Barry on Royal glory trail again as Na Fianna bid to dethrone O'Mahony's
Published 23/10/2015 | 02:30
Eamonn Barry is back in familiar territory.
On Monday, he'll look for his fourth Meath senior title as manager to go with the three on the bounce he won with Dunshaughlin at the turn of the millennium. He collected five as a player with Walterstown too.
And while Barry has been here before, his Na Fianna side are looking for a taste of the big time.
Ever since their promotion from the intermediate ranks, Na Fianna have been one of the best teams in the county, but senior silverware has eluded them.
They've come close at times but the championship, league and even Feis Cup finals have been lost. On Monday against perennial contenders Navan O'Mahonys, they'll get the chance to put that right.
"We've had some ups and downs this year," Barry said. "We hit a bumpy patch in the middle of the summer. We were beaten by Kells (Gaeil Colmcille) in the summer and we've a few injuries to important players like Jamie Queeney and Conor Downey, and we had a few lads studying.
"But things started to turn and we got to the Feis Cup final. And Kells beat us there again. And that was a big thing for us.
"Na Fianna have been one of the top few sides in Meath since they came up but they've never got a trophy in Meath senior football that would really announce themselves. So losing that game was a big blow for us."
Still they kept plugging away. They got out of their group and faced last year's beaten finalists Donaghmore/Ashbourne. Na Fianna produced their best performance of the year to run out handsome winners.
A familiar foe, Gaeil Colmcille, awaited in the semi-final and Na Fianna had enough to get by.
"We had trained quite hard for a six-week period and things started to come together," said Barry.
"Against Ashbourne we put in a great first-half performance. We were seven points up at half-time and we held that lead until the end. And when we played Kells it was the third time we met but we beat them this time."
Reigning champions Navan O'Mahonys await in the final. They'll be able to call on the recently retired pair of Kevin Reilly and Stephen Bray and they showed their power to kick 22 points in their championship semi-final win over Dunboyne.
"They are a serious team. They have a wealth of experience and they have brought in some nice young footballers too like Ruairi O Caoilean.
"There's loads of quality in there too but we've worked hard and we're ready for it."