Meath pair set for Championship debuts

Meath manager Mick O'Dowd has included two Championship debutants in his team to face Wicklow in Saturday's Leinster SFC quarter-final in Aughrim (throw-in 7pm).

Meath pair set for Championship debuts

Meath manager Mick O'Dowd has included two Championship debutants in his team to face Wicklow in Saturday's Leinster SFC quarter-final in Aughrim (throw-in 7pm).

Corner forwards Eamonn Wallace (Ratoath) and Michael Newman (Kilmainham) are the two newcomers, flanking Stephen Bray in the top line of the Royals' attack.

O'Dowd is backing the youngsters to deliver as he leaves Joe Sheridan, Brian Farrell and Paddy Gilsenan on the bench.

Talented sprinter Wallace is making the step up from the minor grade, while Newman impressed in the Allianz League by scoring 4-31 in seven outings.

Dunshaughlin clubman Caoimhin King is back in favour having not played a competitive game under O'Dowd so far this season.

He will start at centre back with Davy Dalton and Eoghan Harrington both ruled out through injury.

Dual player Mickey Burke missed the entire league campaign through injury and makes a welcome return at left half-back, while Damien Carroll from Ballinabrackey has recovered from a broken ankle to fill the centre forward berth.

Speaking ahead of the provincial clash, O'Dowd told the Herald: "We're trying to play a pretty direct game, whether it's with the foot or sometimes running it, depending on where you're starting from or where the opposition's defence has been set up.

"There was a few hairy moments in the league, but I kind of expected there to be. I didn't think it would be smooth sailing.

"With all the change going on and then you were coming up against teams that were well settled and further advanced in their training and strength and conditioning.

"As well as that, when we came in there were 13 fellas injured and many of them were key leaders of the team.

"So we made a decision then, that you might say was with the 15th of June in mind, that we gave them a longer period to recover rather than rushing them for the first round of the League.

"When we got those defeats to Monaghan and Cavan, there were plenty of people around the county that were saying, look, stick with it. Obviously, that's what we were going to do anyway but there was a lot of support around the county."

MEATH (SFC v Wicklow): Paddy O'Rourke; Donal Keoghan, Kevin Reilly (capt), Bryan Menton; Ciaran Lenihan, Caoimhin King, Mickey Burke; Brian Meade, Conor Gillespie; Peadar Byrne, Damien Carroll, Graham Reilly; Eamonn Wallace, Stephen Bray, Michael Newman.

Subs: Conor McHugh, Brian Farrell, Joe Sheridan, Seamus Kenny, Padraig Harnan, Paddy Gilsenan, Andrew Tormey, Caolan Young, Dalton McDonagh, David Larkin, Brian Dillon.

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