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New Meath leaders must 'drive it on'

STEPHEN BRAY believes the time has come for Meath's new crew of leaders in their mid-20s to drive Mick O'Dowd's team onto the next level, writes Frank Roche.

"Those guys who are 24-25 are the leaders of this team. Donal Keogan, Graham Reilly, Bryan Menton, just to name a few - and Paddy O'Rourke as well," declares Meath's 33-year-old elder statesman.

"They've had plenty of championship experience now at this stage, and really it's up to them to drive this on and question where is this going, what are they doing this for? They're at an age where you do have to question that. Like, you've been here three or four years at this stage and you really have to drive it on."

After a decade where Meath underage structures and player development fell behind, Bray believes there are now "plenty of lads coming through. You just need to have the right attitude and that kind of madness - that selfishness, that real drive."

Yet he remains cautious about Sunday's SFC opener. "I'm too experienced at this stage to take anyone lightly. Wicklow will present a huge challenge," he maintains.

"If we're to get to the level that Dublin are at, and have ambitions to win Leinster finals, you don't look past anyone ... but at the same time you go 'We have to have our best performance here', and each day bring it up a notch. So the Wicklow game is a step."