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New Meath manager Andy McEntee.

New Meath manager Andy McEntee.

Andy McEntee: 'I'm very happy so far'

By Cian O’Connell

It has been a solid and satisfactory start to January action for Meath, who have claimed two comfortable Bord Na Mona Cup victories over Wicklow and DIT.

New manager Andy McEntee is encouraged by the manner in which is panel is working diligently ahead of the Royals’ Allianz Football League Division Two campaign.

Ensuring Meath are primed to make an impact in the Spring is the highly rated McEntee’s current brief. Having guided Ballyboden St Enda’s to AIB All Ireland club glory last March, McEntee is optimistic about Meath’s short-term future. “I'm very happy so far, until we get into the real cut and thrust of the competitive stuff which is ultimately the National League you don't really know where you stand,” McEntee admits.“In saying that the level of commitment and effort from everybody is fantastic.

“We have a big number there at the moment, everybody is putting in a huge effort. I think that can be seen by both performances. They weren't perfect by any means, but the appetite and work rate from everybody is what we were looking for really.”

So delivering in the League is what Meath intend to do. “I think if you are setting a goal for yourself it has to be achievable,” McEntee says.

“I think getting Division One status is achievable, I think it will be very difficult, but it is achievable. There are a lot of teams in Division Two of similar stature.

“Cork, Galway, Kildare, Derry, Clare, Fermanagh, Down, and Meath there isn't much between any of them. You'd imagine, as has been the case in the last couple of years of the League in that Division a lot of teams are beating each other. That is because there is so little between them and I'd imagine it will be similar enough this year.”

Before then McEntee is hopeful that Meath can secure a couple of more fixtures by advancing to the knock-out stages of the O’Byrne Cup.

In Stradbally on Saturday Meath face Laois in a winner-takes-all Group 3 encounter to determine who progresses. “It is perfectly set-up,” McEntee acknowledges.

“Laois were never really easily bowled over by Meath, they are well able to stand up for themselves so I'm expecting a good contest.

“I know it is early in the year, but there is something at stake. That adds a little bit to the occasion and hopefully both teams will get a bit out of it, but we are looking to go as far in this as we possibly can.”

McEntee guided Meath to an All Ireland Minor Final in 2012 and he wants them to become a serious and competitive force at senior inter-county level.

“Ultimately that is our goal,” McEntee responds. “I don't think anybody is deluded enough to think we are going to be winning All Irelands straightway, but I think it is important that the likes of Meath and Kildare and teams like that, who have decent populations - it is important that they are competitive.

“So from our point of view we want to try to bridge that gap as quickly as we can in order to be as competitive as we can.” The early signs are promising for Meath, who are gathering belief and momentum once more.

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