Westmeath's Dolan set for substitute role

Dessie Dolan is poised to make his long-awaited return for Westmeath in their Leinster SFC quarter-final against Wicklow at Tullamore on Sunday (throw-in 3.30pm).

Dolan, who has been listed among the substitues for this weekend's game, recently rejoined the panel after being absent from the set-up since the end of last year's Championship.

The attacking ace withdrew from the Westmeath ranks after his father, Dessie Dolan Snr, was not granted an interview for the position of Westmeath manager when the post became vacant last year.

Meanwhile, there is good news for goalkeeper Gary Connaughton who is one of nine changes in personnel to the team which lost to Tipperary - 2-13 to 1-10 - in the last round of the National League.

Connaughton has been passed fully fit for Sunday's encounter, despite picking up a calf injury in training a fortnight ago. He replaces Stephen Gallagher between the posts.

In defence, Francis Boyle replaces Conor Jordan at right corner back and the 19-year-old Kieran Martin has been handed his Championship debut at centre-back.

Doran Harte has also been included at left half-back, with Stephen O'Donoghue and Daniel McDermott the players to lose out.

Paul Bannon replaces Gary Flanagan at midfield, with Paul Greville moving from centre-forward to right corner forward, Conor Lynam will don the number 11 jersey, and Garryowen rugby player Alan Gaughan comes in at left half-forward.

Paddy Gilsenan loses out at right corner forward, while the multi-talented Denis Glennon makes a welcome return at top of the left.

In total, Westmeath interim manager Pat Flanagan has selected four Championship debutants - Martin, John Gaffey, Gaughan and dual player Greville.

The Lakesiders lost all seven of their National League games under recently departed manager Brendan Hackett, and relegation from Division 2 had the players at a very low ebb.

Flanagan, who has David Mitchell and Paul Conway assisting him, told the Westmeath Examiner: "There's no point saying the players were in good spirits when we took over because they were very low on confidence, and that's perfectly understandable given the results they've had over recent times.

"They also received a fair amount of criticism for those results, so it hasn't been easy on the players. I knew Westmeath had some very good footballers and that the confidence issue would probably be the biggest hurdle in our way, but we've been working on this with the players, and I think we're seeing some definite improvements.

"They've done well in the challenge matches and I think it was very beneficial to play Dublin. The pace of that game and the intensity at which Dublin play will stand us in good stead. Dublin beat us by six points in the end, but we scored 1-19, and that's very positive, although we recognise the need to address the amount of goals we conceded, too, because you won't win many Championship games conceding five goals, which we did in the challenge match against Dublin.

"All I ask of the players this weekend is that we play to our best. That way, we can't leave the field with too many disappointments, and I believe that our best will be good enough to beat Wicklow."

Westmeath got the better of Wicklow at this very stage last year, securing a hard-fought 0-16 to 1-10 victory after extra-time. The winners of Sunday's game will meet Louth or Kildare in a June 26 semi-final.

WESTMEATH (SFC v Wicklow): G Connaughton; F Boyle, D O'Donoghue, J Gaffey; M Ennis (capt), K Martin, D Harte; D Duffy, P Bannon; J Smyth, C Lynam, A Gaughan; P Greville, M Flanagan, D Glennon.

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