The return of gifted attacker Mickey Newman jumps off the page as Meath manager Andy McEntee announced his panel for the forthcoming National Football League. Entering his fifth season at the helm, the boss will be hoping to steer his charges back to the top flight straight away having only dined thence for one campaign. Even though they failed to win a game at the top table, enough was shown in several of the games to suggest they might be a different proposition if earning another such opportunity. That theory will now face a very stern examination.
Kilmainham’s Newman returns after a elongated spell plagued by ankle and hip ailments. Speaking earlier this year, the 30-year-old target man credited former team mates Kevin Reilly and Shane O’Rourke as guiding influences in finding his way back from an injury which is becoming much more prevalent among sportspersons of all ages. The two Navan-based players had their inter-county careers cruelly culled by the same hip injury, though O’Rourke has got back playing club football, garnering consecutive Meath SFC medals with Simonstown Gaels.
Newman’s comeback means that with the exception of the retired Marcus Brennan – who is now part of the backroom team – and Curraha clubman David Toner who has emigrated to Canada, the Royal County report a clean bill of health. New faces into the panel include the St Peter’s, Dunboyne duo of Liam Byrne – who captained the county to a Leinster U-17 title previously – and David McEntee, Longwood custodian Harry Hogan, Keith Curtis, David Dillon, Danny Dixon, Jordan Muldoon, Fionn Reilly and Jack Flynn.
Meath will open their season with the visit to Pairc Tailteann of neighbours Westmeath before travelling to the Athletic Grounds in Armagh to take on Down – who were made forfeit home advantage for breaching the GAA’s training ban – before taking on Mayo in their final ‘regulation’ outing. All of which will, of course, be in preparation for the summer’s opening joust against the winners of Longford v. Carlow.
Fogra: At the confirmation of the opening Leinster SFC Fixtures, it was pleasantly surprising to see Pairc Tailteann get an outside fixture – the clash of teams managed by two of the most talked-about managers in Gaelic Football – Mickey Harte’s Louth facing off against Offaly in the care of John Maughan. Not before time for the ‘Pairc’!