Dublin football manager Jim Gavin says he is expecting a tough challenge against an impressive Meath side when they meet in the Leinster football championship final at Croke Park on July 20.
The Round Tower’s clubman detailed how historically matches with The Royal County are closely-fought affairs, and that he is anticipating more of the same on Sunday week.
“They are always hard games of football,” he said of his team’s previous bouts with Meath.
“There is a kind of local rivalry between the teams as both counties share borders and they really go at each other which makes for exciting games of football.
“But there are no guarantees in sport and on a given day against Meath, it could go either way.”
This will be the third provincial title decider between the counties in a row, with the Dubs having won both the previous two finals in 2012 and 2013.
However, the Royals have been in formidable form with a 7-13 to 0-6 hammering of Carlow and 2-16 to 0-17 defeat of Kildare on route to this year’s final.
And Gavin believes they have become a stronger side and will ask a lot of questions of his highly-fancied Dublin team.
“I was impressed with Meath in both their previous championship games. They play a traditionally robust-style of football; they are solid in defence, mobile across the pitch and dangerous up front.
“To score a combined total of 9-29 against Carlow and a very decent Kildare side is very impressive and it shows they are hungry for goals and can close games out in a professional manner.
“And the fact that they only let Kildare have one shot on goal and not conceded any tells you how tight their defence is, so it is going to be a fascinating contest.”
Of his own experience of playing for Dublin against Meath, he added: “They’re always physical encounters and there’s always a level of respect between the players.”
Meath last won the Leinster title in 2010 following a controversial final win over Louth and in that successful campaign they dumped Dublin out 5-09 to 0-13 in the semi-final.
That setback was the last time The Dubs lost a match in the provincial championship and Gavin hopes his squad’s quality strength in depth can ensure it stays that way.
“It takes more than 15 players to win a game,” he said.
“It takes the players coming in to stand up and be counted. The players have a responsibilty to perform and they are expected to play to the best they can.
“It’s about what you can do for the team and my job is to get the best use out of the players we have.”