Tuesday 17 September 2019

Meath's Newman looking to put injury nightmare behind him after return against Dublin

Mickey Newman in action against Dublin’s Seán McMahon during the Seán Cox Fundraising match in Páirc Tailteann. Photo: Sportsfile
Mickey Newman in action against Dublin’s Seán McMahon during the Seán Cox Fundraising match in Páirc Tailteann. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

They're only small things but when you're coming from a long way back, they all mean something.

Mickey Newman scored the last point of the day for Meath as they secured a come-from-behind, two-point success over Dublin and brought his personal tally to 0-6 for the day.

No one in Páirc Tailteann was losing sight of the fact that this was a shadow Dublin team that hadn't trained together. Nor did they forget that this was a challenge game where there was nothing but bragging rights on the line.

But for Newman it was another step on the long road back.

Before rejoining Andy McEntee's panel for the new season, he hadn't played for the Royals since their one-point defeat to Donegal in July 2017 and before this season, he hadn't started a league or championship game for the county since the 2016 qualifier defeat to Derry that marked the end of Mick O'Dowd's reign as manager.

And after taking a year out to recover from injuries in 2018, the Kilmainham clubman is looking to regain the kind of form that saw him nominated for an All-Star in 2013.

"It's great to be back, particularly for days like that, especially with the crowd that turned up and the cause it was for. It's lovely, yeah, great to be back," said Newman who made his reappearance in an O'Byrne cup game against Louth earlier this month.

"It's grand, once the injuries (are OK)... like, I obviously stepped away to get myself right," Newman said.

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"I'm back and have had a good pre-season so far. Once I'm fit and enjoying my football the fitness comes fairly quick.

"I had a couple of injuries that were just dragging on and I was playing on and on with them. Eventually I just had to make the decision for myself, that was it really.

"The ankle, I had an operation on my ankle and there was an ongoing problem with my elbow as well. It was just the best decision really. I'm delighted I did it because I feel a lot fresher."

Newman's return comes at a good time for the Royals with fellow forwards Joey and Eamonn Wallace struggling with injury and expected to be out for the foreseeable future while Cillian O'Sullivan is also recovering from an injury.

There was a boost for the Royals with the news that Padraic Harnan is expected to rejoin the panel in the coming days after a stint abroad.

Manager McEntee has identified gaining promotion from an ultra-competitive Division 2 as their first task for the 2019 season.

They start their campaign at home to Tipperary before they head north to take on Donegal. They will face Offaly in Navan in their Leinster SFC opener.

Meath have toyed with promotion over the past number of seasons and have come close to taking a big scalp in championship, running both the Tír Chonaill men and Tyrone to a point in Navan in the last two years.

However they have also fallen well short of expected levels of performance on occasion.

And Newman insists that finding a consistent level of performance is the Royals' main objective.

"You take the performance out of it really. We're building and looking for consistency, that's the main thing with us.

"Over the last few years we've been good and we've been bad. We've mixed the good with the ugly so it's just getting consistent performances week in, week out.

"Obviously your league campaign is seven out of nine weeks so that's really what we're looking to do at the moment, just get that consistency and play to a high level."

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