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Moyles: Joe's a Royal coup

AFTER a highly tumultuous fortnight for Meath football, finally some green shoots of hope.

Joe Sheridan will return to the county before the week's end and straight back into Seamus McEnaney's set-up when the embattled squad regroup in preparation for their vital Leinster opener with Wicklow on May 27.

Whether the return of the Royals' cult hero can buoy them sufficiently to dispel the events of the last month is another matter, but according to Anthony Moyles, the unexpected development can only be classed as positive.

"I was pretty surprised when I heard it," admits the recently retired Moyles.

"He's only gone six weeks or whatever. But it can only be a boost. It's a bit of good news after a month of bad news between the relegation and all the rest of the stuff.

"He's well respected within the panel. Hopefully it means we're going to slightly change our style of play because our style of play of late hasn't suited us, to be honest."

Coming just six weeks after leaving for Boston, the emergence of the news that Sheridan had agreed to come home has raised plenty of eyebrows in the Royal County, but then Meath supporters have lived through so much drama over the past year, they're probably highly desensitised at this stage.

Whether the circumstances of his initial departure have been sorted out is another moot point, however.

"Joe was probably feeling like he was in the running for captaincy," Moyles muses. "Okay, that didn't happen. He was then demoted as vice-captain and Joe probably felt a little bit sore over that.

"He's 100 per cent as regards football. He just eats, sleeps and breathes it. They're a well respected family and he would be a very well-respected guy inside and outside the panel."


On a purely football level, Sheridan has always provided the sort of unpredictable spark which every great forward unit needs. And he fits the mould for the traditional full-forward, a trend which -- particularly in light of the abolishment of the square ball rule -- is rapidly coming back into fashion.

"He is a guy who can turn things around and get a score out of nothing," Moyles notes. "He is authoritative and that's what we need at the moment. There's not too many full backs who like facing Joe. I've marked him plenty of times and he's a very tricky customer. He's strong and he's also quick, he kicks left and right and he has an eye for goal."

The St Oliver Plunkett's/ER man, hopes Sheridan's return will prompt a revamp to a more traditional approach from Meath this summer.

"They don't really have too many big men in the forward line any more," he points out. "You have a lot of lads there who aren't over six foot. We've probably gone from having one of the biggest forward lines around to having a much smaller forward line.

"You have to try and reinvent the wheel sometimes but you go with what is strong in your county set-up. And Meath football has always had big, strong full-forwards."

Still, the surprise news is unlikely to deflect too much from the twin lows of relegation to Division 3 and then a failed heave against McEnaney, one which leaves the manager in the unenviable position of taking his team into the championship without the support of the majority of the county's clubs.


"It's a very difficult situation. Whatever Seamus McEnaney does, these four weeks are going to be the biggest weeks of his career," Moyles insists. "Because if they go out and lose to Wicklow, the writing will most certainly be on the wall.

"It's going to be a very difficult game," he adds. "But to a certain degree, the management can only do so much. The players are going to have to try to find a bit of confidence within.

"Just focus on the process. They have to say, 'Forget about everything outside of it. Forget about the noise', and get back to focusing on the process -- be it tackle rates or whatever they look at stats-wise.

"And if they can do that, they should win the game."

Moyles warns, however: "Wicklow are lying there in waiting for them and this is Wicklow's best chance ever to take Meath in a championship game."