SEAMUS McENANEY has been forced to hand out first championship starts to a quartet of players for Sunday’s trip to Carlow to face Wicklow as he counts the costs of injuries to regular attackers, Stephen Bray and Paddy Gilsenan.
Bray is ruled out with a hamstring injury which threatens his involvement in the Royal line-up in the medium term while Gilsenan - who held down a regular spot in the Meath attack during their |ill-fated Division 2 campaign - has a similar complaint.
It means Conor Gillespie, Alan Forde, Donnacha Tobin and Mark Collins will all make their championship debut. Mark Ward and Shane O’Rourke are long-term absentees and so neither make the 26-man match-day panel, which sees Brian Farrell come in at corner-forward alongside Cian Ward and Joe Sheridan.
Collins will spearhead the Meath attack on his full summer debut alongside Forde and Graham Reilly in an inexperienced half-forward line while Tobin gets the nod at wing-back and Gillespie partners Brian Meade in midfield.
Peadar Byrne - who was drafted back into the panel after the league and following a year-long absence - is on the bench.
KIERAN DONAGHY has been dropped from the Kerry Championship team for the first time since his 2006 zenith. The Austin Stacks man has not made Jack O’Connor’s starting 15 for Sunday's Munster opener with Tipperary in Thurles (2.0), with Paddy Curtin handed his Championship debut in the Kerry full-forward line.
Donaghy’s form has been the subject of some close scrutiny in the Kingdom over successive summers although there are also suggestions that his absence may have come as a result of his attendance at last Saturday’s Champions League final against the wishes of management.
MEATH (SF v Wicklow): D Gallagher; M Burke, K Reilly, S McAnarney; D Tobin, B Menton, S Kenny; C Gillespie, B Meade; A Forde, M Collins, G Reilly; B Farrell, J Sheridan, C Ward.
WICKLOW (SF): J Flynn; C Hyland, A McLoughlin, A Byrne; D Healy, M McLoughlin, S Kelly; J Stafford, R Finn; L Glynn, D O'Sullivan, D Hayden; T Hannon, S Furlong, J McGrath.
KERRY (SF v Tipperary): B Kealy; S Enright, D Bohan, K Young; T Ó Sé, E Brosnan, P Crowley; A Maher, B Sheehan; P Galvin, Darran O’Sullivan, K O’Leary; C Cooper, Declan O’Sullivan, P Curtin.