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DUBLIN V MEATH Diarmuid Connolly backing Brian Howard and 'magic' Cormac Costello to start

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15 November 2020; Cormac Costello of Dublin scored 0-7 during the Leinster semi-final against Laois

15 November 2020; Cormac Costello of Dublin scored 0-7 during the Leinster semi-final against Laois

SPORTSFILE

7 November 2020; Brian Howard of Dublin during the Leinster quarter-final match against Westmeath

7 November 2020; Brian Howard of Dublin during the Leinster quarter-final match against Westmeath

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15 November 2020; Cormac Costello of Dublin scored 0-7 during the Leinster semi-final against Laois

DUBLIN are unbackable favourites to create Leinster SFC history tonight, but their Croke Park duel with Meath could still be a watershed contest for several All-Ireland five-in-a-row heroes.

Brian Howard, Paul Mannion and David Byrne haven’t started either of Dublin’s first two provincial outings, and they will all be craving a recall as the season rapidly draws to a climax.

Howard is a current back-to-back All-Star while Mannion has been honoured in each of the last three seasons. They were introduced off the bench during last Sunday’s Laois cakewalk, and former teammate Diarmuid Connolly believes that both could be in the starting frame, with Dessie Farrell not due to announce his team until noon Saturday.

Connolly also hailed Cormac Costello for having “magic in his boots” after his 0-7 cameo against Laois.

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7 November 2020; Brian Howard of Dublin during the Leinster quarter-final match against Westmeath

7 November 2020; Brian Howard of Dublin during the Leinster quarter-final match against Westmeath

SPORTSFILE

7 November 2020; Brian Howard of Dublin during the Leinster quarter-final match against Westmeath

“Do you risk starting Cormac? I’m not too sure,” the retired Dub told Boylesports. “I don’t think Dessie Farrell will make many changes, but I’d love to see Brian Howard getting more minutes into the legs and Paul Mannion is back playing.

“Paddy Small wasn’t as effective the last day, so could you maybe see Mannion or Costello coming in for Small? That could be an option.”

Dublin are a prohibitive 1/20 to maintain their vice-grip on the Delaney Cup for a tenth consecutive year, despite Meath’s surreal record of shooting 12 goals in two games.

Connolly cannot see any repeat of the 5-9 tally they amassed against Kildare.

“I don’t see Dublin letting Meath score five goals, and if they can only manage nine points then there is not much chance of them beating this Dublin machine,” he concluded.

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