If the Myth of Sisyphus rings true for any team in Gaelic games, it’s surely the Meath footballers.
Consistently facing Dublin in Leinster finals, only to be cast aside each time, must feel a lot like being consigned to roll a large boulder up an unforgiving hill.
Still, if Meath’s players are intimidated by the prospect of meeting their great rivals all over again this weekend, it’s not apparent. In fact, wing-forward Andy Tormey is confident the Royal County’s young squad — their average age is 23 — are capable of laying down an early season marker.
Asked if there’s any fear factor about facing Jim Gavin’s Dublin, albeit an experimental version in the O’Byrne Cup semi-finals, Tormey shook his head. “Definitely not,” said Tormey, a midfielder in last July’s 16-point Leinster final loss to the Dubs. “We seen last year that Donegal beat them, we even had our chances as well.
“Obviously they beat us by a good bit in the end but we’re going to look forward to hopefully beating them this weekend. “It would be great to get on top of them now and drive on for the rest of the year. If we could get one over them this early in the year, it would be good if we do end up meeting in the Leinster final again.
“But that’s a long way away. We want to concentrate on the league. But all going well we will meet them in the Leinster final and if we have one up on them it would be something stored away going into a Leinster final.”
Current Meath manager Mick O’Dowd always talked about building for the future. It’s apparent in the composition of his side which contains a host of U21 players and graduates from the successful 2012 minor team.
Tormey, a county finalist with Donaghmore-Ashbourne, is part of the new breed looking to rekindle past glories. “There’s serious competition in the panel there,” he enthused. “Even the subs who have come on in the last three O’Byrne Cup games seem to have really added to it.
“There’s no-one settled on a position which is the way it has to be. We obviously wanted to be winning things in the first and second year under Mick, that didn’t happen.
“But we’re in the third year now and the plan is for promotion to Division 1. We feel we have improved every year. We seem to be going a lot stronger than this time last year. We made the O’Byrne Cup final last year but the plan is to win it this year.”
They’ll first have to arrest a terrible run of form against their great rivals. Dublin have beaten Meath in the last three Leinster finals by margins of 16, seven and three points.
Meath could have key forwards Mickey Newman and Stephen Bray available but it will come too early for cruciate victims Conor Gillespie and Eamonn Wallace, who are still some weeks away from returning.
Shane O’Rourke is sidelined indefinitely with hip trouble while there’s no date set for last year’s captain Kevin Reilly to return from his own hip surgery. It’s understood James McEntee is also out for a couple of months.
Newcomers Conor McGill, Shane Melia and Ciaran McConnell could feature again.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved