Yeats County will also be without Kevin McDonnell, Luke Nicholson and Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch as the trio have exams the day after the match.

All told, Sligo boss Niall Carew is not happy and has criticised the Connacht Council's scheduling of the game.   

Speaking on the RTÉ GAA Podcast, Carew was clearly dismayed with the authorities’ decision, and their unwillingness to change.

"In the wisdom of the Connacht Council, they fixed this game right in the middle of exams," he said.

"It was cast in stone seemingly with no way of shifting it.

"I can’t ask players to be home in time to sit their exams on Monday morning at 9 o’clock when the game is at half 8 Irish time Sunday night.

"It’s a bit of a disaster for us. We just have to get on with it."

Sligo's preparation for the game has seen them train exclusively on astro-turf pitches at the Connacht Council GAA centre in Bekan, and on St Loman's GAA pitch in Mullingar.

Tom Cunniffe

The New York squad boasts some familiar names, including Dublin hurler Danny Sutcliffe, Mayo defender Tom Cunniffe, Donegal's Ross Wherity and Conor McGraynor from Wicklow. Goalkeeper and vice-captain Vinny Cadden is a native of Sligo.

It's four years since Sligo were shocked by London in Connacht and they will be keen to avoid another upset. New York are shortening in the betting and are now around 11-4.

New York: Vinny Cadden; Tom Cunniffe, David Cunnane, Peter Witherow; Gerard McCartan, David Culhane, Keith Quinn; Brian Gallagher, Shane Hogan; Danny Sutcliffe; Conor McGraynor, Ross Wherity; Daniel McKenna, Shane O’Connor, Eugene McVerry.

Sligo: Aidan Devaney; Ross Donavan, Charlie Harrison, Eoin McHugh; Keelan Cawley, Brendan Egan, John Kelly; Cian Breheny, Adrian McIntyre; Neil Ewing (capt.), Mark Breheny, Kyle Cawley; Stephen Coen, Pat Hughes, Adrian Marren. 

Rossies nearly got caught in 2016

The prize for the winner is a date with Mayo in the Connacht quarter-final on 21 May - a match you can follow live on RTÉ television and radio, as well as here with us on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App.   

ONLINE 
Live blog on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App on New York v Sligo 2000 on Sunday.

RADIO 
Live commentary on New York v Sligo from 2015 on RTÉ Radio 1

SATURDAY 6 MAY

Christy Ring Cup quarter-finals
RES Kildare 0-15 Carlow 1-24, St Conleth's Park, Newbridge 
1300 (Sunday) London v Down, Páirc na hÉireann 

Nicky Rackard Cup quarter-finals
RES Armagh 4-20 Longford 0-12, Crossmaglen
RES Monaghan 1-16 Donegal 1-12, Inniskeen

Lory Meagher Cup Round 3
RES Leitrim 1-12 Lancashire 0-14, Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada
RES Cavan 0-09 Sligo 1-20, Kingspan Breffni Park
RES Fermanagh 3-09 Warwickshire 6-16, Brewster Park