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Friday 2 December 2016

Tobin looks to Louth test, not back on Westie wake

Meath defender Donnacha Tobin. Picture Credit: Sportsfile
Meath defender Donnacha Tobin. Picture Credit: Sportsfile

Meath can learn from last summer's Croke Park calamity against Westmeath - but they can't afford to dwell on it.

That's the firm belief of Donnacha Tobin, who prefers to embrace the positive vibes of a new championship (starting with Sunday's Leinster SFC date against Louth) rather than look back in anger.

He was corner-back on the team that led by nine points with barely 20 minutes of last year's Leinster semi-final remaining, only for the wheels to come off in spectacular fashion. By the time Westmeath surged ahead en route to a first ever SFC victory over their nemesis, Tobin had departed the frazzled fray following a black card.

"The big thing for us now is that it's happened, you can't dwell on that. That's last year. The whole of last year is gone, 2015 is gone," he reiterates.

FOCUSED

"All we can do is use 2015 to ensure we have a better 2016 and that's what we're focussed on for this year.

"Obviously there's disappointment and hurt after performances like that. You just have to use that as fuel and there's learning in it too. It's a matter of taking the learning out of it and making sure you're stronger then."

Life aboard the Royal roller-coaster has reaffirmed that football is, as Tobin puts it, "an extremely emotional sport. One minute you're on top of the world, the next minute you're very low. That's the nature of the game.

"If you spent your whole time down in the dumps over performances and replaying it and replaying it, you'll never get any better. You'll probably regress.

"It's literally a case that you have to take a mature approach to it, look at it and say 'What went wrong? Why did we lose the game?' And, as I say, 2015 is done."

Tobin wasn't too downcast at Meath's league penchant for repeating that same boom-to-bust habit against Cavan and Galway.

"The average age of the team is very young. We're going through a process of finding our way of playing football," he explains.

"We also played halves of breathtaking football in the league. The coin has two sides.

"We lost a few experienced players from last year. It's just a matter of us getting comfortable in our own skin as well and turning that 35, 40 minutes of brilliant football into 70 minutes of a solid performance."

These league oscillations, he argues, leave Meath better placed to deal with Louth if they get on a roll this Sunday in Parnell Park (3.30).

He cites the Galway game, where they led by nine points at half-time only to fall three adrift near the end. "We came back to draw ... they were hanging on for dear life at the end," he points out.

While there has been much talk about the venue choice for Sunday's derby duel, Tobin isn't "annoyed where we play, to be honest.

"It's not necessarily a bad thing," he adds. "Parnell Park will be absolutely packed to the rafters. The atmosphere will be ... like, you can't beat playing in a stadium that's 100 per cent full."

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