Thursday 21 September 2017

Faithful boost as McNamee and McConway make return to football fold

Rhode forward McNamee has been an ever-present in the Offaly attack since making his debut as a Leaving Cert student in 2003. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Rhode forward McNamee has been an ever-present in the Offaly attack since making his debut as a Leaving Cert student in 2003. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Pat Flanagan has been dealt a huge boost ahead of Offaly's Leinster SFC quarter-final against Westmeath on June 11 with the return of former captains Niall McNamee and Paul McConway to the Faithful fold.

As revealed in the Irish Independent last month, McNamee quashed doubts about his future and began his 15th inter-county season when returning to training last night.

Widely regarded as one of the game's finest finishers, Rhode forward McNamee has been an ever-present in the Offaly attack since making his debut as a Leaving Cert student in 2003, and his addition will be a huge asset.

McConway captained the side to Allianz FL Division 4 success two years ago but had been left out in the cold since rupturing his cruciate knee ligament on club duty with Tullamore later that year; he will broaden Flanagan's options in defence.

McConway and McNamee are the only two remaining playing links to Offaly's last Leinster SFC final appearance in 2006 and along with the return of Anton Sullivan, who has completed his UN tour of duty in Lebanon, and Gracefield's Ruairi Allen, they bolster a youthful Faithful outfit.

Elsewhere, the possibility of O'Connor Park proceeding with the sale of naming rights has been delayed after a 'no vote' was taken by the Tullamore club at a Special General Meeting over the weekend amid confusion over who was eligible to partake.

Hamstring

Offaly's county board have a long-term lease on O'Connor Park and must seek permission from the ground's owners before following other counties like Wexford and Westmeath by selling the name of their grounds.

Meanwhile, a hamstring injury is threatening Brendan Harrison's participation in Mayo's Connacht SFC quarter-final against Sligo on Sunday week after the All-Star defender picked up the injury in a recent challenge game against Meath.

Harrison missed Aghamore's Mayo SFC first-round clash on Sunday and the Western People report that he could be out of action for four to six weeks, which would see him miss their Championship opener, and possibly a last-four clash with reigning champions Galway.

The draw for the semi-finals of the Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard Cups leaves leading contenders Antrim and Carlow on opposite sides, with the Saffrons hosting Down, who they already defeated handsomely, while Colm Bonnar's Carlow play Wicklow.

Monaghan meet Derry and Tyrone face Armagh in the last four of the Nicky Rackard. All four ties will be played on Saturday, May 20.

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