Champions can halt Meath’s resurgence

By the time Meath take to the field tomorrow afternoon, it’ll be 95 days since the county executive failed in their attempt to oust Seamus McEnaney as manager.

Relegated to Division 3, chairman Barney Allen said he had taken the action in response to supporters’ fury and concern following the final round defeat by Louth.

One wonders just how many of that following will be among the 60,000-plus crowd expected at Croke Park.

It’s difficult to remember any other time when a county’s attitude towards a team, let alone a manager, has changed so much in such a short space of time.

But, as Seán Boylan says, there’s a certain madness to Meath football that they can always prevail regardless of the circumstances. They have an instant knack of being able to turn things around.

Such self-confidence had its genesis against their age-old foes in 1991. But will this new-found optimism be enough to deprive Dublin of an eighth provincial title in nine years?

Dublin’s performance against Wexford was better than has been reported and certainly will be better here with the Brogan brothers back in form.

Cian O’Sullivan makes a welcome return to the defence and looks suited to marking the excellent Graham Reilly, while Michael Darragh Macauley is sure to fall back to midfield where Meath have made hay against Wicklow, Carlow and Kildare.

Stephen Cluxton’s kickouts aren’t as strong an attacking attribute for Dublin as they used to be, although Macauley gives him another option alongside Eamonn Fennell, Denis Bastick and Paul Flynn.

Damien Carroll’s playmaking against Kildare won’t have gone unnoticed and Kevin Nolan could be given the brief of keeping tabs on him.

John Evans and Trevor Giles will have have noted how Wexford made inroads by keeping their wing-backs back to ensure gaps between the two defensive lines aren’t exposed.

Kildare had shown themselves to be brittle before losing to Meath but Dublin don’t push the panic button as quickly (look at Diarmuid Connolly’s sending off last day).

If they get a tough encounter to go with what should be another Leinster final win, they’ll be delighted.

Verdict: Dublin

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