independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Lack of steel undermining Royal reputation

After Tyrone lost their opening Ulster game to Donegal in May, Mickey Harte told everybody that his team would reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

They did just that by relying on their hard-earned cuteness, the brilliance of Sean Cavanagh and their ability to enforce their physical superiority on Meath at will.

This Meath team has only just gone past the kindergarten class in football terms, so they were easy meat for tough, seasoned campaigners from Tyrone.

Yet for the second successive game we saw clear signs of a new Meath emerging with lots of natural ability, as was also the case against Dublin in the Leinster final.

When they get a year in Division 2 and manage to recruit three or four new players of ability and physical power, their progress will advance quickly.

But Meath need an infusion of steel too if they are to cash in on the reputation of the county over the past decades. For the first time in my life I could not see a single hardman wearing a Meath jersey.

On Saturday some Meath players, talented as they were, were often thrown around the place like rag dolls as Tyrone hit first and asked questions later.

Meath have a special tradition that can never be abandoned, but at the moment they are in danger of losing that. No doubt Mick O'Dowd and his back-room team will be anxious to rectify that omission before the 2014 season.

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