Jack Regan: 'Meath hurling is on the up'
By John Harrington
A memorable year for Meath hurling will end with another high if they manage to beat Mayo in today’s Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U-21 Hurling ‘B’ Final.
The Royal County created a seismic shock when they defeated Antrim in the Christy Ring Cup Final earlier this year, and their minors earned honour in defeat when losing to Kerry in the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor ‘B’ Hurling Final last weekend.
According to U-21 Meath captain, Jack Regan, hurling in the county is on the way up.
“You’d have to take positives from it,” he says. “The seniors and then to have the minors playing in Semple Stadium last week as well is massive.
“We were wrote off in the semi-final against Kerry but I thought we were hungrier than Kerry and worked harder than them. I think we deserve to be there.
“Meath hurling is definitely on the up. There has been serious work done at underage by the likes of Peter Durnin and lads like this.”
Meath were well-beaten by Kerry in the 2015 All-Ireland U-21 ‘B’ Championship but turned the tables in this year’s semi-final when they won by a convincing nine-point margin.
“I looked across their whole half-back line and I compared it to the Kerry half-back line from last year and it was the exact same half-back line,” saus Regan.
“So it was a strong Kerry team that we beat and that is definitely satisfying. From last year’s team people might have said we are weaker because we lost the likes of Jack Fagan and a couple of others who are overage.
“But we gained the two Ryan twins from Kiltale who are absolutely flying and another man from Kiltale, Kevin Ryan, who is back from America. So I think our panel is definitely stronger than it was last year.”
Meath will compete in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship next year. They’ll probably be underdogs for every game they play, but Regan believes they can continue surprising people.
“I actually saw the odds for next year’s All-Ireland Championship, Meath are sitting there at 5000-1. So I said yeh we might be worth a euro!
“No, it will be good. There is a round robin. I think we have Laois and Kerry at home in the first two games and Westmeath in Cusack Park. Definitely, why wouldn’t we look to kick on.
“We went down to Austin Stack Park in Tralee two years and really put it up to them. I remember there was about five minutes gone in the game and their centre-back picked up a ball.
“He was about 40 yards out from his own goal and Mickey Burke ran into him, he nearly broke the man in two. He opened him. We were waiting around for an ambulance for a little while but that set the tone that day.
“They only beat us by a couple of points. We should have beaten them. We were up by four or five points at one stage and actually Jack Fagan rattled the crossbar with a couple of minutes to go. It’s the little margins like that.
“But definitely, you get them up in Trim and crash into them at 100 miles per hour then you wouldn’t know what would happen.”
The Meath hurling cause would certainly gather further momentum if they beat Mayo today, and Regan believes the prospect of earning a place on the senior panel next year will drive him and all of his team-mates on.
“It is something tangible. I know Martin Ennis is going to be down here at the game and John Andrews probably and whoever else is going to be involved in the senior backroom team.
“They are going to be looking for more young lads to come forward.”