One morning long ago, while waiting in Sean Boylan’s waiting room for a consultation with the man himself to sort out what was an extremely sore knee at the time, a book was encountered on the coffee table. Now read on…
The title of the work in question was The Struggle For Pairc Tailteann by Michael O’Brien, Godfather of all things Walterstown and mastermind of Meath’s sensational National Football League success of 1975.
Truth be told, I never did get to read the publication and have never come across it since. But it did come back to mind most recently. Hardly surprisingly, in the context of Meath competing in the Tailteann Cup imminently.
With regard to same, in the wake of our lads ending up in the Tier Two competition, there have been many wild and whirling words uttered about Meath having a sense of ‘entitlement’. As was said in the immediate aftermath of the Offaly defeat, we are in no position to feel entitled to or about anything and anybody thinking any different is delusional.
Thus, disquiet about it being some kind of ‘new low’ for Meath football moot. In a results driven business more often than not you will end up where you deserve to be. Are Meath among the top 16 teams in the country? Going on league form, they would come in at No. 14, with both Clare and Limerick beneath them.
However, by virtue of their victory over Cork, Colm Collins’ redoubtable Clare side leapfrogged Meath from the league standings. If looking at it honestly and dispassionately, how many of the teams in the race for Sam Maguire could Colm O’Rourke’s charges entertain realistic aspirations of beating?
Look, we all wish the scenario was different but it is what it is. To my mind, in view of our current status in the game, it would serve us far better to be able to compete against teams of similar ilk – or if we’re being totally honest – those whom you’d like to think we might be a length or two ahead of, to borrow a bit of racing parlance. What’s to be gained from going out against one of the bigshots and taking another flaking?
Winning is a habit just as much as is losing and it’s one Meath could desperately do with re-discovering sooner rather than later. Consider that they haven’t come out on top in a match at senior level since defeating Clare in the National League on February 5th. Which is, of course, why we are where we are. Of course it’s disappointing that we’re not in the Sam Maguire but, for this corner at least, the Tailteann Cup can be an opportunity for Meath and should be treated as such.
Even if there were no changes from the side which lost to Offaly – my inclination is that there might be several – it would still be a relatively new team. So if, as we all hope, they can get a tick or two in the credit column, that can only be a good thing.
To that end, the green and gold camp can be relatively happy with their lot following the allotment of groups for the forthcoming Tailteann Cup. Colm’s charges having been drawn in the same section as Tipperary and Waterford and Down. The groupings in total are as follows:
GROUP 1: Cavan, Offaly, Laois, London.
GROUP 2: Meath, Tipperary, Down, Waterford.
GROUP 3: Carlow, Longford, Limerick, Wicklow.
GROUP 4: Fermanagh, Antrim, Leitrim, Wexford.
Aside from all of the above, perhaps this is just me, but, there’s a sentimental side to our presence in the Tailteann Cup. I will admit that, even now, I’m not sure how the Tailteann Cup got its name, but it definitely had Meath connotations. After all, our home ground – arcaic though it depressingly is – is Pairc Tailteann.
Indeed, it was also owing to our impending participation in the Tailteann Cup that it was learned that the word Tailteann related to the Telltown area which is on one side of Navan. So, with tongue firmly in cheek, I’ve arrived at the following conclusion – It’s our Cup, so we’d have to consider it a glass half full situation!