Friday 22 September 2017

Royals have respect for Dublin but don't fear them, insists Bray

Stephen Bra
Stephen Bra
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

MEATH star Stephen Bray has warned his team-mates to be prepared for the relentless tempo Dublin will set in tomorrow's Leinster final.

The Royals face Division 1 opposition for the first time in this championship campaign and, having watched Dublin dismantle Kildare, Bray knows his side are stepping up in class.

"The pace they are playing at – they just looked very impressive and they were enjoyable to watch," said the Navan O'Mahonys man. "It's not defensive or anything like that. It's very attack-minded, and they're really trying to, I suppose, go for the jugular with teams and really put you on the back foot. So it's going to be tough.

"You could see some of the Kildare lads, they were out on their feet at times, just the pace the game was being played at, so we have to be ready for that – that we are going to be out on our feet at stages. But mentally you have to know that you will recover and just keep going."

THOUGHTS

The bookmakers expect the Royals to stay within single figures of their opponents but the former All Star argues that Meath can't afford to think like that. "If you are to win, you can't let those thoughts come into your head, otherwise what's the point in showing up?" he said.

"The way Dublin are being talked about now, it's about an All-Ireland for them, they look that strong, it's nearly a waste of time unless you are Donegal or Kerry, competing against them.

"In sport in general there are plenty of teams that are well talked up and it doesn't always work out for them. For Dublin, they have to deal with that pressure, they are now being touted as not just Leinster but All-Ireland champions and they have to play three or four games before that happens so that is a lot of pressure to be dealing with.

"We are all only human at the end of the day. Irish people in general like being underdogs – if you look at the national rugby team – it's when you produce your best performances.

"Ireland beat Australia when Australia were hot favourites in the World Cup and then Ireland lost when they were expected to beat Wales. It's not impossible, it is going to be a massive task but we certainly don't think it's impossible."

Bray scored two goals in their victory against Dublin in the Leinster semi-final three years ago and believes that growing up playing against Dublin players on a regular basis helps reduce the fear-factor.

"(With) neighbouring counties there's great respect and there's rivalry there and you would have played each other at schools level or club level or in challenges.

"I think when you do have plenty of interaction like that you don't fear a team as much, but when you don't play a team as often then maybe there is a greater fear because of the unknown," Bray added.

"I think most of the players are well used to playing Dublin at underage level.

"We have got respect for Dublin, but we definitely don't fear them."

Irish Independent

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