Burke feels pressure lift following Royals’ revival

Kildare beaten, convincingly.

Dublin and a Leinster final to come. The men from Meath swarming on Croke Park with their tails up. All a far cry from Dr Cullen Park seven weeks ago when Wicklow had them by the scruff of the neck.

Remember? Harry Murphy’s lads scored the first five points inside the opening 14 minutes that day and, with Meath captain Seamus Kenny forced off with a season-ending injury, the obituaries were already half-written.

Meath approached the game having been relegated to Division 3 of the Allianz League and with Seamus McEneaney thumbing his nose at the county board after a failed putsch and now here they were about to bow out to Wicklow for the first summer since 1957.

“We were under pressure,” admits Meath defender Mickey Burke. “The crowd was on our back. Everything was going through your mind, but we managed just to swing that game around and... I don’t know, maybe it’s a snowball effect.”

There has been no magic wand, no silver bullet that has lifted the side from it’s spring morass but McEneaney, to his credit, sought new answers to old problems and Meath have been liberated from their weaknesses and despair.

A slew of players have been handed championship debuts and the influx of youth has given Meath an unpredictability that they lacked in previous years when beef was held at a higher premium than speed and agility.

New voices have helped too. Trevor Giles’s role has been upgraded from that of physio and unofficial sounding board to forwards coach while John Evans was enticed north from Kerry after his Pied Piper role came to an end in Tipperary.

There is the feeling, too, that the cards have fallen Meath’s way this summer. The opportunity to face Wicklow and then Carlow allowed the side to rediscover itself before the heavier duty work began against Kildare who were themselves flat on the day.

But with Dublin looming, Burke knows nothing has been achieved yet.

“There will be more expectation but we’ll just have to try and keep it low-key.”

Low-key. Sensible.

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