independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

O'Dowd keen to reassert provincial superiority over Wexford

Dublin's dominance in Leinster has rewarded them with seven of the last eight senior football titles in the province, as dominant a period as they have ever known.

In some 26 Leinster games played since 2005, only Meath have beaten them (2010) and drawn with them (2007).

But if a points system for progress in the provincial championship was established over the same time period, Wexford would emerge as Dublin's closest rivals.

Two finals, four more semi-finals and two quarter-finals eclipse Meath's title in 2010 and their final defeat last year in addition to six quarter-final exits, five in a row from 2005 and 2009.

It is a point not lost on new Meath manager Mick O'Dowd who fully appreciates the record in Leinster Wexford have built up under successive managers Pat Roe, Paul Bealin and Jason Ryan.

"Over the last three or four years Wexford have really performed on the big day, particularly in the games against Dublin. I think on the last two championship occasions they have beaten Meath as well," he said.

O'Dowd has sought to inject more pace into the team and his conviction to introduce 19-year-old sprinter Eamonn Wallace on the back of so little inter-county experience reflects that desire.

EXPERIENCE

"I think you need pace in Croke Park. You're always trying to blend it, get the right mixture between pace, experience and strength, different areas but it's a fair comment to say that's what we're trying to do."

The makeover has forced hard choices. Cian Ward was left out of the squad after the league and Brian Farrell and Joe Sheridan, two of the most prolific forwards over the last number of years, have had to bide their time on the bench.

But O'Dowd confessed satisfaction with the return against Wicklow in Aughrim.

"You are constantly looking for improvement so you'd never be satisfied but 1-17 was a good score to get," he said. "There was probably another goal and three or four other points that we could have taken too so we're heading in the right direction.

"The spread of scorers was nice too. With the fluidity of the game now, different players can find themselves presented with scoring opportunities. It's no longer just the responsibility of a forward."

O'Dowd admitted being among the last of the teams to feature in the championship was something that suited them.

"I think it suited us after the league to have a good period to get ready for June 15 but now that we are up and running I think it's good, two weeks is the optimum period."

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