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Brennan set to miss Dublin's league throw-in

Ger Brennan is likely to miss Dublin's opening NFL match against Armagh at the revamped Athletic Grounds on Saturday night.

Brennan suffered an ankle injury late in the O'Byrne Shield final against Meath last Saturday night and left Parnell Park on crutches.

He had a scan on the injury yesterday and, while manager Pat Gilroy hopes the damage is not as bad as it originally looked, Brennan's availability is in doubt.

If the St Vincent's player is ruled out of the weekend action, it puts further pressure on the Dublin resources, which are already strained by injury, college commitments and the absence of the Kilmacud Crokes contingent.

"We're without a fair few players," Gilroy said. "That's the reality of it. The likes of Ross (McConnell), Eamon Fennell and a good few other guys are coming back and they're just starting to get into training. We couldn't cull the panel, even if we wanted to. That group which played against Meath is our 26 right now."

Dublin got the edge over Armagh in their last meeting, which was the Round 3 qualifier at Croke Park in July, but a new year and a new campaign for both counties puts the league meeting into a different category.

"Armagh have been experimenting a fair bit in the McKenna Cup. They'll throw everything at us and I'd expect them to be a lot better than they were in the McKenna Cup," said Gilroy.

Dublin have come through January in reasonable form, losing to Westmeath by a point in the O'Byrne Cup but then winning against Wexford, Offaly and Meath in the O'Byrne Shield, scoring 12-47 and conceding 3-41.

Significantly, 2-14 of the 'scores against' total came from Saturday night's battle with Meath which went into extra-time, but for Gilroy this time of year is all about expanding his panel options.

"Our four games in January were worthwhile. We had some fellas who never played for Dublin before and some who maybe didn't play a lot in the last year," he said.

"They've really pushed themselves and put themselves into positions where they are going to challenge for places when the championship comes around and that has to be a good thing for us. The more pressure that's on, the better."

The manager's full-back options have been limited with injury to Paul Brogan and the unavailability of Ross O'Carroll, who is in Gien, France, until May improving his French as part of his degree course in UCD.

Denis Bastick could have been played there, but Gilroy has played him in midfield. Bastick has done well in midfield alongside Colm Murphy, giving Gilroy other options in that vital sector.

Sean Murray, an U-21 last season, has coped well at full-back in the last few games, but the going was a lot tougher against Meath.


Gilroy has taken careful note of Murray's performances and the big St Brigid's player is making good progress.

"Sean is acquitting himself well. He has a great attitude to the game and he's a fella who has a big future ahead of him," said the manager.

Meanwhile, Waterford hurling ace Eoin McGrath has been ruled out for up to six weeks with ankle ligament damage -- but that blow has been softened by the news that brother Ken and fellow veteran Tony Browne are due back in training with the county panel tonight.

Eoin McGrath was carried off against Clare at Sixmilebridge in last Sunday's Waterford Crystal Cup semi-final and there were some initial fears that the long-serving Mount Sion clubman had broken a bone. Scans yesterday ruled out a break but did reveal ligament damage, with the 30-year-old now facing four to six weeks on the sidelines.

The news surrounding McGrath is the latest injury setback to hit the Waterford camp as full-back Liam Lawlor is due to undergo knee surgery this morning and will be ruled out until April.

Irish Independent