Mick O’Dowd will be hoping for third time lucky when he takes his Meath side to Newbridge to tackle defending Kildare in the O’Byrne Cup final.
Since taking over the reins as manager O’Dowd has guided Meath to the NFL Div 3 final and the Leinster SFC, but enjoyed no luck in either. Hopefully next Sunday will be different.
However, O’Dowd isn’t looking at the game as an all-important final. He is seeing it as an opportunity to continue preparations for Meath’s NFL Div 2 opener with Galway in Pairc Tailteann on Sunday 2nd February.
“It is great to have a fifth game in the O’Byrne Cup and with each game the levels have risen, but Kildare will be an even bigger step up than any side we have played yet, that will be perfect preparation for the league game against Galway,” O’Dowd told the Meath Chronicle.
“Winning silverware would be an added bonus, so we will travel to Newbridge ready to win the game.
“We weren’t pinned to our collar in the O’Byrne Cup yet and you do like to have a couple of those games, but we have used 29 players and got great experience into them. We have blended different teams and that has been pleasing.
“What is ideal when it comes to playing games or having a break? Last year we went up to Clones to play Monaghan after a couple of weeks break and look how that went, the previous week to that they had played in the McKenna Cup final, so there are scenarios where teams have won the O’Byrne Cup and not played well the following Sunday.
“The way we are picking our teams isn’t putting too much strain on players, we are blending teams, measuring the time they are on the pitch.
“If we weren’t playing Kildare on Sunday then we would be playing an A v B match in Pairc Tailteann and they can be just as intense, which is better? Probably a good competitive game against Kildare, so long as we have no injuries.
“I’d be hopeful that Eamon Wallace will play some part on Sunday, but I’m not too sure about risking Kevin Reilly at this point in time. He picked up a knock against Cavan in the last game of 2013, hopefully he’ll be perfect for the Galway game and if he is any way right at all he could see some action against Kildare,” concluded O’Dowd.