Thursday 14 December 2017

All change after McEntee's Royal reign gets off to a flier

Meath 2-22 Wicklow 0-9

Meath's Paddy Kennelly in action against John Crowe of Wicklow at Páirc Táilteann. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Meath's Paddy Kennelly in action against John Crowe of Wicklow at Páirc Táilteann. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

After seeing his reign as Meath manager get off to a winning start, Andy McEntee unveiled the extent of the job he's undertaking in the Royal County.

His side won with plenty to spare in Navan yesterday, and while no-one passes any remarks of scoreboards in January, kicking 2-19 from play and generally controlling the game was enough to send the 4,000 or so in attendance in Pairc Tailteann home happy.

Meath's Bryan Menton in action against Mark Kenny of Wicklow. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Meath's Bryan Menton in action against Mark Kenny of Wicklow. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

But in his post-match briefing, McEntee was already thinking of Wednesday night.

Meath play DIT in Ashbourne, and the boss confirmed there will be an almost entirely different squad on duty for that game than the 22 that togged out yesterday.

"We'll have a different team out on Wednesday night," confirmed McEntee. "A totally different team. There might be a couple of the subs who might be the same but it will be a totally new starting 15."

McEntee went on to reveal that he's currently running a panel of 51 players which will have to be hacked back before the start of the League.

"That is part of it, when this competition is over and the League starts, we will have a look at cutting it. It won't be easy," he added.

Meath have trained six nights a week at times in this pre-season and that work showed early on as they opened up a 1-13 to 0-2 lead by the interval.

McEntee: Good start. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
McEntee: Good start. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

And while Wicklow improved in the second half, Meath still had plenty to spare as Bryan McMahon found the net to go with Cillian O'Sullivan's goal from the first half.

Graham Reilly was unveiled as Meath captain for 2017, replacing Donal Keogan, while McEntee also confirmed that Shane O'Rourke will play no part with the squad as his hip problems persist.

"It's a relatively young bunch, Graham is one of the experienced fellas and I think it's time he takes the responsibility of a position like that," said McEntee. "I think it will bring out the best in him. That's the idea behind it."

"Shane is just not in a position, physically. His hip is giving him too much trouble, the amount of time involved, the work involved, it appears that he just wouldn't be up to it."

And as the competition and season unfolds, McEntee insists "appetite and intensity" will be the core values of his side.

"You're looking for certain things at this time of year and the effort and the tempo and physicality and all those sort of things were certainly good in the first half," he said.

"It all died a bit in the second half and that's kind of a mental thing rather than a physical thing. Hopefully we can work on that.

"There's a couple of values that we like to see in our team and we hope to show them time and time again. I thought the work-rate was good, even though we dropped a bit in the second half. But the appetite and intensity was good and that's one of the things that's non-negotioable."

For Wicklow counterpart Jonny Magee, yesterday represented a chance to look at some new faces as he suffered yet more turnover in his squad.

However, he is boosted by the return of Seanie Furlong to the county set-up.

"We were looking at lads and their lads were out to impress as well," he said. "Andy is in with a new management team.

"There was an article (about Meath football) and there was a lot of talk about Dublin in it so they are at a different level to us in terms of where they are at in the League.

"They missed out on League promotion by a point (last year) and they are a few divisions above us; they were fired up, we were trying to look at a few players, so at the moment they are a different level.

"In the second half we were a bit more solid, we gave away some silly ball and tried to force it a bit. Any loss is difficult but our aim is to try and get lads ready for the League really."

Scorers - Meath: B McMahon 1-3, C O'Sullivan 1-2, F Ward 0-4 (3fs), G Reilly, S Curran 0-3 each, P Kennelly 0-2, K Ross, C Downey, D Tobin, C O'Brien, W Carry 0-1 each.  Wicklow: J McGrath 0-6 (4fs), P Byrne 0-2fs, S Furlong 0-1 each.

Meath - J Hannigan; D Keogan, D Tobin, M Burke; C Downey, S McEntee, S Curran; B Menton, C O'Brien; C O'Sullivan, G Reilly, P Kennelly; K Ross, F Ward, B McMahon. Subs: S Tobin for Ward (47), A Flanagan for Kennelly, R O Coileain for O'Sullivan (both 55), W Carry for Downey, D Lenihan for McMahon, D MCQuillan for Burke (all 63),

Wicklow - R Lambert; C Hyland, J Snell, B Kennedy; J Crowe, R O'Brien, D Hayden; A McLoughlin, D Boothman; R Finn, C French, M Kenny; P Byrne, G Allen, M O'Connor Subs: J McGrath for Allen (18), D Healy for McLoughlin, S Furlong for O'Connor (both ht), M Cullen for Crowe (60), E Murtagh for Boothman (56), M Fitzsimons for French (57).

Ref - N Ward (Westmeath).

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