Thursday 20 September 2018

'We had it won, then had to win it again'

'We had the game won in a way at half-time, then we had to win it again, I suppose,' was Meath manager Joe Treanor's reaction after watching his charges scrape through to the All-Ireland semi-finals.

The Royals led by 10 points at one stage, but that advantage was reduced to the minimum entering the closing stages following a supercharged revival by Derry. However Meath prevailed, scoring the game's last four points to see them through to a semi-final for the first time since 2012.

'We lost the game for about 10 or 12 minutes in the second half, we knew Derry were going to come back at us,' Treanor continued.

'We got the opening point of the second half and we thought that would settle us, but Derry got back into the game. They had a purple patch and we couldn't get our hands on the ball.

'But we have played a lot of Ulster teams over the last 18 months and I'd like to think that we know how to deal with them and in the last 10 minutes of the game we regained our composure and took control again. We tagged on the last four points after going for about 20 minutes without a score.

'We made a few silly mistakes in the second half, Derry dominated midfield and we gave away possession cheaply, but this is a very solid group of players and they know how to see out a game like this and they took control again for the last 10 minutes.

'Our backs were against the wall, but we recovered and that's the sign of a team that has matured, a team that is accustomed to winning.'

According to the Monaghan native, this was just the sort of game Meath needed following a relatively easy passage through Leinster.

'The players will have learned a lot from this game, I don't mean any disrespect to Laois or Kildare, our last two games in the Leinster MFC. We won those games quite easily and we needed a game like this today.

'Derry asked some serious questions and we had the answers, but we were aware that we were going to get a big test from Derry. It was like playing them on their own ground as they have played three or four games here at the Athletic Grounds.

'This was a big test for us and the boys absolutely stepped up and did the job they had to do. When we conceded the penalty and lost Harry O'Higgins to the black card I wasn't too concerned. We had to fix that problem, but we have a balanced panel and we had guys who could cover that position.

'We sent in Killian Price and he was able to do his job for the last eight or nine minutes, Killian did exceptionally well when he came in.

'The bench is important and we made a couple of changes in the second half. Our goalkeeper made a couple of super saves in each half, all vitally important.'

Treanor said his side could now look forward to a semi-final and a trip to Croke Park.

'We can look forward to Croke Park now, a big game and a big pitch. It will suit us and we certainly won't be overawed by the occasion. Up until now I hadn't looked any further than today's game, but we will have a look at the other quarter-final now and get a look at who our opponents will be.'

Drogheda Independent