O’Rourke demands end to Royal hunger

THE father could never stand second best and the apple clearly doesn’t fall far from the tree where Shane O’Rourke is concerned.

The towering Meath forward is gearing up for the Leinster final knowing that a win would put him one fifth of the way to emulating his famous father Colm’s proud provincial achievements.

Colm, of course, also won two All-Irelands with Meath but while the current generation of Royal County players have reached two semi-finals since 2007, that’s as close as they’ve come.

As far as Shane is concerned, those two last-four defeats, one of which he was a part of in 2007, count for little as they were comprehensively beaten on both occasions by Cork and Kerry.

He’s grown up on a diet of silverware and believes that unless the county ends a nine-year wait for silverware by beating Louth on Sunday, they’ll have nothing to show for their efforts, only failure in recent years.

“I don’t think you deserve credit for getting to All-Ireland semi-finals and getting beaten twice,” claimed O’Rourke. “I would consider that a failure.

“When you get to an All-Ireland semi-final, you’re going to be as good as the other teams that are there.

“So, when you get there, you have to be winning those games.”

A third All-Ireland semi-final appearance since ‘07, this time through the front door, would be a horse of a different colour, though.

“Winning Leinster is a huge thing for Meath,” continued O’Rourke, who missed much of 2008 and 2009 due to back and hamstring problems.

“Obviously we haven’t won one since 2001. Football is the heart and soul of Meath and not winning a Leinster in that long is a massive gap for a county like Meath.

“That was our initial aim at the start of the year. A Leinster title was and is our aim.”

The return to full fitness and top form of both Kevin Reilly at full-back and O’Rourke up front, allied to the unearthing of wing-forward Graham Reilly has buttressed Meath’s bid for provincial success.

For O’Rourke’s part he’s just glad to be back playing again after privately questioning if he’d be able to reach the form of his debut year, 2007, following his injury problems.

“I came back in and I probably did feel a bit nervous at the start of the year because you don’t know how you’re going to stand up to the hard games after being out for so long,” revealed the Simonstown man.

“You’re a bit unsure if the body will ever stay right for you.

“It’s a thing you have to manage but if you do that, there isn’t a problem at all. It’s something I’ve firmly put behind me at this stage. I haven’t had a problem with it at all this year.”


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