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Royals circle their wagons

NEW Meath manager Mick O'Dowd has recalled several established names for Sunday's must-win Allianz League Division Three trip to Roscommon.

Fit-again skipper Kevin Reilly along with high-profile forward duo Joe Sheridan and Cian Ward are all restored to the starting team while there is also a Hyde Park call-up for Summerhill newcomer David Larkin.

All four came off the bench during last Saturday night's disastrous home defeat to Cavan. The Royals trailed by 0-10 to 0-1 at half-time in that game, at which point Reilly, Larkin and Ward were all introduced, and the subsequent improvement-of-sorts - Meath eventually lost by 0-15 to 1-6 - helps to explain their retention now.

Reilly was introduced at midfield - instead of his usual full-back berth - and that's where he has been selected once more with Brian Meade making way.

The prodigal captain will be making his first competitive start since last year's Leinster final defeat to Dublin. The Navan O'Mahonys clubman has been bedevilled by a long-standing Achilles injury that eventually led to surgery in Sweden last November.

Given their meagre first half return against Cavan, it's no surprise that O'Dowd has focussed his scalpel primarily on attack. Graham Reilly reverts to centre-forward, freeing space inside for the recalled Ward and Sheridan, while Larkin gets his big starting chance on the wing.

The players making way are Stephen Crosby, Paddy Gilsenan and Brian Farrell.

The injury-wracked Royals have endured a real Jekyll and Hyde start to the season, losing two of their three outings in the Division Three backwaters (against Monaghan and Cavan) by heavy margins.


KYLE CONEY will make his long-awaited return for Tyrone against Cork on Sunday. Coney has not played for the Red Hands since getting injured in last year's NFL.

Colm Cavanagh and Ronan O'Neill are also back for the clash with the Rebels to make their first starts of the season while Conor Gormley and Cathal McCarron are drafted back into the full-back line.


THE Leinster Council are set to investigate an incident after Wednesday night's Leinster U-21 FC quarter-final in Mullingar where inter-county referee Derek Fahy had stones thrown at him by a disgruntled home supporter.

Wexford progressed via a last minute goal in extra-time after Westmeath's Kelvin Reilly had been sent off. Fahy, acting as linesman on the night, had consulted with Kildare referee Fergal Barry before the red card decision.

A handful of stones were thrown at Fahy just after that, and it is unclear if he was struck by them. The incident is understood to be mentioned in the referee's report, with Westmeath likely to be asked to name the stone-thrower. Westmeath officials have completed their own investigation into a serious incident in a recent minor match where a Shandonagh player was left unconscious after sustaining a blow to the head.

The player had be airlifted to Tallaght Hospital but is understood to be now making a recovery. A Ballynacargy player has been suspended for 80 weeks.


KILDARE are unlikely to accede to a request from Laois to play their Leinster U-21 semi-final in Portlaoise on Wednesday week. With no appropriate lights in O'Connor Park in Tullamore, the Leinster Council have fixed it for Parnell Park at 7.30.


TYRONE officials have dished out an unspecified suspension, believed to be lengthy, to the spectator alleged to have spat at Donegal's Karl Lacey at the end of last Sunday's NFL tie in Omagh.

The board has not named the individual nor given any details of the punishment, but Tyrone chairman Ciaran McLaughlin has reiterated his "disgust" at the incident, having visited the Donegal dressing-room with manager Mickey Harte to apologise immediately afterwards.

"I categorically condemn the incident. I'm not sure what an individual is thinking when he does something like what has been alleged," McLaughlin said.

MEATH (SF v Roscommon) - P O'Rourke; D Keogan, B Menton, S Curran; C Lenehan, E Harrington, D Dalton; C Gillespie, K Reilly; D Larkin, G Reilly, P Byrne; C Ward, J Sheridan, M Newman.