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25 Jan

The Joe Show: All the Small Things

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Posted by Joe Sheridan in The Joe Show | Jan 2013
The Joe Show

In his first Joe Show blog entry of the new year, Joe Sheridan looks back on the highs and lows of 2012, and looks forward to getting Meath football back on track in 2013

A Year to Forget

Looking back at it, last season would have to go down as one to forget. Obviously I was gone for the league after heading for Boston around this time, but for the team in general it was quite a bad league. We had a few poor results and lost a game or two in the last minute.

If we had won a couple of those we probably could been pushing for promotion, whereas we ended up going the other way and after Louth beat us on the last day we ended up relegated.

Relegation to Division Three is probably one of the lowest points in Meath football. It was something that we didn’t envisage happening, but we have to take responsibility for it.

Championship

The Championship ended up being a bit of an anti-climax too. After the Louth game there was a bit of hassle, and the management did a few things to try and improve the situation like bringing John Evans in as trainer. That definitely had a positive effect for when we played Wicklow in the first game and we ended up winning by five or six points. It was great after the way the league ended to get that win under our belts and build a bit of confidence for the team.

After that we played Carlow in Tullamore. It was a game we went into probably a bit lax. We went in after a good result the previous day out, but Carlow had nothing to lose and we took them for granted a small bit and we were lucky to finish up drawing. We went into the second game knowing that we were lucky to get away with it the first day and put in a pretty good performance.

To be fair to Carlow they lost a couple of players on the day but we were starting to move well. We’d players like Brian Farrell playing well, Conor Gillespie was going well around midfield, and we were starting to tick. Having taken our eye off the ball a wee bit the first time round, we knew right well it was a game we needed to go out and put in a good performance and we did.

The next game was a massive game for us against Kildare. It was a chance for us to kick our season on and to try and get to where we wanted to be. Coming into it we knew we were up against it as Kildare are a team that had been pushing into the top few positions the last couple of years. We had a great result against them, beating them by six points to leave us really buzzing.

At that stage, things were going well. Graham Reilly was kicking points for fun coming from midfield and we were starting to get a bit of confidence back after the couple of wins. We were looking forward to playing Dublin in the Leinster final. We didn’t fear them and we felt we had a bit of consistency coming in besides the blip against Carlow. We were always improving and we were starting to enjoy it.

Leinster Final

In the Leinster Final a lapse of concentration for two minutes probably lost us the game. What should have been a level match at half-time ended instead with us going in five or six points behind. The two goals knocked the stuffing out of us. Dublin went in at half-time full of confidence and with the Croke Park crowd behind them, whereas we were going in giving out to each other. It’s amazing the way two minutes like that can swing a game.

At half-time a big thing in our heads was not to get a hiding and keep some respectability on the scoreboard. A couple of lads like Peadar Byrne came on and we started to drive on and we were probably a bit unlucky in the end. Another five or ten minutes would have been interesting. We missed a couple of decent scoring opportunities where if we’d taken points instead of going for goals we probably could have at least got a draw out of the match, but Dublin probably on the day were just the better team.

That brought us to Laois then and everyone was on about the six day turnaround. We didn’t worry about it too much. We felt we were fit enough and that we were well able. I certainly wouldn’t use it as an excuse.

Unfortunately for us it was a bit of dejà vu – after letting Dublin go ten points up on us we found ourselves in the very same position against Laois. At county level it’s very hard to give a ten point lead and try and get back into the game. We went in at half-time knowing we’d let them play their own game in the first half, and to be honest we were pretty confident at half-time that we could turn it around if we took our chances and in fairness we nearly did.

In a lot of ways the second half was a carbon copy of the Dublin game, we got on top and I’d say we must have had 70 or 80 per cent possession for the last 25 minutes. Again it was a case of if only there had been another five minutes but you reap what you sow and we paid the price for our inconsistency.

It was extremely disappointing going from a Leinster Final six days before to being out of the championship after games that we handed to the other teams, but those are the margins in Intercounty football.

Looking ahead to 2013

That’s probably the one thing about us that the new management have zoned in on that we need to improve for this year – our consistency and being able to hold a performance for the whole game. That’s one of our big goals for this year as a squad to hold our level of performance throughout games and throughout the season.

If you look back over our last couple of seasons you’d have to say we haven’t been consistent and if we can get that right and get back to back performances we’ll probably do a lot better, and that has to start in the league this year.
There’s a great freshness in the panel with the new backroom team, with Micko, Trevor, Sean Kelly and Colm Brady who’s probably the best trainer in the country to be honest. They’re all Meath guys and they all know where we are and where we need to get to.

From a personnel point of view there have been a lot of changes. There are a lot of lads that have been dropped off the panel and a good few younger lads have been brought in to freshen up the team a bit so they’ve stamped their authority straight away on things that way. Lads know there are no reputations there; if you’re not performing then you’re not going to be there. That’s the way it has to be and it definitely keeps you on your toes. No lad should be on the panel for their reputations and the management have come in and made that very clear.

It all bodes well for the New Year if we can gel together and get the right plan and just slowly start taking small steps in the right direction because that’s what we have to do after last year.

The Small Things

It’s hard for me to say because every year you’d love to win the league, you’d love to win a Leinster, you’d love to win the All Ireland, but maybe we just have to rein it in a wee bit and just concentrate on the next training session, the next game. It’s hard to say that but that’s what we have to do at the minute and if we can do that and get the small things right then hopefully all the small things will add up and eventually you’ll be able to look forward and start thinking about winning championship matches.

We’ve always taken the league pretty serious but it’s a weird thing with Meath football that we’ve never really done well in the league. I think 2001 might be the last time we were in the top tier final or maybe even before that so it’s nothing new (by deborah). I don’t know what it is but it’s something we have to address and improve on because all the teams that are doing well in Division One and even in Division Two are the teams that push on and are there or there abouts in the Championship.

What we have to concentrate on is winning the games that we should be winning and get out of Division Three. Maybe our problem has been that for certain games we’re expected to be winning and maybe those thoughts have crept into our own minds as well and we’re not putting enough emphasis on the work that we have to do to make it happen. That’s really something that we have to concentrate on getting right this year.

If you’re winning a game and losing a game in the league like that you’re not going to all of a sudden change how you’re moving and thinking when Championship comes around, if you’re not doing it throughout the league that form is just going to run straight into the Championship but if we can get it right and get two wins in the first two games that will be a massive push for us to get to where we want to be at the end of the league.

I was asked what I thought about our chances of winning Division Three at 11/4, but unfortunately my tipping record has not been very good lately so this year I’m going to keep my tips to myself and just concentrate on winning games and see how far that gets us.

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