In recent times Tyrone hold the upper hand on Meath

Two sides meeting in Navan on Saturday for what should be an exciting All-Ireland qualifier

Two of the most disappointed counties in this weekend’s opening round of the All-Ireland football qualifiers, Tyrone and Meath, will face each other in Navan. Both were favourites to win their opening championship encounters against Monaghan and Longford respectively.

It will be the fifth meeting of the counties, all of which have been within the past 22 years, and it may be some encouragement for the teams that the winners on each of the past occasions has gone to at least a top-four finish – allowing that the 2007 fixture was an All-Ireland quarter-final.

In 1996, Meath surprised Tyrone in the semi-finals and went on to win the All-Ireland, and 11 years later did the same when the latter were Ulster champions. The more recent matches, in 2013 and 2015, were both won narrowly by Tyrone, who reached the semi-finals in those years, eventually losing to Mayo and Kerry.

A lesser-known contest six years ago saw a fancied Tyrone minor team lose the All-Ireland quarter-final to Meath, who were then managed by Andy McEntee, currently in charge of the seniors and hoping to repeat the feat in Páirc Tailteann on Saturday. They reached that year’s final before reliving that year’s Leinster final defeat by Dublin.


Injury absence

One of Tyrone’s underage stars from 2012, Mark Bradley, is an injury absence for the weekend in an attack also weakened by the loss of free-taker Lee Brennan, who pulled a hamstring against Monaghan.

The latter hopes that the team can keep going long enough for him to return.

“Aye, but Meath are a good side. I remember we played them in 2015 in the qualifiers in Healy Park, and they were leading until the 60th minute. It’s not going to be easy, especially down there.”