Tuesday 24 October 2017

Promotion a 'realistic' target for Royals - McEntee

Graham Reilly will captain Meath tomorrow in the new county jersey Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Graham Reilly will captain Meath tomorrow in the new county jersey Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Meath manager Andy McEntee insists Division 2 is "wide open" and promotion to the top flight is a "realistic" target for any side in the league.

McEntee's men kick off their campaign tomorrow when Kildare visit Navan with the Royals seeking a return to the top flight.

"I think it's realistic," McEntee said, when asked if promotion was a target. "For anyone in that division it's a realistic goal and it's definitely our aim. But you can't look too far ahead. It's an ultra-competitive division and I expect every game to be tight. A lot of teams there will fancy it."

Meath's O'Byrne Cup campaign started brightly with a convincing win over Wicklow but ended on a sour note with defeat at home to Louth at the semi-final stage.

"Anyone will tell you that most things don't go in a straight line. So it was a setback and a lot of fellas will be disappointed with their own performances. We had a lot of work done in the previous three weeks so was there tired legs or tired minds? Maybe, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they had more appetite on the day than we had."

Kildare also suffered a demoralising end to their O'Byrne Cup campaign when losing to a back-up Dublin side. But having first-hand knowledge of the club scene in Dublin from his time with Ballyboden St Enda's, McEntee insisted there was too much made of that defeat.

"Kildare didn't finish the game strongly but they put themselves in a position to win the game early on and they did that against a team whose names I all recognise. A lot of them have won All-Ireland minor and U-21 titles and they play a good standard in Dublin. There were no duds out there for Dublin."

And McEntee denied Dublin's success in the O'Byrne Cup was demoralising for the rest of the country.

"It's either glass half-full or half-empty. You could get discouraged or you can just roll up your sleeves and work harder."

Meath ran a panel in excess of 50 for January meaning there was a lot of experimentation and McEntee insists they won't be sure of their strongest team until later in the league.

"It's early yet, you'll know more after a few competitive matches. At this stage you'd have a fair idea of the guts of your team but there's another four or five positions that aren't sorted out yet and there are opportunities there for lads."

The Royals cut their squad back to around 40 in the past few days. It's understood Joe Sheridan is still part of the set-up though they will be without the likes of Mickey Newman and the manager's son James for the month of February at least.

Stuart Lowndes, who played for Dublin in the O'Byrne Cup in the past, is also still part of the panel while another Dublin native Stephen O'Connor can't be considered until his transfer is sorted out.

Irish Independent

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