Thursday 14 December 2017

Macauley adds extra dimension to Dublin midfield

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

WHEN Michael Darragh Macauley replaced Eamon Fennell in the first half of Dublin's Leinster SFC semi-final win over Wexford, it was fully expected that the All Star midfielder would be reinstated to Pat Gilroy's starting line-up for their next game.

And Macauley was included in Dublin's side when it was released yesterday, but, intriguingly, it was in place of suspended full-forward Diarmuid Connolly.

Macauley will wear the No 14 jersey, but he is expected to operate around midfield, mirroring the Royals' tactic of playing three players in that area.

Macauley and Fennell are expected to pick up Royal centre-fielders Conor Gillespie and Brian Meade, while Denis Bastick is likely to be charged with tracking the marauding Graham Reilly.

The Templeogue Synge Street man was handed a similar task in last year's All-Ireland quarter-final win over Tyrone, when he effectively neutralised the threat posed by Sean Cavanagh.

CONFIDENCE

Gilroy's decision is also a vote of confidence for Fennell, who is being given an extended run in the championship team, but it means Dublin will be a man short up front, with more scoring responsibility set to fall on inside forwards Bernard Brogan -- who was off colour in the Wexford game -- and Kevin McManamon.

The other change in the side sees the inclusion of Cian O'Sullivan at the expense of Ger Brennan, where Gilroy has gone with the Kilmacud man's pace.

Brennan was withdrawn early in the Wexford game and O'Sullivan has held his place as Dublin look to counteract the pace of Meath novices Damien Carroll and Alan Forde

Another Crokes player, Kevin Nolan moves to centre-back, where he often plays at club level, with O'Sullivan on the wing.

Meath are set to name their team tonight, with Stephen Bray and Kevin Reilly pushing hard for inclusion from the start after featuring as substitutes in the win over Kildare.

Paddy Gilsenan is Meath's biggest injury concern for the first meeting between the sides in a Leinster final since 2001.

DUBLIN (SF v Meath) -- S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, R O'Carroll, P McMahon; J McCarthy, K Nolan, C O'Sullivan; E Fennell, D Bastick; P Flynn, A Brogan, B Cullen; B Brogan, MD Macauley, K McManamon.

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