McMahon back in contention to bolster Laois defence
LAOIS defender Padraig McMahon is in contention to play against Longford in the Leinster SFC on Sunday, even though he returned from an extended break from football just three weeks ago.
McMahon captained the O'Moores in 2010, but he hasn't played at all this season after taking a year out to travel.
He has reportedly come home in great shape fitness-wise and, within days of his return, he played a full league game for his club Ballyroan-Abbey.
He then joined Laois on a training weekend in Limerick two weeks ago and made his inter-county return last weekend, coming off the bench in the second half of a challenge match against Offaly in Mountmellick, which Laois won by two points (0-16 to 0-14), with Michael John Tierney top-scoring on 0-7 (4f, 1 '45').
With so little inter-county football under his belt this year, it's unlikely that manager Justin McNulty will start McMahon against Longford, but he is expected to come off the bench at some stage and his presence should be a big fillip to Laois' relatively inexperienced defence.
Last summer, McMahon lined out at corner-back against Dublin and wing-back against Tipperary, and he has also played at centre-back in recent years.
A lot of the Laois big names did not feature in the challenge game against Offaly, but that was just as a precaution and, apart from long-term absentee Niall Donoher, they have a clean bill of health.
Longford have injury worries over David Barden and Paul Kelly.
Kelly, who was Longford's goal-scoring hero when he came off the bench in the Allianz League Division 3 final against Wexford three weeks ago, is struggling with a hamstring injury that has troubled him all season.
Barden missed the league final because of an ankle problem and has not played any football since, not even with his club, so his fitness is also in doubt.
Westmeath, meanwhile, are likely to be without top defender Kieran Gavin when they open their campaign against Louth.
The Mullingar Shamrocks star has been struggling with a quad muscle injury since captaining DCU to Fitzgibbon Cup victory in March.
Louth, who were already resigned to being without full-forward Shane Lennon, have been hit with even more problems.
They have lost Brian White, Brian Donnelly, James Califf and Cathal Bellew to America since the end of the league and will also be without full-back Dessie Finnegan as he will be on honeymoon.