LAST year it was Monaghan, this year Meath but before that it was Kildare. Paul Grimley is never too far away.
In the 2010 qualifiers his then Monaghan side fell to the Lilies and this weekend Kieran McGeeney will hope his side can do the same to Grimley’s Meath.
The Armagh man refuses to admit the Royals are in trouble. He says off the field issues won’t effect how the players perform in Croke Park on Sunday.
“The antics of the last few weeks have been well publicised and it was with deepest regret that I learned that the two boys (Liam Harnan and Barry Callaghan) were stepping down. I have the utmost respect for both of them, we got on very well and I have no doubt we will remain friends but to say Meath are in disarray is a bit of an over reaction to be honest,” insisted Grimley.
“Of course it hasn’t meant for ideal preparation but our priority now is the game on Sunday and nothing else. There’s very little you can do from the sideline when the ball is thrown in bar make five substitutes anyway so it won’t effect the team,” he added.
Allegedly the two local selectors walked away after they were not consulted on the return of 38-year-old Graham Geraghty. The Clann na Gael club man has returned to the inter county scene after three years in retirement and made a substitute appearance in Meath’s win over Galway in a recent challenge match. It is unlikely that the former Seneschalstown player will start on Sunday but Grimley isn’t ruling out an appearance from Geraghty.
“At the moment it’s too early to say whether or not Graham (Geraghty) will feature. He’s back in the panel now and it’s quite clear that he is still a fantastic athlete. He’s a favourite among supporters and from looking at him you can really see the intelligence and composure he still has as a footballer,” remarked the Armagh native.
One man that certainly won’t be featuring on Sunday is Eoin Harrington. The Wolfe Tones man was forced off in that challenge match against Galway and the injury is much more severe that first thought.
“Eoin came off against Galway and we didn’t think it was too serious at first even though he was in a lot of pain. However, an xray revealed that he has a hairline fracture in his left ankle and it looks as though he’ll be out for the rest of the year,” said the former Kildare coach.
The Royals will also be without defender Cormac McGuinness, who has withdrawn from the panel, due to a busy schedule but at least Stephen Bray seems to be making a return to form.
“Stephen (Bray) was gone for three or four months and when he came back it naturally took him a while to get back in to the swing of things but he seems to be coming back in to form now,” said Grimley.
If Meath are to make any impact on Sunday they will need to be in better form than they were during the spring months. They had a dismal National Football League campaign, came very close to the drop and Grimley is well aware of just how poor his side were in Division 2 but fully expects a lot more from the players this weekend.
“Nobody is glossing over out league performances. We are very aware we didn’t play anywhere near our potential and the supporters have a right to be angry. On Sunday those supporters can be assured that the players will give it everything they have. I can guarantee they will put in a super effort whether that will be enough or not only time will tell. Despite what people are saying moral is super within the panel and I am certain they will turn things around,” he insisted.
Grimley wasn’t in attendance in O’Moore Park when Kildare steamrolled Wicklow but watched the game on TV. He knows what to expect from the Lilies, a team that he believes are one of the best in the country.
“I wasn’t at the Wicklow game but Seamus (McEnaney) was. I recorded and watched it later on TV. I was impressed by Kildare but that’s nothing new. Kildare are among the top four or five teams in the country and have been for the last few years. They have fantastic players and a fantastic management team. The game is going to be a peach of a game. At the moment Kildare are 2-0 up after the win last year and the league game and we’ll be looking to pull one back,” he admitted.
County Board chairman Barney Allen and secretary Cyril Creavin have been appointed as interim selectors in the wake of Harnan and Callaghan’s resignation and it is unlikely new full time selectors will be appointed before the quarter final clash.
“As I said the game on Sunday is our priority and at this point it would be difficult for other selectors to come in. We will appoint new selectors as agreed but we don’t want to rush it. We want to get the right people in so we’re not pushing the panic button just yet.
“It should be about the football and I think it’s going to be a fantastic Sunday. If Arsenal were playing Chelsea and Manchester United playing Manchester City it would be billed as ‘Super Sunday’ and with the line up of teams next Sunday I think this is going to be a super Sunday,” said the Armagh man.