THE post-match headlines were dominated by the controversial climax to yesterday’s Leinster final but away from the furore surrounding Joe Sheridan’s goal, the Meath camp admitted that they had been fortunate to claim the title after a patchy performance over the 70 minutes. Meath were anointed as provincial champions after blitzing Dublin for five goals in the Leinster semi-final yet they struggled to match those expectations here.
“In terms of the way the game was won we are pleased to be Leinster champions but there are lots of things that we wouldn’t be happy with in our performance”, conceded Meath manager Eamonn O’Brien. “If you take Louth’s second-half performance maybe they deserved a lot more out of that game but that is football.
“Football and sport is a cruel game at times and we have been on the receiving end of cruel things over the last eight or nine years. These players have suffered a lot of disappointments. I don’t begrudge them the victory here today. The game lasts for 70 minutes and you have to keep going until the end and when there is only a point in it the game is always there for the taking.”
Captain Nigel Crawford agreed that there was serious shortcomings in Meath’s display but did point to the sheer character displayed by the team to grind out the result.
“I thought we did okay in the first-half, we went in three points up and I thought probably we were good for that even though they missed one or two goal chances. In the second-half we didn’t get going at all. But I think we showed good character when a lot of teams would have dropped their heads. We fought our way back into it, got back to within a point and then worked the chance there at the very end.”
Crawford felt that Meath may have got caught up in the hype which escalated after the Dublin victory.
“My own opinion of the Dublin game is that we didn’t play all that well. The goals maybe glossed over a few faults in our performance. Maybe we just got caught up with having beaten Dublin and being favourites for the final. It just wasn’t a very good performance today. We’d be well beaten by whoever we end up playing if we play like that again. It just wasn’t good enough.”
Crawford had been hampered with a back injury in recent months but revealed that he came through the first match in his comeback unscathed. Nine years after his last provincial senior football medal, he intends to savour this success after a series of barren seasons.
“The back was okay. I was very tired and it was a tough match to go back into. But I’m just happy to get through the game. I’m just thankful for how the game turned out. It’s nine years since we won. I was 19 when we won the first Leinster and then 21 when we won the second one in 2001. I probably thought it was going to happen every few years. You kind of take success for granted so after waiting nine years so it’s very nice to win again. But there’s a lot of improvement to be done or else we’ll be exiting at the quarter-finals.”
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