Meath's Menton handed tough job
MEATH footballers must try and stifle the aerial dominance of Kildare target man Tomás O'Connor without their own ‘lord of the square', Kevin Reilly.
As speculated upon earlier in the week, Reilly has been ruled out with an Achilles injury that has prevented the Navan O'Mahony's man from training properly since the Royals crushed Carlow at the second attempt.
The resultant defensive reshuffle sees Bryan Menton revert to full-back, with Ciarán Lenehan recalled at corner-back for Sunday's opening Leinster SFC semi-final at Croke Park (2.0).
Manager Seamus McEnaney has been known, in the past, to make 11th hour changes but presuming there is no dramatic recovery from Reilly, it leaves the versatile Menton with the onerous task of tackling O'Connor.
The Clane powerhouse has emerged as a pivotal player in Kildare's game plan - not for his scoring returns (or often lack of) but for the havoc he can wreak as a high-fielding assist king.
That said, for all his history of injury problems, Reilly is rated among the top full-backs in the country and has enjoyed a reasonable share of success when marking O'Connor twice last summer and again during this year's league mini-classic in Navan. Now that responsibility passes to Menton.
The other main talking point is that Stephen Bray remains absent from the attack after a hamstring-afflicted month, but he is among the replacements. Meanwhile, stricken Meath captain Seamus Kenny was due to undergo reconstructive knee surgery today to repair his torn cruciate - Limerick veteran John Galvin was also going under the knife today for a similar operation.
WEXFORD captain David Murphy returns to their defence for Sunday's Leinster semi-final showdown with Dublin (4.0), having missed their two-game duel against Longford with food poisoning. Murphy's centre-back recall sees Niall Murphy drop to the bench and Brian Malone switch to the corner, while Paddy Byrne and Ciarán Lyng come in to the attack for Conor Carty and PJ Banville.
LOUTH boss Peter Fitzpatrick could be forced to miss tomorrow's qualifier trip to Westmeath after being hospitalised on Wednesday night with a suspected flared-up kidney stone.
His team will almost certainly be without 2010 All Star midfielder Paddy Keenan, who has been troubled with a knee injury since the defeat to Dublin.
TYRONE have named an unchanged team for tomorrow's Ulster SFC semi-final against Donegal in Clones (4.30), despite recent injury doubts over full-back Justin McMahon and wing-forward Ronan McNabb.
MEATH (SF v Kildare): D Gallagher; D Keogan, B Menton, C Lenehan; D Tobin, S McAnarney, M Burke; C Gillespie, B Meade; A Forde, D Carroll, G Reilly; B Farrell, J Sheridan, C Ward.
WEXFORD (SF v Dublin): A Masterson; R Tierney, G Molloy, B Malone; A Flynn, D Murphy, L Chin; D Waters, R Quinlivan; P Byrne, S Roche, B Brosnan; C Lyng, E Bradley, R Barry.
TYRONE (SF v Donegal): P McConnell; A McCrory, Justin McMahon, D Carlin; C McCarron, C Gormley, S O’Neill; Joe McMahon, C Cavanagh; R McNabb, M Donnelly, P Harte; M Penrose, S O’Neill, O Mulligan.
TIPPERARY (SF v Offaly): P Fitzgerald; A Morrissey, P Codd, C McDonald; B Fox, R Kiely, A Campbell; G Hannigan, H Coghlan; P Austin, P Acheson, D Leahy; A Maloney, M Quinlivan, R Ryan.
ARMAGH (SF v Roscommon): P McEvoy; A Mallon, B Donaghy, D McKenna; F Moriarty, C McKeever, P Duffy; M Mackin, K Toner; A Forker, K Dyas, A Duffy; J Clarke, C Rafferty, B Mallon.
LIMERICK (SH v Antrim): N Quaid; S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon; W McNamara, D O’Grady, G O’Mahony; J Ryan, P Browne; S Dowling, B Geary, D Breen; G Mulcahy, N Moran, S Tobin.
WEXFORD (SH v Carlow): E Martin; E Moore, M O’Hanlon, K Rossiter; D Stamp, C Kenny, R Kehoe; D Redmond, D O’Keefe; PJ Nolan, G Sinnott, H Kehoe; P Morris, D Lyng, R Jacob.