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Dublin v Meath: We Talk To Seamus Kenny About A Rivalry Which Has Badly Lost Its Lustre

Dublin v Meath: We Talk To Seamus Kenny About A Rivalry Which Has Badly Lost Its Lustre
By David Clarke
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As the clock hit the 70th minute mark, the scoreboard read Meath 5-9 - Dublin 0-13. Meath had marched to Croke Park and ambushed the Dubs in the 2010 Leinster semi-final. A first victory over their nearest and dearest rivals since 2001 - but even the most optimistic of Meath supporters aren't buying into the romance that a repeat of that could happen Sunday.

Seismic waves ripped through Croke Park that Sunday afternoon as Dublin's 18-game stranglehold on the province reached the end of the line, and the very reality of what happened that day is one of those moments that fill Meath supporters with optimism every time they come face to face with the royal blue of Dublin.

But consistent underwhelming performances in the years since has seen that optimism mutate into a kind of sentimental delusion. Dublin have scaled to new heights since that day, so much so that the celebrations whenever they raise the Delaney Cup are muted to the point of non existent. 2010 is their only provincial blemish in almost 11 years.

While Dublin's eyes are firmly on August, the Leinster Championship means just about everything to Meath. They haven't managed to collect a winners medal on Leinster final day since that controversial episode in 2010 - having fallen to Dublin in three of the last four deciders.

But former Meath captain Seamus Kenny believes that a Meath and Dublin game is still one of the biggest occasions for any Meath footballer. Speaking to Balls.ie, Kenny said:

"I don't think so (if there's a bigger occasion) outside obviously an All Ireland final. But I don't think there's a bigger occasion for a Meath footballer than to see a blue jersey running out and then going up against them."

Last year's abysmal collapse at the hands of Westmeath just about sums up what this Meath side have been at for the past 5 years or so. Where the likes of Cavan and Roscommon are bridging that gap on the Tyrone's and Mayo's of this world, progress in Meath has been virtually non-existent.

But the old cliche still holds sway - at least in Meath anyway - that when Meath and Dublin come face to face, the form book goes out the window. Kenny believes that the romance still exists that Meath can go to Croke Park and spring a shock.

"I think as Meath people, I wouldn't say there's an arrogance - but we always feel as though we can put it up to Dublin irrespective of what way our current performances are. I think Sunday is no different, obviously we're in so far as Dublin are reigning All Ireland Champions and National league champions - but I would give us every chance of surprising a lot of people on Sunday".

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Much has been made of the Mick O'Dowd mould of player. Since O'Dowd took charge in 2011, there has been an influx of smaller pacy players, with less of an emphasis on physicality.

Kenny thinks that this an area where Meath have an edge. Jack McCaffrey's absence from the Dublin defence, coupled with the frightening pace of Eamon Wallace and the breakthrough of Cillian O'Sullivan - it's certainly an area where the Royals will feel as though they have an advantage.

"I think one thing that this current Meath team has is pace, I think the best place to exploit pace is Croke Park because it's such a vast area and a sizable pitch. I think Meath's pace is definitely a positive for us. I do think that Dublin are going to find us hard to replace Rory O'Carroll, I don't think too many teams have tried to exploit it - In fairness he has been such a rock in there for the last year".

The Sean Boylan post-hangover period in Meath has dragged on longer than anyone had envisioned. A couple of cameo appearances in the latter stages of the championship in 2007 and 2009 gave supporters reasons to believe there was enough talent in the county that could bring about a return to the top.

Managers have come, each one brewing what was thought to be the formula to bring renewed hope to the 7-time All-Ireland champions, but each and every one of those managers has been met with the same fate. Mick O'Dowd who was ratified again this year without being put to a vote, will be fearing another season of mediocrity will see his job terminated.

A tough trip to Celtic Park awaits the loser of the Meath and Dublin semi-final, a familiar stomping ground for Meath having played out a draw in this year's league. Seamus Kenny's clear vision for Meath is simple.

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Obviously you want to be playing the best teams and they're playing the best team in the country this Sunday. Hopefully we win that and we get to a Leinster final - and see what happens there. If not, I think the team needs to get a run of games, and hopefully that can be achieved if they don't win on Sunday through the back door 

You always enter the unknown in the back door so I don't think that's on anyone's mind at moment. They'll be looking at the Dublin game and looking forward to it as I said everyone wants to play the best team's in the country and we're coming up against that on Sunday"

As a Meath fan, it's hard to stomach that the bookies are offering a -13 point handicap, as they expect that Dublin will ease past their Leinster opponents. While the romantic dimension may not be as evident within the Dublin camp, for Meath - there is always that fire deep down that ignites when they meet their old foes.

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Read more: 'A Tale Of Success, Lies, Deceit, Theft, Recovery, Rehabilitation And, Ultimately, Redemption'

 

 

 

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