Saturday 22 October 2016

Meath star Graham Reilly: 'We're miles off the Dubs'

Royals' leaky defensive display a cause for concern ahead of their Leinster semi-final with Westmeath

Graham Reilly
Graham Reilly

DUBLIN weren't in Navan on Sunday and their only engagement with Meath on Sunday week will be the two teams' appearance on the same Leinster semi-final double bill but they were wholly prominent in all the post match confabs evaluating the home team's performance.

"On today, we're miles off them," asserted Meath's wing-f0rward, Graham Reilly, the owner of 1-4 by the final whistle.

You couldn't really accuse him of false modesty either.

"Our passing wasn't crisp enough, our work rate wasn't good enough," he continued.

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"I thought our tempo was okay, we were trying to do the right things but we've got to get ball to hand.

"Defensively, we've got to set up better. They were running through the middle of us.

"If Dublin run through the middle of us - if we do manage to get to a Leinster final - we're going to get kicked out of Croke Park again."

In one sense though, Sunday had an idyllic sort of outcome for Meath, even if the process was, at times, pretty hairy.

They beat Wicklow - eventually - but did so with no real authority, thus almost herding the post-match talk towards that familiar refrain of quite how far shy of Dublin's perennial provincial-winning standard Mick O'Dowd's team currently languish.

Indeed, so ropey was Meath's defending at times and such purchase did Wicklow have with a direct and basic attacking routine, some even entertained the theory that Westmeath - who have never beaten their neighbours in a Championship match - could do so in Croke Park in two week's time.

"I'm not sure how tough the games have been on Westmeath," Reilly surmised.

"But we've got two weeks to prepare for them. Starting Tuesday night our intensity has got to go through the roof.

"And it will. Mick will make sure it does.


"A lot of the senior players like myself need to step up and to make sure that the intensity in training is at its max."

On Sunday, O'Dowd was able to field a defence bearing four debutants - three of whom were substituted by the end - and get away with it.

They, in turn, played behind a midfield pairing with one Championship appearance between them.

The Meath manager pointed out that many of those who were missing were load-bearing, powerful, components of his regular defence and thus Conor McGraynor's physical attributes were much more pronounced.

"A lot of it was down to our own errors," Reilly deduced.

"We can't be giving away two soft penalties at this level. We seemed to struggle a bit with the high ball going in and we were a little bit slow to the ball at times.

"It was our first Championship game I suppose and there were six lads making their first start and we were missing a lot of lads but we can't really use that as an excuse."

"It was difficult, I mean the heat out there...and first Championship game, the tempo was quite good.

"But I keep emphasising that we need to improve if we're going to challenge the top teams in the country, we need to improve."

"I suppose like anything, first Championship game, the tempo is something that you haven't played all year, the first 10 or 15 minutes you're really panting.

"I think going forward that we have to be more clinical up front.

"We've got to sort ourselves out at the back big time," Reilly concluded.

"We can't concede that much against Westmeath or Westmeath will kick more."

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