Conor Gillespie set for Meath return against Westmeath

Dublin’s Kevin Nolan available for selection for first time this year after operation

 

Nine months after his 2014 season was ended by a fiendish cruciate ligament injury Meath midfielder Conor Gillespie is set to make his Meath return this weekend.

The big midfielder is expected to feature at some point in the Division Two tie against Westmeath on Saturday in Navan. Mick O’Dowd’s team are without the injured Harry Rooney who has formed a midfield partnership with fellow Under-21 player Adam Flanagan this year, playing together in all but one of Meath’s pre-season and league games thus far.

Rooney also missed out on the Royal’s shaky 1-10 to 1-8 win over Westmeath in the Under-21 Leinster championship on Wednesday night.

With a number of that Under-21 team involved in the senior panel, and the likes of Flanagan, Eamon Wallace and Paraic Harnan all named to start, Gillespie’s return will be all the more welcomed.

With last year’s midfielder Shane O’Rourke a long-term injury absentee and Brian Meade having retired, options in that sector have been largely depleted and Andrew Tormey will fill in at number eight for Saturday’s game.

Summerhill clubman Gillespie had missed much of the 2014 Allianz League campaign last year with ankle and shoulder injuries before sustaining the season-ending ‘curse of the cruciate’, so his return will provide a major boost to a team who seem in need of a lift.

Fellow cruciate victim Eamon Wallace makes his first start since suffering the same injury last year, he’s named at corner forward.

Road to recovery

Meanwhile Dublin’s former All Star defender Kevin Nolan is in contention for the Dublin matchday squad for the first time this year.

The 26-year-old Kilmacud Crokes defender featured for his club in the first round of the senior league the weekend before last, his first game back since he underwent an operation to clear up a disk problem in his lower back which had ruled him out of Dublin’s pre-season and league campaign up until now.

Nolan is set to get some game-time in the coming weeks as he remains very much part of Jim Gavin’s plans.

The man of the match in the 2011 All-Ireland final was diagnosed as a celiac in 2012, and worse was to follow a couple of months later when he was discovered to have type 1 diabetes.

The former DCU student missed much of the All-Ireland winning 2013 season and started just one championship game last summer against Wexford, having to adapt to his fluctuating energy levels, his dietary restrictions and the need to monitor food intake and inject insulin after meals.

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