Sunday 4 December 2016

Promotion the 'ultimate aim' for Royals - Newman

Published 02/02/2016 | 02:30

Mickey Newman is determined to help Meath secure a place in the top flight of the Allianz Football Leage for next season. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE
Mickey Newman is determined to help Meath secure a place in the top flight of the Allianz Football Leage for next season. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE

Meath forward Mickey Newman believes the Royals need to make the step up to the top flight of League football in order to build on their recent progression.

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For the last two seasons, the Royals have come within a whisker of promotion with third-place finishes in the second tier.

Last year, they lost out on promotion to Roscommon on the head-to-head rule but might have avoided that scenario had the not lost a seven-point lead at home to Laois in a game they eventually drew.

And while Newman agrees that Division 2 is competitive, he describes promotion as the "ultimate aim."

"Getting up to Division 1 is obviously the ultimate aim," said the Kilmainham clubman, who hit 1-4 in the win over Armagh in Pairc Tailteann on Sunday. "But Division 2 is a competitive league as well so we can learn a lot from it."

Scoreless

The Royals held the Orchard scoreless in the second half on Sunday to get their new Lague campaign off to a flying start.

And former All Star nominee Newman agrees that, with just three of their games fixed for Navan, they need to make home advantage count.

"We have been in this division for the last two or three years so we know what it is all about and we didn't expect anything else from Armagh," he said.

"They gave us a good tough game so to get off to a good start was key.

"The home games are massive. We slipped up to Laois year and you just want to be winning your home games. It just gives you that impetus going to the games on the roads."

Meath's 2015 Leinster Championship ended in disaster with Westmeath's come from behind win in the semi-final, and they exited the back door at the hands of eventual All-Ireland semi-finalists Tyrone.

"We were disappointed last year with the way the Westmeath game went. The Tyrone game was a good tough game and we just came off the wrong side of it," said Newman.

"I didn't think we did too much wrong but we have set certain standards for ourselves and you want to be doing better every year. Hopefully we will see that coming through the League."

That defeat to Westmeath was the Royals' first in history in the championship but Newman doesn't believe that result will haunt the group this year, saying: "You could be beaten any day and that is just for other people to talk about. Records and stuff, none of that bothers us."

After seeing off Armagh, Meath travel north on Sunday to face Fermanagh, who went down to Derry last weekend.

"It's the same again, you're going to be hearing it a lot this year in this League. There's five northern teams and every week you will have to up it or you will be beaten," said Newman.

Meath are likely to be without Graham Reilly for that match as he recovers from a knock picked up in the O'Byrne Cup final.

Donncha Tobin isn't expected to return to action for Mick O'Dowd's side for another couple of weeks but otherwise Meath expect to be pulling from a full panel in Enniskillen.

Fermanagh went down to Derry in their League opener but O'Dowd is wary of a backlash this weekend.

"We were beaten in the first round of the National League last year and we were fairly hurting the following Sunday and produced a big display against Kildare so I'd be wary of a team that loses one Sunday," he said.

"They should have learned a good bit and they'll be ready but of course the target is to get two points."

Irish Independent

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