Experienced Meath forward Graham Reilly believes they must beat Armagh in the Allianz football league on Sunday or risk their Round 4 clash with Cork turning into a relegation shoot-out.
Meath coughed up a four-point lead against Donegal on Saturday evening to lose by two, prompting former captain Reilly to claim that the Royals should have won and should be top of Division 2.
Instead, they host Armagh Sunday knowing that if they don’t win then their latest bid for promotion to Division 1 may be doomed after three games.
Meath travel to play Cork in Round 4 and Reilly reckons that game could end up being a head to head to avoid one of the relegation spots if Andy McEntee’s men aren’t careful.
“We probably should have won in Donegal and probably should be top of the league,” said Reilly.
“It’s a four-pointer now for both teams, against Armagh. If we win it will put us right back into the promotion mix. If we lose, then we’re facing the other way.
It would probably make the Cork game a relegation thing nearly. So it’s a massive game for both teams. Armagh are disappointed they didn’t win against Clare and they will fancy their chances of coming down and getting a result.
A number of managers have described this season’s Division 2 group as the most difficult in recent memory.
“I’ve played with Meath for 12 years and I’ve been playing in Division 2 for virtually all of that, we must have finished third on nine points maybe seven or eight of those 12 years,” said Reilly.
“In a way, you can nearly afford to lose two games and still get promoted but that’s not ideal.”
Meath are fifth in the all-time League roll of honour with seven titles, their most recent coming in 1994 while they contested the final in 2000.
They’ve been outside the top flight since the mid-2000s, however, and Reilly acknowledged they don’t have the raw talent they once did.
“We can’t afford not to have our work-rate up at 100 per cent because we’re not good enough to beat teams if we don’t,” said the St Colmcilles man.
“That’s something Andy McEntee is trying to bring into the team, that we work at least as hard as the other team and if we’re there with 10 or 15 minutes to go, we’ll win most games. Obviously we didn’t do that last Saturday!
Reilly, 29, said he believes that the Meath public remains firmly with the team despite a difficult few years when they’ve failed to make any league or Championship progress.
“Andy is always saying it to us that there’s a Meath crowd just dying to get in behind a really good Meath team, but we have to show it on the field,” he said.
“We showed it for 60 minutes last Saturday against Donegal.”