Friday 22 November 2019

Attacking teams can progress – Reilly

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

TEAMS adopting a more traditional style of football can still compete at the top level, according to Meath star Graham Reilly.

Down ace Benny Coulter's comments that he wouldn't pay to watch football after he retires resonated with the Royals' forward, but he insists that many of the sides who will be involved in the latter stages of the championship will have more orthodox approaches.

"I can see where Benny is coming from with northern football, the way it has gone. You saw with Monaghan and Cavan, it wasn't a pretty spectacle. But even though our game against Wexford probably wasn't a high standard, it was still free-flowing football.

"It's great to watch. The likes of Dublin, Kildare and hopefully ourselves will be there in the latter stages of the championship.

"I don't think it makes a difference if you play the blanket defence because eventually you will get caught out and teams have players that can break that line. It is something that we are working on because we are going to have to get used to it in the latter stages of the competition."

Since making his championship debut in 2010, Reilly has developed into the county's most important player.

Despite Meath's erratic performances in that time, the St Colmcille's man has come close to an All Star in recent seasons.

He picked up two nominations in the last three years and was the championship's top scorer from play in 2012. There has been no let-up this year, with two official man-of-the-match awards in as many outings in the championship.

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Reilly has been deployed at midfield and experimented with at full-forward, but under Mick O'Dowd the Royals have opted for a more orthodox approach and, in that system, Reilly is used in his more natural position of half-forward. "We are trying to go back to the old tradition," he said. "Trevor (Giles) likes to play with six forwards up front. The more forwards you have up front the more scores you will get.

"We kicked 1-17 against Wicklow and 0-18 out there (against Wexford). That's good scoring. Obviously, at times myself, Peadar (Byrne) and Damien (Carroll) are going to have to drop back but that is just the way the game has gone now."

While he accepts Meath have much to improve on if they are to cope with Dublin and other top sides, Reilly insists the Royals are on an upward curve.

"I think we can improve. There are still a lot of young lads in this team and this is our second Leinster final in two years, but I think we can make that step. No team fancies playing us.

"That is an advantage that we always have, but we have to up our game. We had to up it from Wicklow and we did and now we have to up it another 20-30pc for the final."

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