1 April 2017; Micheál Daly of Galway in action against Paul McNamara of Sligo during the EirGrid Connacht GAA Football U21 Championship Final match between Galway and Sligo at Markievicz Park in Sligo. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

(Photo – Galway GAA)

Galway’s opening game of the 2018 football season tonight (Wednesday, 3rd January) has been moved to the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence, Bekan instead of Tourlestrane. 

Manager Kevin Walsh commences his third seaons and gets a look at his charges for the first time as they start the defence of the Connacht FBD League.

Three players who took part in the 2017 All-Ireland Senior Football Quarter-Final against Kerry are involved while Walsh also names four under 21s from the team that reached last year’s decider.

Declan Kyne and Tom Flynn are the only two starters from Croke Park last July while substitute Cathal Sweeney gets a start at right wing back.

Under 21 goalkeeper Ronan O’Beolain takes his place between the sticks while Sean Andy O’Ceallaigh’s positioning at full back will raise interest after his impressive display against Dublin in the 2017 final.

Two attackers from Gerry Fahy’s charges also appear on the 40 as Peter Cooke and Sean Kelly are named at 11 and 12.

David Wynne was another of last year’s Galway senior panelists and he plays at left wing back with Johnny Duane taking the centre and Evan Wynne at corner back.

Annaghdown’s Kieran Duggan partners Flynn in midfield, Johnny Maher plays at number 10 while Frankie Burke, Patrick Sweeney and Adrian Varley complete the full forward line.

New Sligo manager Cathal Corey has eight of the under 21s who lost 3-20 to 2-14 to Galway after extra-time in last year’s Connacht under 21 Football Final but also names seven from the team that went down 0-14 to 1-9 to Meath in Round Two of the senior qualifiers.

Aidan Devaney is in goal, Keelan Cawley and Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch are the wing backs, Patrick O’Connor is in midfield with Neil Ewing, Adrian Marren and Pat Hughes up front.

O’Kelly-Lynch and O’Connor were also part of the under 21 squad and they are joined by team mates Eddie McGuinness, Mikey Gordon and Darragh Cummins in defence, midfielder Paul Kilcoyne with Jodie O’Reilly and Sean Carrabine named in attack.

Eoin McHugh at corner back and Finnian Cawley at centre forward complete the line-up.

The 2018 Connacht FBD League will be played in a round-robin format between the five counties.  No college sides are competing and all games will be completed by January 21st with the top two contesting the final in February.

Galway face Mayo the following Sunday (7th) before meeting Leitrim and Roscommon in consecutive weeks.

Throw-in for tonight’s game is 7pm.  Leitrim host Roscommon in their Centre of Excellence at the same time.

Galway: Ronan Ó Beoláin; Declan Kyne, Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh, Evan Wynne; Cathal Sweeney, Johnny Duane, David Wynne; Tom Flynn, Kieran Duggan; John Maher, Peter Cooke, Sean Kelly; Frankie Burke, Patrick Sweeney, Adrian Varley.

Sligo: Aidan Devaney; Eoin McHugh, Eddie McGuinness, Mikey Gordon; Keelan Cawley, Darragh Cummins, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch; Patrick O’Connor, Paul Kilcoyne; Neil Ewing, Finnian Cawley, Jodie O’Reilly; Adrian Marren, Pat Hughes, Sean Carrabine.

Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo)