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'08 reversal often looked over

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Matty Forde. Picture: Matt Browne/ Sportsfile

Matty Forde. Picture: Matt Browne/ Sportsfile

Matty Forde. Picture: Matt Browne/ Sportsfile

BECAUSE of what came soon after, Meath's amazing capitulation to Wexford at Dr Cullen Park in 2008 is often forgotten amongst Royal enthusiasts; it's certainly pushed deeper into that dark corner of the psyche where recollection dares not venture.

But the figures are both damning and spectacular. The match – a Leinster SFC quarter-final – wasn't live on TV but was available for streaming from RTé and by the time Wexford had scaled their Everest, the site had crashed through sheer volume of viewers.

Colm Coyle's team went 10 points up at half-time, opening Wexford up for fun, plundering goals through Stephen Bray and Graham Geraghty, and were it not for the perseverance of Wexford 'keeper Anthony Masterson and some less-than-fine finishing from Bray, Joe Sheridan and Cian Ward, the gap might easily have been closer to 15.

Wexford forward Redmond Barry remembers it in somewhat colourful terms. "Yeah, 10 down and it was just one of those things, the thing you hope happens every day where everything goes f****ng to plan.

"That's what happened in the last 10 minutes, nothing could go wrong. We were kicking scores from everywhere, we were winning every ball that was kicked out. The pressure came on them too when they had their scoring chances. Because we were on such a roll and they were maybe missing ones that they had put over earlier in the game. It's the level of performance you try and strive for but it only happens rarely."

SHOCK

Paddy Gilsenan was on the Meath minor team that year but remembers the day, the aftermath and the shock of it all rather than the match itself. "I was listening to it on the radio but I wasn't there," he explains. "I listened to the first-half on the radio and said, 'ah, I'll tip off here and do something, that's fine'. But they came back and I remember when I heard that Meath lost, I couldn't believe it."

After 52 minutes, the chasm still stood as wide as 10, the likelihood of anything other than a Meath romp looked highly remote. "We had a goal disallowed," recalls Joe Sheridan. "If we had got that, we would have gone eight or nine points up at one stage in the second half and it probably would have killed the game. We were 10 points up at half-time, we should never have lost it."

Barry kicked Wexford's first goal with 18 to play, a doubt-sower. Eight minutes later, PJ Banville cut the lead to three with 10 to play.

"Matty Forde kicked a point in the last minute from about 55 metres out," says Sheridan. "You could just see the life sucked out of us. When things happen like that, it's just not meant to be your day. You just have to move on from it."

Which, darkly for Meath, didn't even rank as their worst defeat of that weird year – Coyle's last as manager. His team went to Limerick and lost by nine points which, even in the wild oscillations of Royal fortunes this past decade, must rank alone as the lowest of the low. "That," Sheridan agrees, "was probably the worst one."


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