Cillian O'Sullivan remains hopeful
By Cian O’Connell
Attaining Allianz Football League Division One status remains the spring target for Cillian O’Sullivan, who is adamant Meath will relish Saturday’s trip to Kingspan Breffni.
A draw with Roscommon following a gripping game was followed by a convincing win for the Royals over Clare last Sunday.
It means that Andy McEntee’s developing team make the short trip to Cavan hopeful about maintaining their solid start to the campaign.
“I suppose we all feel we are making progress, but in terms of the objective stuff, of actual objective evidence getting that Division One status would be a significant boost,” O’Sullivan admits.
“It would get a bit of a buzz back; I'm not playing football with Meath to be competing in Division Two and I don't understand people talking about this stuff solidifying for a year and then making a push next year.
“I don't think that is good for anyone in Meath football, you improve by competing against the best teams, they will bring the best out of you.
“Obviously of course you would be looking forward to the pre-season much more if you knew you were going to be playing the likes of Kerry, Donegal, and Dublin, and really competing with the best in terms of seeing where you are in terms of yourself and your own ability and the teams ability.”
At Dr Hyde Park Meath staged a dramatic comeback to take the lead late on before being pegged back by a Roscommon rally. The response against Clare, though, was satisfactory according to O’Sullivan.
“It was good to get over the disappointment of the first week having been in control and then letting it slip,” O’Sullivan says.
“It was disappointing to have it taken away from you so quickly, it nearly felt like a loss. That is the best thing about the League, you had the Clare game and you were able to focus in on that, to improve on the game the week before, to put things right essentially.
“That is the thing, you always have the chance to make up for a poor performance or improve on a performance. We are very much looking forward to the Cavan game now, when you are improving you always feel you are in a good place and we are looking forward to the challenge, especially with Cavan coming down from Division One.
“Having played two of the teams that came down in the first three rounds it will give us an indication as to where we are in our development and whether we are capable of being competitive in Division One.”
O’Sullivan played under Andy McEntee during Meath’s march to the All Ireland minor final back in 2012. McEntee’s mixture of purpose and passion is noted by the current generation of Meath footballers.
“He is hugely passionate,” O’Sullivan states. “The thing is every Meath manager that has been there, that I have worked with, has been passionate.
“Just having worked with Andy before, naturally enough you'd develop a strong relationship with someone like that. Having other individuals involved in the team, panel members who went on that journey reaching an All Ireland minor final. He is an incredibly passionate man, but he is also very methodical in his approach.
“He is very modern in terms of the tactics that we use, the monitoring of our performance in terms of GPS systems and all of that. It is a great mix having that passionate individual, but he is bringing a modern approach to the game making sure we are essentially not left wanting.
“The responsibility lies with the players at the end of the day if we don't perform because we have been provided with everything.”
Launching a promotion bid is precisely what Meath crave to do in 2018. O’Sullivan, ravaged by a serious back injury in the early part of his inter-county career, is ready, willing, and able to help accomplish this mission.