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Saturday 3 December 2016

New look Royals may not be tested

MEATH v WICKLOW

(Páirc Tailteann Navan, Tomorrow, 3.30)

IT was put to Mick O'Dowd recently that Meath's route to this year's Leinster SFC final couldn't be more accommodating and that perhaps, his team could do it without burying the throttle or giving away too many state secrets.

O'Dowd surmised that every team on the half of the Leinster draw unoccupied by Dublin probably felt it within their capabilities to qualify for the provincial decider.

Still, whatever about not giving the game away, he'd surely have liked the option of not having to play six Championship debuts in the first round.

Davy Dalton, Nicky Judge, Brian Power and Harry Rooney will all make their first championship appearance of any description, while James McEntee and Joey Wallace will be making maiden starts.

All of which has been necessitated by the unlucky, but seemingly perennial, outbreak of ill-health to a half-dozen players who, all things being equal, would probably figure in O'Dowd's ideal 15. Wicklow have no such depth of options and with Leighton Glynn and Seánie Furlong both unavailable to Johnny Magee this spring, they finished above only London in football's spring rankings.

JUDGED

Meath, whilst more disappointed than most not to get promotion into Division 1, know that their summer will be judged on their ability to make that Leinster final and vitally, their performance therein.

Last year, Meath wiped Carlow in Dr Cullen Park on the fly and without bearing any resemblance to the way they play Kildare in the following match.

Wicklow 2015 aren't quite Carlow 2014 but the infusion of some early-game jitters to an inexperienced team looks about the peak of their powers.

ODDS: Meath , Draw , Wicklow

VERDICT: Meath

LEINSTER SFC quarter-final

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