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O'Dowd hands 'recovering' Reilly Royals' armband

MEATH manager Mick O'Dowd is confident that Kevin Reilly is on the road to finally ending the injury torment which has blighted his career in recent seasons.

In fact, so sure is the new Royals boss of a permanent return to health for his defensive totem, that he has named him as captain for the season.

Reilly travelled to Umea in northern Sweden last November, where he was operated on by renowned Achilles' tendon specialist Hakan Alfredson in a bid to finally correct a long-standing injury and O'Dowd expects a return to action within "four to six weeks".

"We're very confident in the medical team that we have," O'Dowd told the Evening Herald.

"Kevin is a super athlete and he knows his body so we're hoping he will come through alright."

Similarly, O'Dowd expects a league reappearance of Meath's other ever-injured star, Shane O'Rourke.

"Shane will be back," he insisted. "When, I don't know, but we hope he will play some part in the league."

Former captains Stephen Bray and Seamus Kenny are due back in action from thigh and knee injuries respectively in roughly a month, and should be available for the lion's share of their Allianz League Division 3 campaign. But Shane McAnarney will miss the entire programme with a hip injury.

O'Dowd used a total 29 players during the O'Byrne Cup, but has already forumulated a league panel and won't use the spring for anything other than his immediate aim -- promotion.

"We won't be using it for anything," he explained. "The aim has to be to get back up, so we'll be picking the best team in each game.

"The priority is to try and get back into Division 3 so the players that are doing well will be rewarded.

"Our aims are the same as all the other teams in the Division, and that has to be to go up.

"All we're focused on is the first round of the league against Monaghan and after that, we'll just be looking at the second round of the league. That's all we can do at this stage."