Meath? They can’t lace Dublin’s boots


A year ago it was easy to walk into the Temple, a bar on Temple Street as opposed to a bar in Temple Bar, with a Meath shirt on your back on the day of the Leinster football final.

It was even acceptable to walk in there afterwards with head held high and take the slagging from the Dublin fans celebrating a third Leinster title in a row.

Meath had, after all, given a good account of themselves for about 55 minutes of the 2013 Leinster final and looked like a team on the way up.

They had rattled Jim Gavin’s team with a couple of early goals, and even the true Blues acknowledged that they were a team on the way back.

Last Sunday, I was due to return to the same Temple Bar after the 2014 provincial final, and that was the plan up to about 2:40 that afternoon when the inept Armagh referee by the name of Padraig Hughes finally remembered what his whistle was for and blew for halftime in the latest Dublin-Meath match.

By then, the ghost had already been given up and I knew the game was up for this Meath team and the few pints with my old mate Roy Curtis and some other Dublin diehards in the Temple.

With Meath already on the rack and 1-12 to 0-6 down at the break, there was just no way I could even consider the verbal mauling that awaited on Temple Street.

Instead I took refuge in the Paddy Power box in the corporate area of Croker, watched the second half and the game go beyond Meath from behind my fingers and chewed on a few prawn sandwiches so beloved of one Roy Keane.

Corporate hospitality was far more preferable to the corporate hostility that awaited any Meath fan in a Dublin pub and, to be fair, we deserved nothing else.

Dublin were brilliant on Sunday, untouchable not just in this game but for the summer to come, and the Meath wounds didn’t need salt rubbed into them.

Nor did their hard suffering fans deserve the meal that was made of the Mickey Burke-Eoghan O’Gara biting incident when Burke claimed that O’Gara bit his finger in the melee that took 63 minutes to break out.

By then Meath’s goose was well and truly cooked, and picking a fight with any Dublin player was a waste of time, never mind sticking your finger in his mouth and then crying wolf when it came into contact with his teeth.

Yes, Meath were hard done by in the not so distant past but they never cried wolf, so it was a bit of an insult to make such a meal of this incident afterwards.

It also attempted to deflect from two realities on the day.

Firstly, Dublin are the top team in the country right now and will be for many years to come.

They have a conveyor belt of talent on the way -- their minors were also excellent in their final win over Kildare hours earlier -- and they have real strength in their squad.

Secondly, and in contrast, Meath don’t have any bite right now if you will excuse the pun. They were physically inferior all over the park on Sunday and they couldn’t even start the row, never mind finish it.

They will struggle to beat Armagh in the qualifiers on Saturday, August 2, and they will struggle to win Leinster again for many years. Fact.

So it will probably be some time before I can show my face – and that green and blue polo shirt – in The Temple Bar again.

I may also have to stay out of certain pubs in Dunshaughlin as well. After a quick pit-stop for food in the Sibin on Sunday evening, a local kid who lives in our village approached me in the car park as we prepared for home.

“Hard luck, you might beat Dublin in 20 years time,” he said. Like so many living out our way now, he was wearing a blue shirt and rubbing salt in that wound. And he was laughing.

It wasn’t even safe on home soil on Sunday night and it won’t be for many years to come. That’s how bad Meath were. And it still hurts.

(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)

Everyone’s a Rory Winner

There was an irony to Rory McIlroy’s win at Hoylake on Sunday that even the new British Open champion will find amusing.

On the very day that WeeMac was lifting his third Major, his former girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki also made a return to the winner’s enclosure.

Her victory, in a tournament in the Turkish city of Istanbul, was nowhere near as significant but it was her first since their big break-up.

There were a couple of other winners attached to the Rory story as well.

His mum Rosie was beckoned onto the 18th green at Royal Liverpool by the new Open champion as he prepared to accept the Claret Jug and then dedicated it to her.

It was shy Rosie’s first time to witness Rory win a major in the flesh so to speak and he wanted her to share the moment.

His dad Gerry also had a smile on his face as Rory saw off Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler to win the Open by two shots after leading from Thursday all the way to the finishing line.

A decade ago Gerry and three mates put a hundred quid each down with the Ladbrokes bookies chain who gave them odds of 500-1 that Rory would win the Open by the age of 26.

On Sunday he delivered his end of the deal and Gerry and his mates went home a cool half-a-million richer.