It was the ultimate ‘where were you when’ moment and Meath manager Mick O’Dowd doesn’t need to think too long about where he was when Joe Sheridan scored that goal six years ago.
“I’ll give you a good one,” responded O’Dowd, “I was actually sitting beside Colin Kelly!”
Kelly, of course, is the current Louth manager whom O’Dowd will find himself next to again on Sunday at Parnell Park when the counties face off in the Leinster quarter-finals.
There’s a little less on the line this time around though you might struggle to convince Louth supporters of that.
After 2010, when they were infamously robbed of a first Leinster title since 1957 by Sheridan’s illegal injury-time goal, every opportunity to take down Meath is seen as season defining.
They did exactly that in 2012, relegating Meath to Division 3 football with a final round win and celebrated it with great gusto.
From Meath’s perspective, O’Dowd described 2010 as a moment in history that was parked some time ago though he’ll never forget the circumstances as they unfolded that crazy day.
“We ended up sitting together just by chance,” explained O’Dowd.
“We were in the premium level. I’d know Colin but we weren’t going to the game together. Whatever company we were in we just ended up sitting beside each other.”
Asked if Kelly hoisted him over the safety barriers after Sheridan’s goal, O’Dowd smiled: “No, he didn’t throw me over. I suppose my big memory of it is that it was when we’d come out of the stand that we got to see the goal up close on the TV. Obviously, we’d seen from a distance what was going on but sure look, enough column inches have been written about it at this stage.
“No doubt it will be mentioned in the build up to this game but, really, I don’t know how many of our team would have been even involved.
“Mickey Burke was injured I think. Paddy O’Rourke and Graham Reilly were involved. “I’m not sure how many of the Louth team were involved at that stage.
“You know, it’s just one of those games in history that is spoken about a lot by both sets of supporters particularly and probably journalists too.
“It’s written about by journalists a good bit and understandably so but, for us, it has no influence or impact on us.”
Louth are optimistic about serving up championship revenge this weekend following a positive Allianz League and a 10-point first-round Championship win over Carlow.
But if O’Dowd’s long-term plans, which he first revealed upon his appointment in late 2012 had come to fruition, then this game would be almost a done deal for the Royal County. The former Meath forward spoke at that stage of a three to five-year plan to reinstall Meath at the top table of the game.
But their league and Championship progress since then has been limited.
“There were pillars of that plan that were cut down at the knees, to pardon the pun, for some fellas,” said O’Dowd. “I never picked a team with Conor Gillespie, Shane O’Rourke, Stephen Bray and Kevin Reilly, all in it and I thought I’d be doing that every time I picked a team. We ran Dublin close in 2013. We got out of Division 3 to Division 2, were ready to go the following year. We introduced somebody like Eamon Wallace.
Then the following year the two midfielders had cruciates, Conor Gillespie and Brian Meade. Eamon Wallace was gone with the same injury, then Kevin Reilly’s injury situation, Shane hadn’t come back. All of that stunted what we were talking about.”
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