No divided loyalties for Meath's Dalton in final showdown with Lilies
DAVY Dalton's distinguished Kildare heritage won't cost him a thought in Sunday's O'Byrne Cup final clash as Meath seek to continue their good form in preparation for the league.
Dalton has his heart and mind firmly in the Royal County camp and is focused on the task of carving out a morale-boosting win against the Lilywhites.
If he was an American, he would probably be 'Davy Dalton III' as his dad is Davy Dalton, a former Kildare All Star, and his late grandfather, also Davy, captained the Lilies to a Leinster title in 1956.
But in Meath terms, he's a Dalton original, as he was brought up in the Summerhill area following the family's move there in the mid-90s.
"I lived in Kildare until I was 10 when we moved from Kilcock to Summerhill. I carried on playing with Kilcock for a while until the lads in Summerhill got their hands on me - and then there was no turning back," said Dalton.
"I've a few ties with Kildare alright, but it's just another game of football. It's very early in the year and I'm sure we won't read too much into the result."
Dalton's performances in the O'Byrne Cup have been marked by the dash and eagerness that comes naturally to the Summerhill clubman and perhaps there's an extra bit of enthusiasm after a 2013 season blighted by injury.
It all looked so promising in the spring as Dalton lit up Croke Park with a searing run capped with a powerful shot to the Monaghan net in the Division 3 final.
Meath fell just short that day, but promotion to Division 2 had been achieved and that was the first target for manager Mick O'Dowd and his troops.
For Dalton, the Monaghan game proved a turning point in the wrong direction as a hip/groin injury, which he aggravated in the match, caused him to miss the peak-season action.
"I got two injuries in the one day and one kind of masked the other. The (ankle) ligament injury was a collision, but the groin was just a chronic injury that had been building up," he said.
"I didn't realise until I came back after the ankle injury that I had the osteitis pubis, and that was more serious than the ligaments, so that ruled me out for the summer."
The injuries also curtailed Dalton's involvement with the Summerhill squad, which included his brother Sean. They went on to win the county title and reached the Leinster semi-final only to lose to eventual winners St Vincent's of Dublin.
But Dalton is now looking ahead and is keen to re-establish himself in the Meath team.
"It's great to be back with the lads. Micko and the management team were very patient with me last summer and I'm just delighted to be playing," he said.
Meanwhile, long-serving forward Stephen Bray was rested for Sunday's win over DCU at Navan due to a combination of flu and O'Dowd's wish to give game-time to as many players as possible. Bray will be available for selection for the final and looks forward to the rest of the season.
"I'm just appreciating the situation I'm in. I enjoy the game. I feel in good shape and I'm still able to make the commitment of inter-county football," said Bray. "We have a good management team over us and we're looking forward to the year ahead."
Elsewhere, Meath GAA have apologised for a delay in fans getting into Pairc Tailteann last Sunday. It was caused by technical difficulties to their ticketing system. The match started 10 minutes late.
League tickets for €10
The GAA have announced that tickets for top-flight hurling and football games in next month's leagues will be available for €10 if purchased in advance.
Supporters will be charged €15 at the gate but €10 tickets are on sale at usual outlets as well as Supervalu and Centra stores and online at www.gaa.ie/tickets.