MICK O’Dowd is again gearing towards a Meath Championship opener without a faction of his most important players.
The Royals play Wicklow in Navan next Sunday and Bryan Menton, Mickey Newman, Shane O’Rourke, Kevin Reilly and Conor Gillespie are all out.
Newman, Menton, and O’Rourke are all in casts with broken fingers (Newman’s injury is a thumb) which each are scheduled to have removed after the visit of Johnny Magee’s team and are expected to be available for a Leinster semi-final against Westmeath or Wexford should Meath progress.
Gillespie, who missed all of 2014 with a cruciate injury, is enduring hassle with his other knee of late that may linger.
“His other knee kind of flared up a little bit and there was a little bit of swelling,” explained O’Dowd.
“It was assessed, there is no significant injury there to his ligament but there is an element of wear and tear on the knee because of a break he had when he was 17 or 18 that has complicated it.
“That’s being worked on to try and get that right.”
Kevin Reilly’s situation is even more complex.
Having undergone major Achilles and hip surgeries over the past two years, the former Meath captain has struggled for any sort of clear run of fitness.
“He’s just realistically going short term, how he’s feeling one week to the next.
“He loves the game, he loves playing for Meath, he loves playing for his club – he’s desperately trying hard to just get back.
“Kevin has given such service to Meath, he’s such an incredible fella inside the Meath dressing-room, it’s as much hoping he can come back for himself.
“But in terms of us, I’d be kind of looking at him as a bonus if he was back playing rather than checking in before every game.”