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Sunday 4 December 2016

Injury problems easing for Royals

Mick O'Dowd
Mick O'Dowd

MEATH manager Mick O'Dowd intimated that he expects to field a more experienced team against Westmeath in the Leinster SFC semi-final in under a fortnight's time than was the case last Sunday in Navan, writes Conor McKeon.

An unfortunate spate of injuries deprived O'Dowd (above) of half a dozen intended starters and he was forced into fielding six Championship debutants in Meath's narrow win over Wicklow in Páirc Tailteann.

Conor McGill, one of O'Dowd's most consistent performers in this year's League at full-back, was involved in a work accident, bringing the number of finger/thumb injuries in the Meath team - bizarrely - to four.

"He just nearly lost the top of his finger," O'Dowd explained.

"But thankfully, he didn't. But it was pretty bad. The wound is healing. He didn't break it."

Mickey Newman - who broke a thumb in training - played no part on Sunday but O'Dowd predicted that his free-taker would be available for Westmeath, as would McGill.

Bryan Menton - who suffered a broken finger in a challenge match against Cavan - and Kevin Reilly started in reserve on Sunday but such was the danger posed by Wicklow substitute, Conor McGraynor, at full-forward when the match entered its final throes, both were required to make unexpected appearance.

Reilly, in particular, was a surprise participant, given his recent struggles with a hip injury, with O'Dowd stating previously that any appearance from his former captain this summer would be "a bonus."

"I suppose the thinking there was...ideally Kevin wouldn't have come in," O'Dowd admitted afterwards.

Mickey Burke could come back into contention after coming on at half-time although O'Dowd admitted that: "There is still a doubt about Conor Gillespie and Shane O'Rourke at this stage," ahead of the Westmeath match.

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