Meath minor manager Andy McEntee.
Meath minor manager Andy McEntee.
Meath's appearance in Sunday's All-Ireland MFC semi-final against Mayo at Croke Park, 1.30, has already generated a debate at Co Board level with some club delegates pleading with officials for postponements at last week's meeting in Áras Táilteann.
Against that background, minor manager Andy McEntee and the Fé 18 officials may be wondering what they have to do to placate the club players who were left idle at the weekend as a result of a blanket postponement of championship action.
Would it have been more acceptable to those players if Meath had lost to Tyrone in the All-Ireland MFC quarter-final a fortnight ago?
How will the clubs react if McEntee and his selectors Breen O'Grady, PJ Cudden, Padraig Coyle and Kevin Foley manage to engineer another victory and secure a precious All-Ireland MFC final ticket for Sunday 23rd September against either Dublin or Kerry?
Safe to suggest, perhaps, that many clubs will not be too concerned about the minor result next Sunday?
Perhaps also, last week's scenario of a late postponement could have been avoided with a swift intervention by the officers of the Co Board following the victory in Newry on Sunday 5th August. Rescheduling the next round of the club championships to Saturday and Sunday 1st and 2nd September may have been an alternative?
And the chances are that Meath will advance to the All-Ireland MFC decider, so the fixture problems will not go away.
Some innovative fixture planning will be required.
This Meath minor team has shown gradual improvement since the opening round Leinster MFL 3-11 to 0-6 victory against Louth at Darver on Friday 2nd March.
Meath followed that with wins over Wexford, Carlow and Longford before losing a Páirc Táilteann final to a strong Dublin team by four points (1-9 to 2-10).
Twelve of the players that started that game against Louth last March featured in the All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Tyrone.
Gone from the panel is Eamonn Wallace, who opted to concentrate on athletics, while Ruairi O Coileain missed the game in Newry due to injury.
Goalkeeper Jack Hannigan is another player on the 'doubtful' list, but McEntee is in the position where he has cover for almost all eventualities.
Both Wallace and Hannigan are immensely talented players, but such is the strength of the panel, their absence will not be a major factor.
That has a two-pronged positive for both the manager and for Meath football.
The competition for places is intense and guarantees a complete lack of complacency amongst the players.
It also augurs well for the future direction of Meath football, provided a structure is in place to harness the talent that is beginning to emerge at under-age level.
That will not be easy, but it is a good problem that the chiefs at the top table have to grapple with.
Ahead of Sunday's showdown, Meath can focus on a Mayo team that also lost a provincial decider (0-8 to 0-10 against Roscommon), but turned on the style in their quarter-final victory against the then reigning champions, Tipperary, to win by 0-19 to 1-8.
Mayo scored 13 points from play against Tipperary which suggests that the Meath rearguard is in for a torrid afternoon although seven points came from further out the field, midfielder Adam Gallagher managed four and half-backs Patrick Durcan (two) and Cian Burke also contributed.
That Meath possess the ability to win the game is not in question, the players showed tremendous resolve to beat Tyrone after falling behind in the final minute to a late point.
They conjured up a goal and then survived a hectic period of added time during which they probably learned some valuable lessons about how to run down the clock.
Victory will not be achieved by one or two players performing well, this will require a collective effort and based on the evidence of five championship games, plus a similar number in the league, this Meath team has improved in each outing.
They can continue in that vein next Sunday and provide the local fixture planners with some more headaches.
It could be that Meath football is on the verge of a new era, that Meath is about to emerge from the doldrums and, more recently, the chaos that has ensued for the past decade or so.
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