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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Forward flair gives McEntee's Meath the edge in Leinster battle

Meath's Pauric Harnan (green) comes under pressure
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Meath v Kildare Sky Sports 1, 7pm Saturday

Meath have a cracking crop of forwards and that flair up front can see them book a place in the Leinster final at the expense of Kildare.

Those who fancy Kildare will point out that the Lilywhites were ten points too good for Meath in the league (3-17 to 0-16) and secured promotion to Division 1.

But the Meath team who faced them in that February showdown were raw and reckless. They were still learning what their new manager wanted and they are completely different proposition now.

Meath scored 0-27 in their win over Louth with nine different players on the scoresheet but Andy McEntee's men could easily have added another four or five goals and possibly five more points to that total so the final scoreline could have been colossal had they been more clinical. 

This Meath team are short in some areas, with a tight-marking corner-back and a centre-back back top of the list, but they have natural scoring forwards with pace and it seems McEntee has found a way of getting the ball to them as quickly as possible.

Three out of every four restarts crossed the halfway line and the fact that one of the rare occasions that he tried to go short resulted in a Louth goal suggests that he might go long every time from now on.

Kevin Feely would enjoy such a tactic and the tall Kildare midfielder has been a real find by Cian O'Neill, while Tommy Moolick is certainly no mug in the air but if O'Rourke is able to hit his half-forward line, where James Toher and Graham Reilly could dig out Bryan Menton and Ronan Jones, it could spell danger for Kildare.

Reilly is the Meath captain and he has done something that might never have been achieved before. In his last two competitive matches, Clare in the league and Louth in the championship, he has scored seven points from play. His confidence is sky high.

Cillian O'Sullivan was unable to come up with an end product against Louth but every time he touched the ball he looked lethal. Bryan McMahon has raw pace and Donal Lenihan has also become a reliable point-builder, so Kildare's rearguard unit could struggle.

O'Sullivan is the one who could really catch fire and it is hard to resist having a small wager on him at 11-1 for man of the match. He is a star and this could be the stage for him to show the rest of the country.

Meath failed to find the net against Louth but they created six glorious gilt-edged goal opportunities. McMahon hit the crossbar and O'Sullivan missed a sitter, while dodgy handling cost them in the final part of various moves but they were able to cut open Louth at will.

Scoring three goals against Kildare is a big ask but 13-2 about that happening is generous. Paddy Power go just 9-2 about three or more Meath goals and that looks the right price.

Meath -1
2pts 15-8 BoyleSports
Meath over 2.5 goals
1pt 13-2 BoyleSports
Cillian O'Sullivan man of the match
1pt 12-1 BoyleSports, Coral, Ladbrokes

Already advised (May 19)
Meath to win Leinster without Dublin
3pts 6-5 Paddy Power

In his last two competitive matches, Clare in the league and Louth in the championship, he has scored seven points from play
E.W. Terms
Sky bet