Saturday 20 January 2018

Darach Honan to get banner nod ahead of O'Donnell

Clare's Darach Honan
Clare's Darach Honan

Darach Honan, the man who was dropped to make way for Shane O'Donnell in last year's All-Ireland SHC final replay, is hotly tipped to replace him for tomorrow's Munster semi-final.

O'Donnell's selection proved to be Davy Fitzgerald's trump card last September, but Honan contributed a late goal off the bench in Clare's two-goal defeat of Cork and his form in a challenge match against Dublin three weeks ago is believed to have put him in pole position for the full-forward spot against the Leesiders.

There is speculation that there will be a change from last summer's starters in the Clare full-back line, where Ballyea corner-back Jack Browne is expected to get his championship debut.

Elsewhere, Armagh may be facing a battle to get suspensions of three of their players lifted before their Ulster semi-final after last Sunday's brawl in the Athletic Grounds, but a benefactor has stepped in to pay their €5,000 fine.

Boylesports bookmakers, who are owned by Armagh native John Boyle, have offered to pay Armagh's fine and the board have accepted.

Armagh have already indicated that Kieran Toner, Andy Mallon and Brendan Donaghy will be appealing their one-match suspensions in a bid to get them lifted in time for the Ulster semi-final against Monaghan or Tyrone on June 28.

Cavan's Martin Dunne and Fergal Flanagan were also hit with bans and their board got a similar fine, but Dunne's broken hand already rules him out of their next game, which is a first-round qualifier against Westmeath.

Brian Meade, who missed Meath's entire league campaign after a cruciate injury, has recovered in time to start in midfield against Carlow tomorrow when the Royals will have three first-time championship starters.

Corner-back Caolan Young will make his full Leinster debut at corner-back while Andy Tormey and Bryan McMahon are both starting their first championship games, having previously come off the bench.

Meade partners Shane O'Rourke in midfield and, because of injuries, it is also O'Rourke's first championship appearance since an All-Ireland qualifier against Kildare in 2011. Eamonn Wallace and Conor Gillespie are both out with cruciate injuries, Bryan Menton and Eoghan Harrington are also out injured but Kevin Reilly, Stephen Bray and Mickey Newman are all deemed fit to start.

MEATH (SF v Carlow) – P O'Rourke; C Young, K Reilly, M Burke; P Harnan, D Keogan, D Carroll; B Meade, S O'Rourke; D Tobin, B McMahon, A Tormey; G Reilly, S Bray, M Newman.

Irish Independent

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