Meath hope to build on the road
Royal boss targets better record out of Páirc Tailteann
IT'S been an eventful first month in the Royal office for Seamus McEnaney but he has, at least, had time to identify a couple of short-term goals for his new recruits.
An injury-time UCD goal in Navan in the O'Byrne Cup meant his first competitive match ended in defeat and subsequently sending his team into the Shield wherein they faced teams on both ends of the footballing spectrum, Kilkenny and Dublin - a match which went to extra-time.
Through it all, he has tested some 60 players, trimmed and pruned his squad into championship shape and now, has identified improving Meath's dire away day record in the league as his immediate priority - starting with Saturday's trip to Portlaoise.
Describing his new charges win/loss ratio on the road as "dismal", the Monaghan native explained at yesterday's launch of this year's Allianz League that rectifying - rather than reflecting on - their poor return outside Páirc Tailteann was his immediate priority.
"Meath's record on the road in the last few years has been dismal, to say the least," he stated.
"Listen, we can't do anything about what has happened yesterday. We only can look after tomorrow. As I said, we're preparing as best we can for Saturday night's game. It's going to be very tight and as long as you come out the right side of that you'd be happy enough."
The Royals face four away days in their seven game programme, starting with the clash with neighbours Laois this Saturday and must also travel to Casement Park, Newbridge and Celtic Park over the spring to take on Antrim, Kildare and Derry respectively.
Banty described their programme of fixtures as "the most difficult Division 2 in years" but added that pushing for one of the two promotion places was their medium-term goal.
"It's always an incentive to push your team to Division One," he noted. "As I said, it's going to be very difficult, you have four Ulster teams, three Leinster and one Connacht. You actually have seven Ulster managers in that eight group.
"It is very competitive. It's a very competitive Allianz football league, everyone would agree that around the table.
"The games are going to be very tight. They're going to be on a see-saw, a point or two in most matches and you just hope you come out the right side of that.
"I think for any team in Ireland, it's been proven over the last 10 years that the best place to play your football is in Division 1. There's no doubt about that, but this Allianz league Division 2 football league is the most competitive I have seen in 20 years.
"Some of the top teams in the country are in it. It's very, very competition. But listen, the only game that matters for Meath now is next Saturday night and Laois, in Portlaoise.
"Our record on the road has been dismal in the last couple of years. It's a challenge on its own, our away record, but we wouldn't be looking beyond Justin McNulty's Laois on Saturday night," McEnaney added. "That's going to be a very tough start.