Tuesday 24 October 2017

McEnaney taking no risks over Reilly for Kildare tie

McEnaney: Traditional rivalry
McEnaney: Traditional rivalry
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

MEATH could be without three key players for their Allianz League clash with Kildare in Navan on Saturday.

Graham Reilly (ankle) is the most doubtful, while there are also concerns over Joe Sheridan and Kevin Reilly, with all three receiving treatment after picking up knocks in club games.

Graham Reilly has been a key figure for the unbeaten Royals in their opening two games, but manager Seamus McEnaney won't be taking any risks with the St Colmcille's clubman.

"Any substantial injury at this time of the year could see a player missing two League games, so you have to manage them very carefully," said the Meath boss.

"Kildare played us three times last year and won all three. I think they've won the last five meetings between the counties, but what's done is done and there's no way that should have any influence on this game."

McEnaney and his players are eagerly looking forward to the match. "There's a traditional rivalry between the counties and even though it's still very early in the season, this is always seen as a big game."

Despite bursting out of the traps in the new year, Kildare have stalled somewhat since, losing their opening two league games to Tyrone and Monaghan and then letting a 10-point lead slip against DCU in the Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup final in Portlaoise, albeit with a second-string team.

They got back on track with a one-point victory (0-18 to 0-17) over an experimental Kerry selection in a challenge game last Saturday.

"Even if it was only a challenge match, beating Kerry at any stage of the year has to be a major boost to your confidence," McEnaney said.

"I think the three-week break in the League probably came at the right time for Kildare. It will have allowed them to re-group and they are sure to be a stronger outfit now."

All Star defender Michael Foley returned to the Kildare starting team against Kerry and helped to keep Kieran Donaghy scoreless. Eoghan O'Flaherty was restored to Lilies' half-forward line, while John Doyle lined out in midfield.

Mickey Conway (0-5, 4f, 1 '45') and Eamonn Callaghan (0-4 from play) were their top scorers.

Saturday represents a big opportunity for Kildare to get their season back on track. Not only did they lose to Monaghan by five points last time out but they were subsequently fined €5,000, selector Niall Carew received a four-week suspension and half-back Brian Flanagan picked up a one-game ban as a result of a melee.

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