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Thursday 21 November 2019

Murphy: Royal victory would be 'vindication'

Meath’s Bryan Menton leads out the players in Croke Park for the Leinster SFC final
Meath’s Bryan Menton leads out the players in Croke Park for the Leinster SFC final

It would appear as though indisputable proof of just how deflating an experience it is to be hammered by Dublin in a Leinster final will be presented in Portlaoise on Sunday.

The circumstantial evidence is piled high.

Dublin's last eight provincial final victims have all lost their next match in the qualifiers.

Which means that no team this decade has managed to shake it off quickly enough to salvage their summer.

That the average margin of victory in those finals is just over 11 points means the vanquished have had more soul searching to do than usual.

Step forward Meath.

"You have to remember," says All-Ireland winner Ollie Murphy, "Meath aren't great at picking themselves up after these defeats.

"How many times did we go down to the likes of Fermanagh, Limerick and teams like that, thinking 'this is a good draw for us.'

"You play a middle of the road Division 3 team and all of a sudden, you're left on your arse. Sometimes you're nearly better off getting the Tyrones.

"Last year, we had Tyrone beaten and we blew it."

"Clare will fancy their chances against us. It could go either way. And if you don't play with confidence against Clare, you could end up with your tail between your legs."

In 2012, Meath lost to Dublin by three points in the Leinster final and then went down to Laois by the same margin in the qualifiers.

In '13, they were beaten by seven by Dublin and then two by Tyrone.

A year later, they incinerated by 16 points before losing by five to Armagh in Croke Park.

Now?

The gods of the draw have smiled kindly on Andy McEntee.

Rather than Mayo or Tyrone, Meath were given Sunday's match with Clare for a spot in this year's Super 8s.

On St Patrick's Day this year, Meath beat Clare by five points in Ennis in Division 2 of the League.

A year previously, they beat Colm Collins's team by 14 points in Navan.

Before that, the Royals powered to a 12-point win in Cusack Park on the last day of the 2017 League.

In summation,

But we're about to see just how gory the scar tissue of their Leinster final experience is.

"It will be a lot to do with the manager," Murphy stresses.

"He's going to have a lot to do with it.

"It will prove his worth this game. If he can get the lads around and put in a good performance and get them to the 'Super 8s' he's vindicated."

"Getting to Division is a stepping stone in the right direction.

"And there's good young footballers there as well. Young (Ethan) Devine and (Darragh) Campion. They're great players.

"And Sunday is the time to throw them in. Give them a shot. Let them have a go. They're athletic. They're modern footballers. They're middle-distance runners who can play a bit. They're not afraid to shoot and have a go.

"They'd be a great advantage. And they haven't go much game time this year. They have a bit of creativity. That's what you need."

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