Sunday 22 April 2018

Meath legend Giles wary Royal revival may be false dawn

Trevor Giles
Trevor Giles
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Trevor Giles is only too aware of the isolated nature of decent performances from Meath teams over the last decade.

Like the sunshine, every now and then they seem to pop their collective heads from out behind the clouds, apply a bit of heat, before making way for the storm clouds to gather once more.

And how those storm clouds have gathered at times.

Giles, a veteran of five Leinster finals between Dublin and Meath, finds himself back at the coalface once more, chiefly as Meath's physio, but more recently as coach to the forwards after Seamus McEnaney's makeover in the wake of what was a near fatal league campaign for him.

Giles and John Evans were added to the back room and results since then illustrate that those additions have been very positive.

In admitting that the victory over Kildare was the perfect ambush, Giles notes how highs with Meath in recent seasons have been too often followed by lows.

"It's obviously good for the GAA to have people talking about Meath and Dublin. It's good for kids in the county getting exposed to it. It can only do good," he reflected on a first Leinster final meeting between these rivals in 11 years.

"There's been an odd time (when Meath have prospered). We beat Mayo in the quarter-final a few years ago and everyone was saying it was like the old days. But we didn't play great against Kerry the following day," he recalled.


"And we got the five goals against Dublin a couple of years ago and everyone was saying this is great. We were flat enough against Louth then in the final.

"I'd be realistic. It was a great performance against Kildare, we're delighted, but ... until you string a few of those together and win a few titles, you can't say it's the old days back again."

Giles admits he had "no problem" with the introduction of an outside manager when McEnaney was appointed and his introduction to the back-room team at such a low ebb in April would certainly substantiate that.

"When it was done, it was done. The choice at the time was Gerry Cooney or Seamus McEnaney, and they went with Seamus. I had no problem with an outside manager. I suppose we all know there are plenty of people in the county who do... And some who don't.

"It's done now and I think if this team manage to win a Leinster final this year ... "

Giles, who was Footballer of the Year in 1996 and '99, sees himself as physio first and a football coach second, but his quiet influence has been acclaimed, nonetheless.

"In fairness, Seamus would never come across as having all the answers. He'd ask me plenty of things during the year, what I thought, and he'd ask lots of other people -- which is a good sign of a fella. He's open to suggestions.

"I had plenty of chats with him about football. I've been involved in the underage a good bit the last few years, so I'd have a reasonable knowledge of a lot of those young lads.

"At the end of the league, he rang everybody involved to discuss what things could we do a little bit better. And he just said would you do a bit with the forwards ... and it's literally just a bit. At training, I spend nearly all my time indoors with the injured lads, so I just get a few minutes with the forwards most nights and do a bit of kicking, shooting."

Giles feels that Meath's poor underage record, especially at U-21 level, may actually distort the real picture somewhat.

"There's lots of things we could still be doing better at underage. Underage is funny. I suppose you want your teams winning provincial titles or All-Irelands and giving them experience of winning in Croke Park. We haven't been doing that.

"But your other scenario -- like Kerry have had over the last years -- you get one or two good lads coming through every year and that's all your senior team needs, if you can get them in the right positions that you're short in.

"Colm O'Rourke had two years as U-21 manager, I was with him. Westmeath beat us in 2010.

"We thought we had a very good team that year -- Damien Carroll, Graham Reilly, Paddy Gilsenan and Mark Collins, that was our forward line; Brian Sheridan, Conor Gillespie were in midfield and Bryan Menton, Ciaran Lenihan were also on the team. There were probably others I'm leaving out.

"John Heslin was very good that day and Westmeath beat us. But many of our players subsequently proved their worth by graduating to the senior team."

Irish Independent

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