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Sat 29-Aug-2009 23:00
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Kerry v Meath preview
There is a famous saying from the Star Trek TV series “These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five year mission…to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
2009 has been a bit like that for the Kerry footballers. The mission: to beat a Tyrone team at the peak of their powers en-route to All Ireland success. Or better still, in an All Ireland final. After an education in modern defensive methods from Tyrone in 2003, the mission began under Jack O’Connor in 2004. His return this year was for one reason and one reason only: to finish the job he started five years ago. It would be foolhardy to suggest that last Sunday’s result has lessened the hunger for All Ireland success, but there’s no denying a certain element of disappointment. Teams are judged on their All Ireland medals in Kerry, but there comes a point when retribution has to be sought. It’s doubtful if the Tyrone of 2010 into the future will be considered as close to the peak of its powers as it was from 2003 to 2009. If Kerry do beat them in 2010, the question mark will always hang over the victory ala the defeat of a waning Armagh in 2006.
But 2010 is 2010, and this is the present. Kerry have a potential banana skin awaiting them on Sunday. Shane O’Rourke was instrumental in Meath’s qualifier run in 2007 and his return from a succession of injuries strengthens their hand. David Gallagher seems certain to be parachuted into the team from the relative obscurity of 12 months ago. Very knew who David Gallagher was then, but having been present in Australia for the International Rules series the recurring question in my mind was ‘Why hasn’t this man more caps for his county in Gaelic Football?’ The answer may lie in a lack of interest in his part, or perhaps the politics of Meath GAA. However his return strengthens Meath considerably and he could well be their Guardian Angel come Sunday. That said Mickey McQuillan was recalled from obscurity against Dublin in 1994 after Donal Smyth had been showing patchy form. McQuillan mishandled a long range free from Charlie Redmond, and the ball slipped from his grasp into the net.
On paper, Kerry possess the strengths. There are major question marks surrounding the Meath defence. How will they cope with the running game of Declan O’Sullivan? Will Joe Sheridan be allowed to pull the strings by Michael McCarthy? Kerry have the know how and the proven track record of winning games at this time of year in Croke Park. Meath will be hoping to come good on the day and play above themselves, whereas Kerry will expect to win within themselves. Championship football being championship football means that nothing can be ruled out.
Meath have traditionally had the capacity to throw out the unexpected. A team like Kerry can hit an off day and with something like 70% of the possession can kick a multitude of wides and lose the game. It doesn’t mean that Meath are the better team, but it does mean that in such a game Meath would have achieved a result. That’s an off chance though and based on 2009 form, this result in theory should be a formality. Dublin were comfortable victors over Meath and were then demolished by Kerry. Meath are a team operating from a level greater than the sum of their parts, but have been achieving results. There is also a consciousness in Meath that they didn’t do themselves justice at this stage two years ago. Kerry will scrape through.
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