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Defender James Dolan ready for another tilt at Leinster title with Westmeath

On Sunday, one of the great scoring defenders of his generation will take to the field for newly-crowned Division 3 champions Westmeath in their championship opener against Wicklow.

It will be the 135th game of James Dolan's inter-county career and it will come 13 years after he made his senior debut for the side.

In that time Dolan has played at corner-back, wing-back, wing-forward and full-forward for the county.

At the start, he says the versatility was something he wondered about, pondering if he would ever settle in a definite position. But with 18-26 scored for Westmeath so far from 134 games, his status as one of the Lake County’s most reliable and talented players is secured.

Dolan knows by now that the modern game is all about adaptability and energy at the top-level. Westmeath played with a low block in their recent league final win over Down.

Against Wicklow in Portlaoise on Sunday they will be more aggressive with their shape.

"On the Tuesday after every game we meet and reset," he says.

"By then what is gone is gone.

"We knew Down are a terrific attacking, running team that likes goals so we stayed back deep to defend.

"Now we face Wicklow. We will have to change shape again because they have players who like to shoot from distance so we will have to step out onto them.

"But that’s what Tuesday nights are for. Looking at what has gone but analysing what is to come and how we set-up."

Moving with the times, trends and latest tweaks is something that Dolan relishes.

"Every year starts afresh," he says.

"I’ve been playing a long time under different management teams and with different players and all of that freshens it up.

"But I’ve been lucky not to have had too many bad injuries and I’m enjoying football. Thankfully we