Let’s stick to the glass half full theory

Analysing Meath-Dublin games is always difficult. Maybe this time more so than usual, however. Looking objectively, Meath lost, again, by more than last year, and have only beaten Dublin once in 12 years in the championship. That’s not good enough and, as one observer with a finger on the pulse of all things Meath GAA put it last week – “’Banty’ will be saying now that he got within three points of Dublin but was got rid of!”
Which is of course true, but it’s not as simple as that. While all talk of returning to traditional Meath values is in my view over the top, self applauding, undoubted progress has been made. Credit where it’s due to the management and players for what they’ve achieved – which, in gaining promotion and contesting consecutive Leinster finals – is highly commendable. Regardless of what happens for the remainder of the season, Meath are on journey that will take time to reach its peak but is only liable to get better.

Michael Newman

Dublin have undergone seismic change. Initial viewing might suggest that the majority of it has occurred since Jim Gavin took them over. A more realistic appraisal, perhaps, says that the zenith the sky blues now rest at is the current standpoint (and not likely to be the culmination thereof) came about because of ‘project work’ with development squads and the like. Initiatives like the one which saw Dublin hurling selector Ciaran Hetherton began working with a group of players when they were thirteen. We know the fruit that has borne recently.
Before the Leinster final, it was genuinely felt that Dublin were on a different level to most other teams. After all, only Tyrone – in the NFL Final – up to that point had given them a stern test. Even at that, they didn’t beat them. Factor in that league seems to have taken on relevance like never before and few – including yours truly – could give Meath much chance of upsetting the formbook. Remember, while Dublin were blazing a trail through the top flight, their opponents were, for a while at least, finding craters in Div. 3 quicker the kids find crisps!
That’s the thing, though, when these two collide, the form book generally goes out the window. Maybe not as much so as before, but, Meath still gave Gavin’s gang much more of a rattle than anyone had this summer thus far and much more than – in most quarters – they would’ve been expected to.
So, what’s the state of the overall picture? Well, from a Meath perspective, let’s stick to the glass half full theory. If there’s one tinge of regret, it’s that, with a bit better luck, it could’ve been even better. Such is sport, though, they’ll have their day, and it may not take too long to arrive.
When an opinion turns out to be well founded, it’s nice. Early season optimism about what Mickey Newman could add to the mix has been justified, in spades. The similarities between himself and the great Brian Stafford are stark. Not only do the hail from places that sound similar, but, the Kilmainham player possesses the same laid back, languid style – and steely nerve – as the legend from the ‘Wood. Furthermore, Newman is visibly growing in confidence with every outing. After an understandable nervousness early on, he went on to kick assuredly and brilliantly from dead balls and also clipped over three classy contributions from play to frank his ever growing stature within the team.
Add in the fearless youthful exuberance of the likes of Padraic Harnan and Eamon Wallace and the undoubted class of those just a bit older – Stephen Bray, Kevin and Graham Reilly (too bad to be true the last day), Bryan Menton, Brian Meade and Conor Gillespie – and it’s beyond question that Meath could be a very potent force on an even bigger stage, going forward.
For now, though, it’s all about Tyrone. I remain unmoved in my view that, while commanding and deserving the utmost respect, there’s no reason to fear them. Stating the obvious here, but, it could boil down to how well the midfield duo fair out against Tyrone’s terrific Cavanagh brothers.
Colm Cavanagh visibly tired against Kildare and was duly replaced by the talented Aidan Cassidy. Therein may lie – as was commented upon here before – Meath’s biggest worry. Namely, what to do were anything to happen Meade or Gillespie. The summer journey (so far) may have answered that. Andy Tormey has the size, strength and ability to become a major player in the setup.

What can be said, with conviction, is that, if Wallace, Bray, Newman et al get as much ball as Kildare did, they’re bound to make better use of it than the wasteful whites. The glass is half full.

Leave a Reply