Meath joint-captain Donal Keogan is not considering relegation from Division 1 despite the county failing to claim a point in their opening four games.
Andy McEntee’s side find themselves three points behind Donegal and Mayo, both of whom have beaten the Royals, and their final three games are against the current top three teams in the top flight — Galway at home this Sunday, Dublin in Croke Park on March 15, before finishing up with a trip to face Monaghan on March 22.
The 2019 All-Star nominee remains hopeful they can avoid the drop. “I don’t think we are looking at that at all. We are still saying, ‘survival is the key, there are six points on offer there’. I think six points would probably be enough to keep you up. Obviously, every game from now on is hugely important.
“After the Mayo game we were quite disheartened. We played well in Navan, and they got a goal toward the end, we didn’t have enough time to claw it back. We came a point short. Last weekend, we gave Kerry a one goal and five point lead after 15 minutes. You give any Division 1 team that, I think they will be licking their lips. We got within three of them again, and were very unlucky with a couple of goal chances saved by their keeper.
“There has been very little in it in terms of results. It’s nearly a few moments each game here and there that we’ve come out the wrong side of. You could nearly be looking at sitting on four points and you could be halfway up the league table. So there is very little in it at this level, just the moment that potentially changes the results.”
Keogan maintains Meath are improving despite the defeats. “If we look at the league where we are now versus where we were at the end of last year’s league, we’re definitely going in the right direction.
“Andy gave the analogy before: If you look at the Facebook share prices nothing goes up in a straight line. There’s ups and dips and troughs. The general consensus is that we’re going in the right direction.
“And I think that can be seen. Last week’s perf[quote]ormance (v Kerry) was very good. Obviously, the result didn’t go our way. But the performance we’re putting in, we’re quite happy with that.”
The defender accepts his team’s discipline has to improve, though, as black cards have been costly including his one against the Kingdom.
“The one thing that’s obvious to me is how the black card at the minute seems to be a proper punishment.
“I can only speak for Meath. We had Conor Magill black carded against Donegal and they scored 2-1 or 2-2 in that 10 minutes. Again there we had two at the weekend and Kerry might have scored five points.
“For us, it has definitely been a bad thing. When black cards are coming you are supposed to be at a disadvantage and for us it’s proved so.”