The return of James Toher will be a significant boost for Meath hurling manager Nick Fitzgerald ahead of the first round Walsh Cup encounter against Antrim at Trim on Sunday 30th December.
Toher, who was a key part of the football panel this year, featured at midfield for Meath on Sunday last in a SH challenge game against a strong Wexford side.
The Wexford team included players of the calibre of Lee Chin, Mark Fanning, Conor McDonald, Jack Guiney, Harry Kehoe and Paul Morris. Wexford won the game by 1-22 to 13 points.
Meath will face a stern test in the Walsh Cup against Antrim on Saturday 30th December and particularly against Dublin (3rd January) as new manager Pat Gilroy will be eager to make a positive start to his tenure.
Not that success or defeat in the Walsh Cup will make any significant difference, in one sense, but Fitzgerald and his selectors Paul Reilly and Kilkenny duo Michael Kavanagh and Martin Comerford will be looking for positive signs ahead of what will be a tough NHL Div 2A campaign and an even tougher Tier 2 HC for the newly-named Joe McDonagh Cup.
The new-look management team has had an opportunity to assess players over the last few weeks in challenge games and for Fitzgerald, who guided Meath to an All-Ireland MHC B title earlier this year, he will be replacing Martin Ennis who enjoyed a successful three-year stint at the helm during which the Chritsy Ring Cup (2016) and a NHL Div 2B title (2017) were won.
Four players who will be missing from the initial panel will be Kiltale duo Mark O'Sullivan and Philip Garvey along with Na Fianna's Mark and Peter Slevin, all due to injuries.
MEATH PANEL - for Walsh Cup
Kiltale - Shane McGann, Anthony Forde, Conor Shirren, Cathal McCabe, Jack Regan, James Kelly, Padraig Kelly
Trim - James Toher, Michael Cullen, Neil Heffernan, Peter Farrell (Trim).
Kildalkey - Conor Kearney, Paddy Conneely, Paul Fagan (Kildalkey).
Ratoath - Gavin McGowan, Daragh Kelly, Sean O’Hanrahan (Ratoath).
Longwood - Anthony Healy, Chris Lynch, Damien Healy (Longwood).
Kilmessan - Eoin Marsh, Joey Keena, Shane Brennan (Kilmessan).
Dunboyne - Michael O’Grady, Sean Quigley, Sean McGrath (Dunboyne).
Killyon - Adam Gannon, Keith Keoghan (Killyon).
Donaghmore / Ashbourne - Colm O Mealoid
Kildalkey - David Conneely, David Harmon
Clann na nGael - Eamonn Mac Donnchadha
Navan O'Mahonys - Jack Walsh
Drumree - Josh Wall
Boardsmill - Niall Weir
Kilskyre / Moylagh - Sean Geraghty
Na Fianna - John McCluskey
SATURDAY 30th DECEMBER
Trim - Meath v Antrim, Walsh Cup first round, 2pm.
WEDNESDAY 3rd JANUARY
Abbottstown - Dublin v Meath, Walsh Cup second round, 8pm.