2010 loss gives us 'trepidation' over Royals clash - Bastick
Published 22/06/2016 | 02:30
So here he stands. The years roll by and still, Denis Bastick endures.
He is a thoroughly modern footballer but a bit of a throwback too. There's no secret to what he does. He works hard, kicks well, keeps his business tidy. The Dublin panel is probably the most competitive around but Jim Gavin has been given little choice. Bastick's place in the set-up has never really been in doubt of late.
He has three All-Ireland medals now and is part of an exclusive group of 12 that have featured in the finals of 2011, '13 and '15.
Not bad going for a player who didn't make his Championship debut until he was 28. He's made up for lost time since but at 35 now, he knows time is ticking by fast.
"I'm still in the moment now. I know from my past that things can change so quickly - I know not only from myself through injury but from seeing what everyone else is going through," he says.
"You are there with 30 or 36 guys and if you make it through the year there are at least five or 10 other guys who didn't make it between injuries and whatnot and being dropped off the panel.
"You are not only living your own experiences but you are feeling for those guys as well.
"Some day I will I'll look back, but at the moment I'm completely focused on what I'm trying to achieve right now."
It's 25 years since Meath and Dublin held the country in thrall and on Sunday they'll go again. Over four weekends 25 years ago they got hot and heavy but rarely nasty. It's the kind of football Bastick reckons he'd have enjoyed.
"Those were physical strong men going toe to toe," he says. "And I'd say it was enjoyable to play in.
"I'd say there were sore bodies after the game, and the fans liked that kind of stuff. They like a bit of hard football and hard tackling - it brings an added excitement to the game; whereas now I think you are leaning towards more speed and more end-to-end stuff and that brings its own excitement too. It's a totally different game."
Through the changes in football Bastick (below) has survived and thrived.
Last year as Brian Fenton emerged from nowhere to nail down a spot in the Dublin team, Bastick was ahead of former Footballer of the Year Michael Darragh Macauley in Gavin's plans. The roles are reversed just now but he's virtually certain to see action on Sunday.
The psychology of Meath-Dublin games has changed recently. Dublin's dominance has been such that in a recent interview Jonny Cooper seemed a bit nonplussed by it all and why wouldn't he be? Meath just haven't been on the radar for his senior career.
Bastick, however, goes back little further; he was suspended in 2010 when the Royals put five goals on Dublin.
"There's a different mentality between Meath and Dublin and there's always this bit of. . . I wouldn't call it fear but a bit of trepidation if they come with a really good game. We remember 2010, it's not that long ago either. We were off our game that day.
"There is that bit of history with the older generation and recently enough with 2010."
The bookmakers, with the spread at around 13 points for Sunday, aren't putting much stock in that tradition.
And with Kerry firmly in their shadow just now and other main Sam Maguire contenders Mayo suffering a setback last weekend, the road looks to be opening up a little for the Dubs.
Bastick, however, had enough bad days to ensure he won't take anything for granted.
"I have been involved in teams where you didn't have the 100pc confidence and belief that you could possibly be the Tyrones and the Kerrys because they were the ones winning All-Irelands," he says.
"There was a great shift in our mentality as a team, and it probably took that win in 2011 to get to that stage. I'm not sure what other teams feel in terms of fear for us but I know what we felt when we were almost achieving and almost getting there and nearly had the belief we were good enough.
"2011 just bridged that gap and gave us that belief to say that we had been there and done that and then you can trade off your experience."