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Royals' Reilly to miss league

MEATH footballers are bracing themselves to be without key defender Kevin Reilly for almost the entire National League campaign.

The Navan O'Mahony's clubman was plagued by a persistent back injury last summer, forcing him to miss most of the Royals' scenic route run to the All-Ireland semi-finals, and he has now undergone surgery to correct the problem.

"He had the operation over December and we will not be rushing him back," Meath manager Eamonn O'Brien said. "I'd say it is looking like a couple of months, probably towards the end of the league at the earliest."

Meanwhile, the Meath county board is still a long way off emulating the lead of its Dublin counterparts in the search for a new long-term sponsor.

While Dublin have secured a deal with Vodafone - to the tune of €4.65m plus performance-related add-ons over six years - Meath will have no sponsors' logo on their jerseys when coming to Parnell Park this Sunday for their O'Byrne Cup quarter-final against the Dubs.

"We do have some irons in the fire at present, but the fact we only received confirmation (that old sponsors Menolly Homes had pulled out) in the first week of December was part of the problem," said secretary Cyril Creavin.

He blamed the above timing, coming before Christmas and the subsequent cold snap, for the delay. He revealed they are hoping to secure a long-term deal for roughly half the figure that Dublin are receiving .