By Kieran Galvin
Athlone's Ray Connellan will make his senior championship debut for Westmeath against Louth at Cusack Park on Saturday evening (throw-in: 7pm).
Connellan, the only newcomer to championship football in the Westmeath team, has been selected at midfield alongside David Duffy. The Athlone player impressed at both midfield and attack during Westmeath's Allianz FL campaign which ended in relegation. Now the young Coosan man has been handed his first start in the Leinster SFC.
Caulry's Damien Dolan replaces the injured Steven Gilmore at corner-back, while Kieran Gavin and John Heslin have shaken off injuries to take their places. Heslin has been named at full-forward alongside Denis Glennon and Dessie Dolan. However, it's quite likely that Connellan and Heslin will alternate between midfield and the forward line.
Meanwhile, there is also one debutant in the Louth team for Saturday evening's championship opener, with promising U21 player Patrick Reilly getting the chance to impress at wing-forward.
Paddy Keenan will be partnered by Mick Fanning at midfield and, up front, Louth will be looking to the likes of Andy McDonnell, Shane Lennon and Derek Maguire for inspiration.
Westmeath (Leinster SFC v Louth)
- Darren Quinn (Tyrrellspass)
- Damien Dolan (Caulry)
- Kieran Gavin (Mullingar Shamrocks)
- Kevin Maguire (Caulry)
- Ronan Foley (Coralstown/Kinnegad)
- Paul Sharry (Capt., St Loman's Mullingar
- James Dolan (Garrycastle)
- David Duffy (Shandonagh)
- Ray Connellan (Athlone)
- Callum McCormack (Maryland)
- Ger Egan (Tyrrellspass)
- Kieran Martin (Maryland)
- Denis Glennon (Tyrrellspass)
- John Heslin (St Loman's Mullingar)
- Des Dolan (Garrycastle)
Louth (SFC v Westmeath
Neil Gallagher; Padraig Rath, Dessie Finnegan, Gary O'Hare; John O'Brien, Derek Crilly, Adrian Reid; Paddy Keenan, Mick Fanning; Patrick Reilly, Brian White, Andy McDonnell; Declan Byrne, Shane Lennon, Derek Maguire.