McEntee has turned Royals around, reckons Geraghty

As Meath stand on the brink of promotion to Division 1 for the first time in 13 years, former star Graham Geraghty has commended manager Andy McEntee for handing over a lot of responsibility to coach Colm Nally.

McEntee has turned Royals around, reckons Geraghty

As Meath stand on the brink of promotion to Division 1 for the first time in 13 years, former star Graham Geraghty has commended manager Andy McEntee for handing over a lot of responsibility to coach Colm Nally. Former Louth selector Nally, who has managed Castleknock and Fingal Ravens in recent years as well has having played for both Louth and Dublin, came on board ahead of this season and the impact is there for all to see.

Geraghty, a member of the Meath team that last played in the top flight, compliments McEntee for the appointment and giving Nally the remit to put his mark on his players.

“To be fair to Andy McEntee, he was probably under a bit of pressure last year but he’s really turned it around this season. He’s kind of gone outside the county for a coach in Colm Nally, who I would rate very highly, and he’s given him the reins to do what he does best. It’s a good sign in a manager that he is able to delegate and outsource stuff that other people are better at and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

“The team seems to be benefiting from it — they’re playing a lot better football. They play defensively at times but we have seen the attacking flair coming through this year that we would have associated with Meath football in previous years.”

In style, Meath have become more malleable but the face of the team has changed too — from the side that lost to Tyrone in Navan in last June’s All-Ireland SFC qualifier, only seven faced Clare on Sunday. Graham Reilly did come off the bench in Ennis and was present from the off against Tyrone and there are others who remain in the panel but then some have also stepped away.

“One or two left of their own accord and there’s a lot of commitment there and lads just don’t want to give it,” points out Geraghty. “They probably thought they weren’t getting the results they wanted to get. Things are looking good and people in the county are starting to talk again about football, which hadn’t been happening for the last number of years, which is good.

“I know from experience that when you’re winning games it’s a lot easier to go out and play well and sometimes win more games that you shouldn’t. There have been times in recent years when Meath have been six or seven points up in games and lost. Now, we’ve seen them chasing games and wearing teams down and getting the results that are needed. That’s great for team morale.”

Promotion would the biggest thing to happen to Meath in almost a decade, Geraghty feels. “From where we’re coming from in 2010 when we last won a Leinster title and we all know how that went, it would be huge. Division 1 is key and it would be a huge step forward for this team and a great confidence booster going into the Leinster championship.

“The draw favours us a small bit — we would be favourites to reach a Leinster final although other teams will have something to say about that. It would be disappointing if we didn’t get there. Dublin are Dublin and have taken over but they’ve been beaten three times in the league and it does give teams belief that they’re not invincible.

“But (getting to) Division 1 first hopefully and bringing the likes of Dublin, Kerry and Mayo to Páirc Tailteann would be great. It wouldn’t be about winning Division 1 titles but competing with the likes of those teams, hopefully.”

Sacrifices off the field are difficult to notice but Geraghty can see those being made on the field in the physical stakes. “The way the game is played now it’s very hard to mix the old style grit that Meath had with the rules. But I think they are being a bit more physical and they’re not being pushed around. They can put it up with most of them and there’s that determination not to be bullied.

“Those games I was talking about when they were being pushed out of it, they’re standing up to them and closing the games out. There’s a steeliness there and the young guys are willing to put their bodies on the line, which is good to see. Because when we weren’t winning anything it wasn’t the in-thing to play for Meath but now young people are looking at it as a thing to admire again.”

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