Four debutants for Meath

Meath manager Colm Coyle has included four championship debutants in his team for tomorrow's Leinster SFC first round clash with Carlow at Croke Park (throw-in 3.50pm).

Goalkeeper Mick Ahern, left corner back Cormac McGill, midfielder Brian Meade and right half-forward Alan Nestor will all make their championship bows.

In the absence of regular captain Brendan Murphy, 2007 All-Star attacker Stephen Bray will skipper the Royals.

Murphy, Shane McAnarney, Niall McKeigue, Seamus Kenny and Nigel Crawford are all missing after failing to have their eight-week suspensions overturned at a hearing on Tuesday.

Coyle is expecting big things again from stand-in captain Bray. The Navan O'Mahony's star shot 2-21 in last year's championship and he is sure to come in for some extra attention.

"Teams are double-teaming Stephen but he was a marked man last year too. His form was flagged very early last year, from the two Dublin games really, and it's something he has had to deal with back then," said the Meath boss.

"There is no substitute for class and having watched him these last few years he's an exceptional talent. We would expect the same kind of form from him this year."

Brian Farrell, another of the Royals' key forwards, should be sprung from the bench at some stage tomorrow having overcome a troublesome knee injury.

The omens point to a Meath win as they have beaten Carlow in each of the counties' seven championship meetings to date - six in the Leinster championship and one in the All-Ireland qualifiers.

The sides' last SFC encounter in 2006 ended in a 1-17 to 0-12 qualifier win for Meath. Carlow's best results so far were three-point defeats in 1938 and 1986.

MEATH (SFC v Carlow): M Ahern; C O'Connor, D Fay, C McGill; E Harrington, K Reilly, C King; B Meade, M Ward; A Nestor, C Ward, P Byrne; S Bray (capt), J Sheridan, G Geraghty.

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