Smith to debut for adopted Westmeath

Leo Smith will lead the Westmeath attack against Dublin in Sunday's Leinster SHC quarter-final clash at Portlaoise (throw-in 3.50pm).

Leo Smith will lead the Westmeath attack against Dublin in Sunday's Leinster SHC quarter-final clash at Portlaoise (throw-in 3.50pm).

An All-Ireland club championship winner with his native Portumna, Smith qualifies to play for Westmeath due to his work as a school teacher in Athlone.

He was persuaded to throw his lot in with the Lake county by their former manager Seamus Qualter and will be making his Leinster championship debut this weekend.

Current Westmeath boss Johnny Dooley used Smith as a substitute in his side's NHL Division 2 final victory over Carlow last month and with team captain Brendan Murtagh out injured, Smith has now been handed a starting role.

Murtagh fractured a finger recently in a challenge match against Laois but has been included amongst the substitutes for the Dublin game.

Murtagh is a vital cog in the Westmeath machine, particularly as a free-taker but Dooley is confident that the recalled Andrew Mitchell will thrive from placed balls.

"Fortunately we have Andrew Mitchell, who was the county's regular free-taker for years, on hand to take over that duty and sometimes you can use a loss like this to your advantage so that's what we'll be hoping," Dooley admitted.

Mitchell's Clonkill club-mate Adam Price has also been included in the Westmeath starting line-up - he will be making his first championship start at left corner back.

Westmeath had two points to spare over Dublin when the sides last met in the championship in 2006 - that was only the Lake county's second ever win over the Dubs in the Leinster championship, having previously succeeded in 1982.

WESTMEATH (SHC v Dublin): M Briody; G Gavin, P Greville, A Price; D Curley, D McCormack, C Jordan; B Connaughton, E Loughlin; A Mitchell, L Smith, P Clarke; J Shaw, P Dowdall, D McNicholas.

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