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Cribbin leaves Westmeath door open for return of star man Dolan

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Dessie Dolan, Garrycastle

Dessie Dolan, Garrycastle

SPORTSFILE

Dessie Dolan, Garrycastle

Westmeath boss Tom Cribbin has refused to rule out a return to the county set-up for veteran Dessie Dolan later this year.

The Lake men's dismal run continued in Mullingar last Sunday when Meath ran out six-point winners in their O'Byrne Cup clash, leaving them without a competitive win since they beat Carlow in May 2013.

It was only Cribbin's first game in charge having taken over from Paul Bealin late last year but he admitted confidence was extremely low among the squad, who have now lost 15 games on the bounce across three campaigns.

And he is holding out hope that Dolan could be persuaded to return to the set-up to help steady the county's fortunes.

The Garrycastle man retired after the 2014 campaign having made his debut in 1998. However, he was instrumental as his club secured another county title last year and Cribbin believes he still has plenty to offer.

"I haven't asked him yet, and I wouldn't for another few weeks," Cribbin revealed.

"If Dessie thinks that things are going right, and thinks he can add something to it, I'm sure he'd have no problem coming back.

Pressure

"But he only finished before Christmas and he's 34 or 35 next year, but he'd be that bit more composed up front, when you're under pressure."

Meath manager Mick O'Dowd has warned that his side are still rebuilding as he enters his third year in charge of the Royals.

The county has seen steady progress in recent seasons, narrowly missing out on promotion to the top flight last year, though they have suffered disappointing defeats to Dublin in three successive Leinster finals.

O'Dowd handed out nine debuts on Sunday but it was the introduction of some more experienced players like Donal Keogan and Bryan Menton that swung the game in Meath's favour along with six fine points from Graham Reilly.

And the Royal County boss insisted they were still a work in progress.

"Biggie (Reilly) has been training well and hard and it is his eighth season with Meath so he is experienced player.

"But I've made the point before that it is a new team in general. A lot of players, even the likes of Donal Keogan, are coming into their fourth season so we don't have loads of seasoned players in the seven- or eight-season bracket which I think you need to have."

Eamonn Wallace and Conor Gillespie are edging back towards fitness but the promising Cillian O'Sullivan remains on the long-term injury list.

Irish Independent