Sunday 18 February 2018

Royals boss sticking to his young guns for Carlow

Meath manager Seamus McEnaney. Photo: Sportsfile
Meath manager Seamus McEnaney. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

MEATH manager Seamus McEnaney is keeping his faith in Meath's young guns ahead of Sunday's Leinster SFC quarter-final clash against Carlow.

McEnaney handed first championship starts to Conor Gillespie, Alan Forde, Donncha Tobin and Mark Collins for their opening-round win over Wicklow, and also introduced Donal Keogan early in the game, and they acquitted themselves well as the Royals got a welcome win after a miserable league campaign.

"People might have been surprised that we played some of them," he said.

"Donal Keogan was out for three weeks with exams, but he came back in and showed serious form in training. Donncha Tobin has been one of our best defenders all year. Mark Collins had been injured and came back in and Alan Forde left me with no option but to play him from looking at training. If you perform well in training, you'll get your opportunity.

fear

"Birth certs don't annoy me. It's not about age, it's if you're good enough. I had no fear in bringing in the young lads and thankfully they proved the management right."

Meath's injury problems will ease slightly this week with Paddy Gilsenan and Stephen Bray expected to be fit to play some part in Tullamore.

Gary O'Brien will return to full training this week, though captain Seamus Kenny has joined Mark Ward and Shane O'Rourke on the long-term injury list. The game is likely to come too soon for Tom Walsh.

Caoimhin King opted out of the panel ahead of the Wicklow game and, in light of Kenny's injury, he could be afforded more game time, with McEnaney insisting the door remains open for a return.

"The panel has an open door. Players come in and out and I have always operated an open-door policy, and nothing has changed," he said.

Carlow won just three of eight games in Division 4, but McEnaney pointed to their shock win over Louth last year as an indicator as to how dangerous Luke Dempsey's men can be.

"I don't think Meath is in the position to look ahead of anyone. Luke Dempsey is doing a serious job and we have one thing in our mind and that's Carlow," he said.

Irish Independent

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