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Meath captain focused on the next game

Story by Conall Collier

Thursday, 9th August, 2018 5:00pm

Meath captain focused on the next game

Matthew Costello in action for Meath against Kildare in the Leinster MFC final. PHOTO: JOHN QUIRKE

It's easy to forget that Meath minor football captain Matthew Costello is only 17 and that he has two Leinster medals.

Questions posed about next Saturday's All-Ireland MFC semi-final against Galway are answered honestly and quickly, but with a maturity that belies his age.

His speech after he raised the Leinster MFC Fr Larry Murphy Cup at O'Connor Park, Tullamore last month was enthusiastic for Meath's success, but was also respectful to the opposition and highlighted his ability as a solid individual worthy of the captain's armband.

Matthew is the son of former Tipperary inter-county footballer Paul and Mayo woman Sheila.

When it was put to him that there are similarities between the current Meath minor team and some of Sean Boylan's great teams from the 1980s and 1990s in terms of character and determination the response was swift and succinct.

"We had a tough game against Derry and we got through, it was the same in Navan against Dublin and Offaly, it's the Meath fighting spirit, Sean Boylan's teams had it, but they won All-Ireland titles, it's time for Meath football to stand up again and now it's our responsibility, we are responsible for the future of Meath football so it's up to us to go and do it and get to the final by winning next Saturday," he commented.

"We were on the ropes against Derry midway through the second-half, but as this team always does, we fought back, we got ourselves back into the game.

"I was always confident that we would get a break, get the chance we needed, someone to win the ball in the half-forward line, we did that and got back into the game," he added as the focus turned to his background.

"My dad (Paul) played for Tipperary so he has always helped me, has advised me, it's great, whether I have a good game or maybe a bad game, he is always there to offer some advice and that's great to have," he suggested.

"My mam Sheila is from Mayo, a place near Swinford, so that's probably an extra incentive that we should beat Galway, mam would have been a regular at Croke Park supporting Mayo for the last few years.

"Now she has to go there and support Meath, that's probably a little twist in the plot, but seeing as Mayo won't be there this year I wanted to make sure she had a chance to get to Croke Park," he quipped.

Looking ahead to Saturday's game and how Meath got there, Costello has no illusions about the task facing the Royal County.

"I suppose there is some pressure, but we are just going to go into this like every other game, we won't concentrate too much on the fact that it's in Croke Park," he remarked.

“That's where we all want to play and we are getting a chance now in an All-Ireland semi-final, our target is to beat Galway and get back to Croke Park on All-Ireland final day.

"The feeling in the panel is that we are good enough to beat any team if we play to our best, but we have to give Galway the respect they deserve.

"They are the Connacht champions and they are unbeaten in championship football this year, they will be tough opposition and we have to approach the game with the correct mindset," he added.

Costello is one of three players, the others are Cian McBride from St Ultan's and Conor Harford for Ardcath club St Vincent's, who featured for Meath's successful Leinster u-17 FC-winning team last year.

The Dunshaughlin player scored 2-3 in that final against Dublin in Drogheda and feels that the experience of that campaign will be valuable next Saturday.

"Last year I played with the Meath u-17s and it was a great experience, winning that Leinster title, that gave me the hunger for more, to win another Leinster and go on from that," he said.

"Myself, Cian (McBride) and Conor (Harford) were involved last year and have that bit of extra experience, maybe that helped, but the team did the job the last day against Derry and we have to do the same again this weekend.

"You never know how we will get on in this game, we will give it our all, we will treat it as if it might be our only time playing in Croke Park, but we want to get back there again this year, don't forget that.

"This is such a big day, the lads will be tuned in from the start for 60 minutes, there is great spirit in the squad, the lads are buzzing and looking forward to next Saturday," he concluded

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