McEntee: 'Missed chances came back to haunt us'
By Michael Devlin
Missed goal chances in the opening minutes were ultimately rued by Meath manager Andy McEntee in the wake of yesterday’s Allianz Football League Division One defeat to Tyrone.
The Royals fell by five points at the final whistle in Omagh, but they arguably had the better going of things for much of the first half and could have struck for a few early goals that would have had a big bearing on the outcome of the game.
Cillian O’Sullivan got in one-on-one with Niall Morgan as early as the first 30 seconds of the game, but the Tyrone stopper was alert and smothered the shot on goal. Minutes later, James McEntee located Ben Brennan in the penalty area, only for the Naomh Colmcille man to squander possession when perfectly placed.
Manager McEntee said his newly-promoted side must take every chance they are afforded if they are to stick the pace in Division One this season.
“It was frustrating, in that we did a lot of good things in the first half and we didn’t avail of the opportunities that we created.
“I suppose when you’re playing a better class of team, if you don’t take your opportunities it is always likely to come back and haunt you, and it probably did there today.
“I thought we did well to create the chances, and looked like maybe creating a few more. They probably learnt a little bit and created a few more.”
Meath went in at the break just a point down, but a lacklustre start to the second half allowed Tyrone to strengthen their grip on the game and see out victory.
“There was a bit of a breeze there, they had the advantage of that in the second half, and obviously they found it a little bit easier to get their scores than we did. A lot of the time they were dominating possession at that stage.
“A team like ourselves, on a learning curve, you need to take every opportunity that comes your way, to be able to deal with teams like Tyrone. We didn’t do it. Physically, I don’t think there’s a whole pile in it. I think our fellas look in as good a shape and as conditioned as they did.”
McEntee also commented that his team’s goalkeeping situation has become a cause for concern. Regular goalie Andy Colgan sustained an injury in yesterday’s warm-up and was replaced before the throw-in by league debutant Dominic Yorke.
After conceding possession on several kick-outs however, the Meath management opted to take off Yorke at halftime and put Barry Dardis between the sticks for the second half.
Usually a forward, Dardis played as a goalkeeper in last year's O'Byrne Cup, but he too was unable to improve Meath’s kick-out strategy as Tyrone took a stranglehold of the game in the third quarter.
“Very unfortunate for Andy, he’s damaged a knee. We don’t know the extent of it and won’t know until tomorrow or the next day.
“It’s short notice, and it’s a difficult situation for [Dominic]. Look it, that’s what he’s there for and some of these things are just out of our control.
“That is a pressure situation for a young fella who hasn’t played at this level before, so we thought it was the right thing to do.
“There’s definitely an issue there. We didn’t retain as much ball as we’d have liked.”
Meath take on Donegal, their conquerors in last year’s Division Two final, this Sunday in Navan.