Monday 11 December 2017

Meath have full deck but changes likely

MICK O'DOWD will have a full deck to choose from - apart from all of his long-term absentees - as he attempts to resuscitate Meath's faltering campaign in this Saturday's Croke Park qualifier against Armagh.

The Royals were left more psychologically scarred than physically wounded by their Leinster final horror show against Dublin 11 days ago.

Brian McMahon was through the wars during their Leinster campaign, making an early exit with concussion against Kildare and then being forced off with a facial injury during the second half against Dublin.

However, the rookie forward is once more available for selection as, indeed, is Mickey Burke after the furore over allegations that his finger was bitten during that late Leinster final melee.

McMahon started in the half-forward line against the Dubs whereas Burke was introduced to the defence at the start of the second half.

It's unlikely that O'Dowd will announce his line-up in advance of Saturday's Round 4B qualifier - the first of a 'back door' double-header at HQ, with Meath/Armagh at 5pm followed by the clash of Kildare and Monaghan at 7pm.

This will obviously fuel speculation that O'Dowd is set to perform surgery to the team that flopped, to a surprising degree, against the rampant All-Ireland champions.

Meanwhile, several Westmeath hurlers from St Oliver Plunkett's have threatened to quit the county squad in a row over club fixtures.

Westmeath CCC recently docked the Mullingar-based club two points and fined them €500 for their failure to field in a county SHC match against Raharney, fixed for a 
Tuesday, 48 hours after they had faced Crookedwood the previous Sunday.

"We've been on to the GPA about this as a matter of player welfare and they are shocked with how we have been treated," goalkeeper Peter Collins told the Westmeath Examiner.

"If the club decides to pay the fine, that's one matter. But the players don't believe that we should have to pay any fine, or that we should have to accept a walkover."

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