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O'Dowd winning race for Royals' hotseat

THE odds are shortening on Mick O'Dowd winning the race to become Meath's next senior football manager.

Of the four candidates interviewed by the appointments committee for Seamus McEnaney's old position, O'Dowd has the lowest public profile - but he has now emerged as favourite ahead of Colm O'Rourke, Graham Geraghty and Paddy Carr.

The Skryne man, player-manager when his club claimed the 2004 Meath SFC crown, has compiled an impressive backroom team that includes Trevor Giles, Colm Brady and Seán Kelly.

The new incumbent could be ratified by the county board as early as next Monday.

DR CROKES are still on course for a Kerry SFC hat-trick, but their quarter-final victory over Austin Stacks yesterday was marred by a mass brawl.

A 16th minute foul on Colm Cooper ignited the powder-keg with melees and fights erupting throughout the pitch.

Stacks led by a point at the time but Crokes were spurred to life afterwards: the Tralee club later lost veteran midfielder William Kirby to a second yellow while a Cooper goal saw their Killarney rivals ease home by 1-13 to 0-8.

Crokes boss Noel O'Leary admitted: "I think it was too physical at times and it was not helped by having so many people on the line, on both sides. It needs to be controlled - having a riot out on the pitch is not good enough, someone could get seriously hurt. I thought it was dangerous out there today for periods of that first half. That is not sport."

MAYO freetaker Cillian O Connor dislocated his shoulder in a weekend league game and is now rated highly unlikely to feature for holders Ballintubber in their county SFC semi-final against Crossmolina.