independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Flynn hits back at 'ill-informed' Carr amid Meath woes

Between them they won six successive All-Ireland titles from the mid-1990s, but after three rounds of the Allianz Football League the performance graphs for three of the four most successful teams in Gaelic football history makes for depressing reading.

Kerry, with 36 All-Ireland titles, have no points in Division 1; Galway, with eight All-Ireland crowns, have just three points in Division 2; and Meath, with seven All-Irelands to their credit, have just one win from three Division 3 games.

So much for the power of tradition.

At least Eamonn Fitzmaurice got a performance from his Kerry players in Newbridge against Kildare last Sunday, while Alan Mulholland can point to the fact that Galway were six points ahead at one stage and then had the resolve to come from behind to snatch a draw to put themselves in the exact same position as they were 12 months ago.

Only a last-minute penalty in the last round of the league against Kildare denied them a jump to Division 1.

Meath are in a much more perilous state than either of the other two traditional powers and there is a real prospect of a drop to Division 4 after humiliating defeats to Monaghan and Cavan.

New manager Mick O'Dowd has been beset with a series of injuries and absentees since he took over.

But Stephen Bray, who was among the substitutes on Saturday night after his recent return to training, could be ready for his seasonal reappearance at some stage on Sunday which will at least give some added leadership and experience in attack.

The return of captain Kevin Reilly on Saturday night after a prolonged Achilles heel injury should also help to calm nerves in the dressing-room.

However, the long-term injury list otherwise shows no sign of abating.

Shane O'Rourke has been laid up for some 18 months now and two hip operations later he is still struggling to get back out on to the field.

Mickey Burke has a hairline fracture of a bone in his foot and after suffering complic-ations he could be out for a further two months.

Shane McAnarney, who took over the captaincy last year, is also missing while Seamus Kenny may not feature until the last round of the league in April.

Two of the young players that injected impetus into their championship campaign last summer are also out long term. Alan Forde has a hip injury, while Damien Carroll broke a bone in his ankle and is unlikely to feature again in the league.

With an in-form Fermanagh visiting Navan – where they have been successful in the past – and a trip to Casement Park for the last game against Antrim, there is an imperative for Meath to pick up points in their next two outings against Roscommon and Sligo.

Tommy Carr's comments on RTE's highlights programme about the refusal of some of the county's former greats to step up to the mark and take responsibility for managing teams and helping to foster better underage systems in the county has been challenged by former Meath player Bernard Flynn.

Carr and Flynn went head-to-head on the airwaves over Meath's demise but Flynn yesterday hit back and suggested that the contention made by the former Dublin manager were "ill-informed and totally out of order."

Wounds

"Clearly old wounds haven't healed. His facts about former Meath players are completely wrong," fumed Flynn.

"Mick Lyons, Joe Cassells, Bob O'Malley, Tommy Dowd, Colm Coyle, Liam Harnan, Graham Geraghty and David Beggy have all been involved at some stage on various management teams, while Andy McEntee and Kevin Foley were involved with last year's All-Ireland minor team.

"Colm O'Rourke has done huge work with St Pat's and was also U-21 manager for two years recently.

"Over the last number of weeks a structure is being put in place by our new chairman Conor Tormey and Sean Boylan, who is director of games.

"Up to 20 former players have offered their services in a coaching capacity to underage development teams," Flynn pointed out.

Meath have not reached a Leinster U-21 final since 2001 but at minor level they have been much more successful, with Leinster titles in 2006 and 2008 and an All-Ireland final appearance last September.

So the perception that underage structures have fallen flat on their face is a little misleading on those advancements at minor level.

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