Meath star Reilly facing extended spell on sidelines

Kevin Reilly's bad run of luck with injuries is set to continue with the news that a long-term back injury is set to ruin his plans for the upcoming National League.

Kevin Reilly's bad run of luck with injuries is set to continue with the news that a long-term back injury is set to ruin his plans for the upcoming National League.

The Meath footballers will open their Division 2 campaign at home to Armagh on Saturday, February 6, and full-back Reilly is already a non-starter.

Royals manager Eamonn O'Brien said: "Kevin won't be back doing anything until the end of the month and we will have to assess him then."

2009 was a injury-plagued year for Reilly and the Navan O'Mahony's clubman will be hoping he can turn a corner as he bids to get his back right for the new season.

Meath lost out to Louth - 2-14 to 3-4 - in an hour-long challenge match at Haggardstown last weekend, with O'Brien opting to field a makeshift side in wintry conditions.

Peadar Byrne was the only regular from last season to start, but there was a notable return to the fray for Trim goalkeeper Brendan Murphy who pulled off a textbook penalty save.

Mark Ward, Brendan Murphy, Barry Regan, Damien Sheridan, Shane O'Rourke and Jamie Queeney also saw action during the game.

Confirmation came through this morning that Meath's O'Byrne Cup opener against Louth at Ballymahon on Sunday has been postponed by the Leinster Council, with a severe cold snap gripping all four corners of the country.

Speaking to the Meath Chronicle about the pre-season competition, O'Brien said: "We will be using the O'Byrne Cup to test players and try a few different things.

"We have had a couple of trial matches and have seen a few matches towards the end of the county championship. We have up to 40 players doing a bit of training on their own for the last couple of weeks.

"We won't have a few lads. Brian Farrell and Caoimhin King are away, Kevin Reilly is injured, Shane McAnarney is getting married, there's also a few of the established players away for the first couple of weeks and some of the panel are tied up with their college teams.

"We will be using a lot of the players that impressed in the trial matches and we will be mixing them with players that are on the panel already."

However, O'Brien is slightly in the dark as to how the new experimental rules will impact on inter-county football's opening games of 2010.

"It is hard to know how the experimental rules will work until you see them in action. I don't know how the mark will work.

"If you catch the ball cleanly and win the mark, can you not continue on? Or do you have to wait and take a free?

"Also the square ball rule change is not going to give a goalkeeper much protection," he added.

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