Meath on the up but Dublin clear favourites
With the playing riches available to manager Dessie Farrell, it would be surprise if his side don’t prevail
Dublin’s Cormac Costello lined out for the senior team against Mayo on Saturday at Croke Park. photograph: Inpho
After all of the squabbling over the venue for the final, Dublin and Meath make their way to Portlaoise for this year’s under-21 provincial football final. The counties have been developing a rivalry across the grades in the past couple of years and tonight is further evidence that Meath are emerging as their neighbours’ main competitors.
Dublin though are heavy favourites for this. It has been observed that they are like a team on a mission, which given the harrowing defeat in last year’s championship is unsurprising. Meath have done well to get to this stage and won’t be the ones under pressure.
The playing riches at Dessie Farrell’s disposal is daunting for any opponents and a number of the players are familiar with Meath from the 2012 All-Ireland minor winning campaign when they played twice but the scars of losing to Longford last season are a reminder not to buy to deeply into the hype.
It was a sign of the Dublin seniors’ anxiety that Cormac Costello and Jack McCaffrey got pressed into service last Saturday for the seniors but having them plus Paul Mannion – who like McCaffrey started last year’s senior final and whose two early goals killed off Longford in last month’s semi-final – available is a mark of the quality at Dublin’s disposal and helps compensate for the injury to Ciarán Kilkenny.
Meath are also without a prominent senior, as Eamon Wallace fell prey to the same cruciate curse as Kilkenny. They have picked up momentum during the campaign and their full-forward line of Seamus Mattimoe, Bryan McMahon and Joey Wallace contributed 1-10 from play as they overcame the Offaly side that eliminated champions Kildare.
It will still take a major surprise though to derail Dublin.
MEATH: A Colgan; S Carty, C McGill, D McQuillan; B Power, S Melia, S McEntee; C Sheridan, A Flanagan; N Shortall, B O’Brien, P Harnan; S Mattimoe, B McMahon, J Wallace.