herald

Sunday 17 November 2019

Royals on brink of big time

Andy McEntee
Andy McEntee

Having spent more than a decade in the badlands of Division 2 (or worse) Meath are so close now that they can smell it.

Logic dictates that Allianz League top-flight elevation will be officially confirmed on Sunday - even if they were to lose at home to fellow promotion-chasing Fermanagh.

Here, perhaps, are the two key stats to ponder: (1) Meath are guaranteed promotion unless they lose by ten points or more; (2) Sunday's opponents have totalled 2-52 in their six NFL outings, averaging at 9.66 points per game.

Fermanagh are famously frugal but that comes at a cost: under Rory Gallagher's grimly pragmatic guidance, they are not built to wreak havoc.

And maybe they won't have to: a low-scoring victory in Navan, coupled with Kildare either drawing or winning in Donegal, would be enough to safeguard Fermanagh's passage to Division 1.

Destiny

Still, unlike their rivals, Meath are in total control of their own destiny. They might even pave a promotion path for Kildare, who would leapfrog Donegal and Fermanagh if they win in Ballyshannon while Meath topple Fermanagh.

A sign of Meath's consistency is that their only defeat - in Donegal - came after leading by four near the hour.

Cue a gift-wrapped goal from which they never recovered. "We switched off," Andy McEntee lamented at the time. "It's not terminal but it's a serious enough wound."

Four wins on the spin have healed the damage. Whatever about their ability to survive among the elite, or even superstitious fears about Fermanagh's bogey-team status, Meath can have no excuses for not sealing the deal.

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