Reilly urges players to keep Royals' expectations high
MEATH captain Kevin Reilly has called on his team-mates to live up to the expectation within the county and return the Royals to football's top table.
They start their Leinster campaign away to Carlow on Sunday after a second spring spent rebuilding under Mick O'Dowd in which they fell just short of gaining a second successive promotion and a return to the top flight.
Meath mixed the good with the bad in the league, going down heavily to Monaghan before drawing with Donegal in Ballybofey in a game they might have won.
And while no one is expecting a return to the the golden era of the late 1980s and '90s, optimism is building around the side on the back of strong championship performances against Dublin and Tyrone last year.
"As a Meath footballer, and in county Meath, everybody would have high expectations of the senior football team," said the 28 year-old.
"That is what we need to have. We want to get back up there where Meath football should be. We are now a year and a half down that road and, you know, we're just working to achieve that.
"All we can do is keep improving. We have a great management team in there, with Micko leading that. The lads have great ideas and they're putting everything in place for us to work towards that high standard that we need to be at.
"I think we're all the time improving and we're playing a nice style of football. We've some young lads in there as well that complement the established members just to drive on the standards. We'd be definitely hoping to do well."
The high rate of change in the Meath panel continued this year with the likes of Brian Farrell and Joe Sheridan jettisoned just days after Dublin had secured All-Ireland honours and Reilly agrees that this has senior members of the panel looking over their shoulder.
"That's the nature of the game. Someone might get comfortable with the same faces, the same panel year in, year out. We definitely have a fresh approach and that has been brought in with youth. We've some great young footballers in now that want to stake a claim this year never mind years to come. That's definitely driving standards and that's where you want to be in order to be any way successful.
"Micko and the management team are really trying to build a squad that will challenge. We're into our second year now and it's great to have so many new faces involved as well, even in these two years. You can see what Mick is trying to do, building a style of play that will be effective. We're getting there."