Mick O'Dowd: We lacked the maturity to kill tie off as a contest
MICK O'Dowd isn't the sort of manager who gives much away but it was even more difficult to fully gauge his mood in Croke Park yesterday.
On the one hand, he watched as his team squandered a ten-point lead to Westmeath.
Contained therein were an obliteration of his midfield and a couple of late missed goal chances which, had the Meath players in question elected to take easy points, would probably have salvaged a tight win.
So naturally, there was frustration and maybe some anger at his own team.
"That's probably the most frustrating thing," he accepted. You expect a team to come back at you and to come strong at you and when you counter, you need to be able to finish it.
"When you are one up, it was the time to tap it over the bar and go two up. We didn't do that.
"We were a point down and we had a chance to tap it over the bar and equalise and reset for the kick-out and we didn't do that."
The other side of his post-match missive was a defence of those same players.
Not for their failings yesterday, but on a more general theme.
"I think it's actually incredible criticism that has been directed at a young, developing Meath team," he said.
"We're not saying we're in the top six, we're not.
"But obviously the last couple of years we've been reasonably consistent in terms of reaching provincial finals.
"We've an average age of 23," O'Dowd pointed out.
"We're developing a new team and I've said it before, I still think when we were nine or 10 points up, if you had more maturity in the team I think we would have killed that game."
"I'm not a negative person anyway," he concluded, sounding a positive note, "so I would think there is more to come from this Meath team in the years ahead."