Let’s get the ugly business out of the way first. Meath conceded far too many scores, with a worrying degree of generosity. The case for the defence has plenty going for it however.
Whether by accident or design, Andy McEntee made eight changes from the announced line up, but those given the opportunity to put their hands up endured a chastening afternoon in the Castlebar sun. A Brian Conlon goal and some fine points from Eamon Wallace and James Conlon showed promise but with James Carr and the O’Connor brothers wreaking havoc at the other end the locals led by 3-11 to 1-07 at the midway point.
Padraic Harnan, Shane McEntee and Donal Keogan entered the fray for the throw in of the second half, while they were joined shortly thereafter by the returning Mickey Newman. All of which instigated a marked improvement from the men in the yellow jerseys.
Comprising some grand scores from Wallace, Conlon, Newman and a trademark Bryan Menton goal gave an indication of the quality of football this Meath team are capable of. Though at the same time, the day was a good illustration of the sense that they are still very much a work in progress.
Returning to Division 1 would be the best validation of the positive overtures outlined above. While in no way underestimating the challenge likely to materialise from Jack O’Connor’s Kildare side, the Royals are entitled to enter the encounter with plenty of hope and confidence.