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Return of Royals' belief is evans sent: Beggy

SEAN BOYLAN spoke earlier this week about Meath football possessing a certain madness -- a "mad belief" that victory is never beyond them.

One of Boylan's old band of mad Meath believers, David Beggy, has delivered another twist on the same theme ... namely there is a certain way that Meath teams play, a style that is buried deep within their DNA, and you shouldn't try to change it.

Now the good news for the Royals reborn: Beggy believes the current team has reverted to old-style Meath football in the wake of this year's watershed league campaign and this partly explains why the county is back in a Leinster SFC final against familiar Sky Blue foes this Sunday.

The Meath man who broke Dublin hearts in an epic climax to the 1991 four-game saga believes John Evans -- the former Tipp manager installed as Meath coach last April -- has been the catalyst behind this return to basics.

But he also acknowledges the role of manager Seamus 'Banty' McEnaney in recognising that a new approach was needed after their relegation to Division Three and the failed county board heave that followed.

"It's been very hard on the players because they've kept themselves tight, they're doing everything they've been asked to do," says Beggy. "There's been a lot of outside pressure put on them for various different reasons, but they've shown great resilience.

"I think they gave themselves over to John and in fairness to Banty, he has gone through a really hard time but was willing to bring somebody in to try and reorganise the team.

"We are playing a very different style of football than we were even four months ago, and I think John Evans has had an awful lot to do with that. I think he has been the catalyst, but I think the players themselves have never given up hope, which is a marvellous thing."

The 'new' style is actually a throwback to the way Beggy and Co, plus the later nineties generation too, used to play under Boylan.

"It feels like Meath football, which is the first time in quite a while that's there," he explains.

"You grow up playing a certain type of football and when you reach the age of 18, 19, 20, it's nearly next to impossible to change what's in your DNA.

"Maybe in the last couple of years we were trying to change our style of football. Our football is quite direct, it's quite robust, and it looks like we are going back to that at the moment. Whether we can sustain that, I don't know."

That final sentence hints at an understandable caution shared by most Meath supporters. It's partly because the team must prove that semi-final ambush of Kildare wasn't a flash in the pan, and partly because All-Ireland champions Dublin constitute another step-up.

"There is optimism of being capable of performing to a certain level now," Beggy reflects.

"The Kildare/Meath game was a little bit deceiving because there was a lot of things happened in the Kildare camp that in hindsight showed it was going to affect them a lot.

"We had a complete performance; theirs was patchy. Their midfield was all over the place really, and they weren't as cohesive as they usually are -- their legs looked a bit heavy -- so a lot of things went wrong for them.

"Our performance was a solid, 15/18-man performance and everybody played their part. It was as good a performance as Meath have done for a number of years.

"Saying that, they are going in against a Dublin team with huge experience, with All-Irelands on their backs; they know how to break through tough games which was their weakness for the last number of years."

Consequently, Beggy suggests Meath must find another 20pc on their "complete" semi-final performance "to have a chance". And that may require an even greater contribution from the Royal rookies who have transformed results - and the mood - this summer.

"The funny thing about these guys is they didn't win under-21s or minors," Beggy points out. "But looking at them playing, they don't have an ounce of fear in them whatsoever. And to me that nearly is the key for next Sunday - not to be afraid of Croke Park or afraid of Dublin or afraid of their reputation.

"Young (Alan) Forde just seems to go at will. (Damien) Carroll seems to bounce off everybody - you think he's going to get killed, he comes out of a group of lads and you wonder how he's after doing that.

"They have that go about them and that freedom and, as I often wonder, hopefully they don't get coached out of something like that.

"Let them do what they can do and work around them, rather than trying to coach them into being the perfect footballers."

Some 21 years after etching his name into Dublin/Meath folklore with the final point of that rollercoaster third replay, Beggy is expecting another classic of the Royal/Sky Blue genre. In other words a tight affair, far removed from Dublin's 10-point victory in 1995 or Meath's five-goal bonanza in 2010.

"If everything goes according to tradition, it's going to be a two-point match either way," he predicts.

"There have been very little (hammerings) in the last couple of years - one two years ago and a 10-point drubbing in '95. And outside those two games, it's nearly been a draw since '86.

"Regardless of who you put out there, it's Meath and Dublin, it's the classic Leinster final.

"I don't think there's anything going to surprise either team, they'll go hell for leather and the team with the biggest spirit will win out on the day - not necessarily the most talented team, but the team with the biggest will to win."