herald

Monday 16 December 2019

McEntee: Dublin best we've seen in recent history

Meath boss Andy McEntee
Meath boss Andy McEntee

There is a perception that Andy McEntee has been building toward this meeting with Dublin since he took over as Meath manager in backAugust 2016.

As it happens, he says, they've only begun to deconstruct and analyse Jim Gavin's team since the Leinster final fixture was confirmed last Sunday.

But in another way, McEntee freely admits, they're not exactly starting with a blank sheet of paper.

"We're looking at Dublin all our lives," McEntee admits.

"But this Dublin team, by virtue of the fact that they're so well-known, everybody is looking at them.

"But to be brutally honest, we didn't sit down and go through them until we got to where we're at at the moment."

Speaking at Meath's pre Leinster final press conference in Dunganny last night, McEntee - who managed Ballyboden St Enda's to an All-Ireland club football title in 2016 - was asked what exactly Dublin do better than anyone else.

"How long have you got?" he replied.

"They have such strength and depth. Their levels of preparation, their level of physicality, the pace of their game, their ball skills.

"They're attempting to do something that no other county team has ever done. So that tells you where you're at.

"They're better than anything we've seen in the recent past."

Disciplined

"They have a good group of players and they work hard and they're very well organised. That might be an over-simplified version but that's the truth of it. They're very disciplined.

"I know from my time in Dublin the level of effort they all put into it. It's a good combination.

"Hard work and talent is a good combination."

"I don't think Dublin surprised anybody really on Sunday," he added. "They are what they are."

On Sunday week, Meath will be attempting to inflict a first Leinster Championship defeat since 2010, their only loss in the last 14 years.

"We know as much about them as we care to know about them," McEntee added.

"But the standard is going to be higher.

"We didn't shoot the lights out ourselves (against Laois).

"I think everybody knows it's going to have to be an awful lot better (on Sunday week) if we're going to compete."

Argument

With such a monopoly on Leinster and dwindling attendances, debate over Dublin's advantages with funding and population have again come into sharp focus.

For his part, McEntee wasn't fussed about the argument.

"It is what it is," he shrugged.

"That's something that is totally out of our control.

"And that's something we don't need to be worrying about. That's for somebody else to decide."

Meanwhile, Pádraic Harnan is expected to be fit for the Leinster fnal.

Harnan, who was Man of the Match in the Royals' quarter-final victory over Carlow, missed Meath's victory over Laois last Sunday in Croke Park with a groin injury.

McEntee revealed that Harnan "is making good progress" in his recovery.

McEntee added: "We certainly plan to have everybody to pick from.

"He trained well last night," he concluded, "so hopefully he'll come through the weekend and after that, hopefully he'll be putting his hand up."

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