Saturday 20 April 2019

Royals rule as Kierans gets his tenure up and running

Meath 1-15 Louth 1-11

John Savage

Wayne Kierans appeared to bite his tongue a little in relation to the new GAA playing rules experiment as his Louth tenure kicked off with a four-point derby defeat to Meath on Sunday.

Oliver Plunketts hosted the clash between the old enemies to mark the opening of their impressive new clubroom extension and Kierans admitted it was a useful exercise.

However, when it comes to the new playing rules the new Reds chief wasn't exactly dripping with enthusiasm.

The GAA is experimenting with five new rules in the next month's O'Byrne Cup and the ensuing National league campaign, with the two major changes being an offensive mark and the restriction on the number of hand passes permitted.

Louth and Meath each benefitted from a mark score apiece and Kierans conceded that the Aussie Rules style rule might grow on him, but he seemed a little less enamoured by the hand pass restriction.

'It was kind of sprung on me a bit because I didn't realise we would play the new rules today,' he revealed. 'In hindsight it was a good idea because we have to get a grip on them at some stage and I thought the ref did well. It's a learning process for us all, in terms of implementing the rules for one, but also in terms of how to coach them and come up with plans around them.

'I personally wouldn't be a fan of them but there's no point giving out about them. They're in now and we have to keep a positive mindset about them and do the best we can [with them].

'Both sides got a point off a mark and a couple of lads on both teams were caught by the handpass. There was a really good goal chance but it needed an extra handpass and it was correctly blown up by Cormac [Reilly]. That's one I suppose that...look there's no point in giving out about it, they're in and we have to make the most of it.

'I suppose the mark we might warm to over time and there are ways to build attacks to take advantage of it. So you never know that one could turn into a positive over time. We just have to work on them and get the players in tune with them.'

In terms of the game itself, there wasn't much between the sides until the closing stages when finished strongly.

Louth led early on when Conor Early and Tadhg McEnaney responded to an early Mickey Newman score, but Meath seized the initiative with a Newman penalty on 19 minutes after Philip Englishby was judged to have hauled down Colmcille's attacker James Conlon.

Ryan Burns grabbed the first score from a mark as Louth stayed in touch at the break, returning to the Plunketts plush new dressing rooms trailing by two points, 1-5 to 0-6.

Meath looked like they might streak clear in the third quarter as they extended their lead to 1-8 to 0-6 with points from Danny Quinn and Newman with a brace.

Louth pulled back two of those three points through Ronan Holcroft and Early, but Meath were soon five ahead again through Newman and Graham Reilly.

But a Louth purple patch saw Burns plunder 1-1 and Holcroft follow up with his second of the match to level matters with about a quarter of an hour to play.

However, Meath seemed a little fitter in the closing stages, which is perhaps no great surprise given Kierans late start on foot of his delayed appointment.

He nonetheless felt it was a solid workout.

Kierans felt it was a solid workout, but he won't be reading too much into it.

'It was just about getting up and running and getting them out there and also rewarding the lads that have been training hard, getting some minutes into them. So the objective has been fulfilled in that regard and we're happy with the workout.

'The result doesn't really matter, as I say it's about getting them up and running, getting minutes into the legs and working on a bit of shape. Obviously fitness as well, which is probably the most important thing at this stage.

'It was a competitive enough game, I think it was four points in the end so both camps will probably feel they took something out of it. Meath probably were a bit fitter in the last 15 minutes and they had a few more bodies to freshen things up. We're down a few in terms of numbers too, but that will all change over the next few weeks.

'Overall it was great day for the Plunkett's, their pitch is immaculate and the clubrooms are fantastic. They had a great day and I'm sure the two camps enjoyed their day out too.'

Meath scorers: Mickey Newman 1-6 (1-0 pen, 5f); Ben Brennan 0-2f; Graham Reilly 0-2; James Conlon 0-2 (1 mark), Danny Quinn, Ethan Devine, Thomas O'Reilly 0-1 each.

Louth scorers: Ryan Burns 1-4 (2f, 1m); Tadhg McEneaney 0-3 (1f); Ronan Holcroft, Conor Early 0-2 each.

Drogheda Independent