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Thursday 20 June 2019

Royals on the rise once more

Leinster SFC: Meath v Laois (Croke Park, Tomorrow, 2.0)

Donal Keoghan is Meath’s best defender and most creative ball-carrier
Donal Keoghan is Meath’s best defender and most creative ball-carrier

He never went on record with it.

But the unanimous presumption about Meath is that Andy McEntee set three goals for his team this year: promotion from Division 2, a Leinster final appearance and a spot among this year's Super 8s.

One down, two to go.

If Meath are still very much on track to tick the second item off that wish list tomorrow, their progress hasn't always been smooth.

In a season of inarguable progress, they have been winded a few times.

Donegal's last-minute goal in Ballybofey.

Meath's second-half mauling by the same opposition in Croke Park in the Division 2 final.

Bogged

Their meek performance against Offaly in Navan on the day Meath's summer began.

Yes it is true they struggled early on against Carlow, but unlike the Offaly game, they never got bogged down by a poor start and coolly pulled a densely populated defence apart for the pair of goals that killed the game.

On both occasions, Donal Keogan was the key man in the move, breaking tackles, drawing covering defenders in, and timing his passes to near perfection.

It is not under-estimating Keogan's quality to suggest he is both Meath's best defender and their most creative ball-carrier.

Bryan Menton had a strong game also and seems more familiar with the responsibilities of inter-county midfield play than before.

Laois, meanwhile, are also making ground under John Sugrue and a second Leinster final appearance in succession would confirm that upward migration.

Meath have had issues at full-back this year - particularly with Michael Murphy in the Division 2 final - and Donie Kingston, if fit, could cause serious problems in that area.

Laois also have a hugely experienced spine and in Sugrue, one of the brightest managers in the game just now.

It's bound to be tight but Meath have the better options in reserve.

ODDS: Meath 1/2, Draw 15/2, Laois 9/4

VERDICT: Meath

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