herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Connaughton to the rescue - 20 months later

Gary Connaughton
Gary Connaughton

GARY CONNAUGHTON will start his first Westmeath game in 20 months against Kildare this Sunday.

The former All Star goalkeeper became a Westmeath selector with the appointment of Tom Cribbin but subsequently came out of retirement following a cruciate injury to Stephen Gallagher.

Now a shorter-term injury to Darren Quinn means Connaughton will resume his old No 1 role for the next two Division Two rounds - away to Kildare, then Meath on Saturday week. His last competitive outing was a qualifier loss to Fermanagh in late June, 2013.

"Darren Quinn is carrying a quad injury," Cribbin explained. "He pulled it last weekend and is out for three weeks. Definitely the next two weekends and it depends on how it's going then.

"It's on his kicking leg - outfield it mightn't be as big a problem. Darren has struggled with this over the last number of years, so we need to get it 100 per cent."

James Dolan definitely won't feature for the rest of the league - a lateral ligament knee injury sustained against Galway will sideline him for anywhere between six and ten weeks.

"It would be crazy to try and rush him back for a last league match," Cribbin said.

"We thought it was cruciate at the time because he knew straight away when he went down that he was after doing some damage. His leg was fully stretched and the weight of the player landed on him - fully accidental. He felt it click and thought it was gone."

Scans confirmed a more benign diagnosis, with no surgery required.

Cribbin lamented the loss of a "top-notch player who can play in any position", adding: "He has an uncanny talent from wing-back to come up on the blind side, straight up the middle … and once he's one on one, he usually finishes it."

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