Monday 18 December 2017

Reilly holds back

John Savage

LOUTH U-21 boss David Reilly won't name his starting XV for Wednesday night's Leinster Championship quarter-final replay with Meath until Wednesday as he waits to see how his troops recover from a gruelling and hugely entertaining 80 minutes in Clan Na Gael last week.

In an early contender for game-of-the-season, both Louth and Meath needed late equalisers to keep their provincial dreams alive - Louth at the end of normal-time and Meath in the second period of extra-time.

It was fitting that the two star performers on the night - Ryan Burns and Bryan McMahon - should come to their county's rescue in a game that neither side really deserved to lose.

For their part Meath have made one change for the replay at Pairc Tailteann (7.30pm). Brian Power who made an impression when coming on in the drawn encounter is an indirect replacement for Charles Brogan and will be one of six Ratoath players on the starting XV.

Reilly, who named his team early for the first game, revealed he hopes to have a clean bill of health, but with players in college and working down the country, he won't have a clear picture until closer to throw-in.

Reflecting on last week's clash the former Louth midfielder was both relieved and frustrated.

'It was a cracking game, but I felt we should have won it in normal-time,' he said. 'Having said that we were very relieved to get the chance to send it to extra-time after Meath reeled us back in. I suppose it was a fair result overall.'

After the manner in which last week's game developed, swinging one way and then the other, Reilly doesn't believe either team gained any psychological advantage for the replay.

'Meath are at home and they will feel the bigger pitch and better surface will suit them, but it will suit our forwards too.

'We would hope to keep it tight again and stay in the game for as long possible, but the big thing we need to address is the breaking ball around the middle of the field.

'We closed down and pressed Meath and turned ball over, but we didn't win enough primary possession of our own.'

Reilly joined in the widespread praise for minor star Ryan Burns, who still has three more years at the U-21 grade.

'You could see he wasn't one bit out of his depth; in fact he was one of the best players on the pitch. Meath possibly took their eye off the ball with him being a minor, but I thought all of our five forwards were excellent.'

Meath starting XV: Andy Colgan; Simon Carty, Conor Mc Gill, David McQuillan; Brian Power, Shane Melia, Shane McEntee; Conor Sheridan, Adam Flanagan; Neil Shortall, Bobby O'Brien, Padraic Harnan; Eamon Wallace, Bryan Mc Mahon, Joey Wallace.

Drogheda Independent

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