Conlon making most of upswing in Royal fortunes

Rising Meath star James Conlon hopes the team’s graph is on an upward curve in the Leinster championship.

Conlon making most of upswing in Royal fortunes

Rising Meath star James Conlon hopes the team’s graph is on an upward curve in the Leinster championship.

The Royals stumbled past Offaly in Round 1 before defeating Carlow by 15 points in the quarter-finals.

They took their time to get going in Portlaoise last weekend but outscored Carlow by 2-14 to 0-5 from the 25th minute onwards.

Their reward is a June 9 semi-final clash with Laois at Croke Park and young attacker Conlon wants to keep improving.

“We were very disappointed with the display against Offaly, coming off the pitch it almost felt as if it was a loss,” said the St Colmcilles man, who hit three points as an impact sub against Carlow.

“We knew we had to step it up and I thought we did, we worked hard and we were patient.

We went at them with a bit of pace, unlike the Offaly match. Coming on and getting an opportunity was great.

"With Graham Reilly and a few of the other lads, I thought we injected a bit of pace.”

Conlon made his Championship debut as a sub against Offaly and got on the scoresheet that day before adding three more against Carlow.

The 2017 All-Ireland intermediate club final goalscorer may have done enough for a first Championship start on June 9.

“It’s a game in Croke Park and that is where you want to be,” he said. “At the start of the season you are looking to try to get into Croke Park and ultimately to the latter end of the Championship.”

Conlon and club-mate Reilly scored five points between them as subs against Carlow. Darragh Campion, Ethan Devine and Ronan Ryan also made their Championship debuts as subs.

“It’s difficult to get game time but that’s what you want in a squad, lads competing to get into the team,” said Conlon.

“The guys have been flying and it is probably a bit frustrating for the lads sitting on the bench but we are coming on to try to force ourselves into the team.

"Once we are winning that’s all that matters, if we can play our part so be it.

"I’m delighted to get an opportunity, it’s my first year in and you’re not expecting to get too much game time but everyone wants to put their name in the hat to be starting the next game.”

Meath have played 10 league and Championship games in total in 2019, winning eight and securing a last four Leinster place on the back of promotion to Division 1.

It’s a big improvement on 2018 when they failed to secure promotion and then lost both of their Championship games.

“I feel I have learned a lot since coming in here,” said Conlon. “Being involved changes your perception, the hard work, the Meath way.

"There is a really good atmosphere in the dressing room.

“That is something I hadn’t experienced before and it’s something I’ve latched onto this year.”

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