Familiar Dublin ready to go into the unknown
THE DUBLIN team to face relative unknowns from Séamus McEnaney’s youthful Meath in Sunday’s Leinster football final shows some slight alternations from their last outing.
Established centre back Ger Brennan is dropped, having been replaced by a fit again Cian O’Sullivan 30 minutes into the semi-final against Wexford.
It means the starting six from last year’s All-Ireland final against Kerry is changed only by the presence of Philly McMahon at corner back. Kevin Nolan shifts from wing to centre back, with O’Sullivan wearing number seven, but this could well change as the contest develops.
Dublin’s half back trio – James McCarthy being the third – were all part of the under-21s that captured the All-Ireland in 2010.
The other change is enforced as last year’s regular starting midfielder Michael Dara Macauley replaces the suspended Diarmuid Connolly at full forward. This is at the expense of Eoghan O’Gara, with Macauley expected to feature further out the field.
McEnaney will release the Meath line-up tonight.
“I suppose they’re a bit like ourselves in 2002 when we won the Leinster championship; we came, had a lot of guys who weren’t really known,” said Alan Brogan. “It’s certainly an advantage to Meath rather than a disadvantage, in that they have that unknown up their sleeve.”
Meanwhile, Tyrone captain Stephen O’Neill is likely to be passed fit to face Kerry in the round three qualifier at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, on Saturday evening.
O’Neill, 31, Footballer of the Year in 2005, missed last weekend’s win over Roscommon with a calf injury.
“We’re very optimistic that Stevie’s going to be okay,” said assistant manager Tony Donnelly. “It was a slight problem with the calf, it cramped up on him, but it looks like it’s going to be okay, all clear, and we’re hopeful that that’s going to be the case for the weekend.
“He’s our captain and our leader, a very important player to us and we’re very happy to have him available to us.”
Justin McMahon is expected to miss out for a third successive game due to a hamstring injury, which has restricted him to just 35 minutes of championship football this season – the first half of the Ulster quarter-final win against Armagh.
It means 20-year-old Conor Clarke is expected to continue at full back, where he has impressed in marking Donegal’s Michael Murphy and Roscommon’s Donie Shine.
“Justin had a little tightness in the hamstring, and that’s still the case. It doesn’t feel right at the present moment for him,” added Donnelly.
PJ Quinn’s return gives Tyrone an extra defensive option. “PJ is back training after being out for a couple of months with a bruised bone in his ankle, and everybody else is training and going well.”
Kerry’s major concern is Darran O’Sullivan’s hamstring. His involvement in last Sunday’s defeat of Westmeath only lasted 25 minutes.
DUBLIN (SFC v Meath): S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, R O’Carroll, P McMahon; J McCarthy, K Nolan, C O’Sullivan; E Fennell, D Bastick; P Flynn, A Brogan, B Cullen (capt); B Brogan, MD Macauley, K McManamon.