Donegal legend Martin McHugh made the comments last week in a general discussion in which he labelled the current Championship set-up “a mess”, that only favours an elite few.
The 1992 All-Ireland medallist and father of current Donegal forward Mark claimed that several traditionally strong football counties have fallen away as All-Ireland contenders, name checking Meath in his argument.
“We’re losing counties every year,” claimed McHugh. “Roscommon are probably gone a while, Meath are even gone a while.”
Rookie Royal County boss O’Dowd refused to be drawn into a war of words with McHugh but pointed out that the 2010 Leinster champions’ recent All-Ireland championship record stacks up favourably.
“It depends what perspective you put on things — Meath were in an All-Ireland semi-final in 2007 and 2009,” said O’Dowd.
“It just depends on where you want to look at things from. I don’t dwell too much on what people are commenting on because I don’t have any control over that.
“I think the stats are showing over the last while how important it is to be in Division 1. Maybe that’s showing up even more so in the last year or two. Most counties, I imagine, that’s their goal, to get into Division 1.”
Meath have built on their own promotion to Division 2 by beating Wicklow in the Leinster championship, securing a semi-final clash with Wexford at Croke Park this weekend. “I’d say the same 26 that were there against Wicklow will be available, with no additions to that,” said O’Dowd. “That means Davy Dalton is not ready or Eoghan Harrington or Seanie Curran.”
It means O’Dowd may stick with the same line-up that overcame Wicklow by five points last time out. Eamonn Wallace, also a talented sprinter, impressed as part of a new look forward line full of pace.
“I think you need pace in Croke Park,” said O’Dowd. “You’re always trying to blend it, get the right mixture between pace, experience and strength.
Ex-Meath forward O’Dowd revealed his belief that pace is a big tool in the battle against blanket defending which is being employed widely in the modern game.
“I’d say pace and accuracy, accuracy with your kick passing or fist passing,” said the Skryne man. “But pace definitely helps.”
Aside from Wallace, Mickey Newman, Graham Reilly and Stephen Bray have plenty of pace though getting the entire unit to click as he wants may take some time.
“Most managers are constantly looking for improvement so you’d never be fully satisfied but 1-17 against Wicklow was a good score to get,” claimed O’Dowd.
“There was probably another goal and three or four points that we could have taken too so we’re heading in the right direction.
“We had eight or nine different scorers I think. With the fluidity of the game now, different players can find themselves in front of goals and they all need to be able to pop it over the bar or go for goals. So that was nice to see.”