Cavan and Meath clash in the Allianz Football League this Saturday night and, just for fun, PAUL FITZPATRICK lists five reasons why the Royals are the team that Cavan fans would most love to beat. Of course, Meath have won five All-Irelands since Cavan last did but there's got to be more to it than that, right? Here goes...
1: The donkey incident
There is a story told, apocryphal maybe, about Cavan playing Meath in a Centenary Cup match in Croke Park in May, 1984. Sean Boylan was at the helm and Meath were young and hungry and massacred their neighbours, 3-12 to 0-8.
Cavan supporters, then at the end of their tether (no pun intended, as you will see) after 15 years without an Anglo-Celt Cup win, scurried home down the old Dublin Road.
Somewhere near the county boundary, in Royal territory but not far from freedom, a few locals had tied a donkey to a pailing post on the side of the road, there for all the passing motorists to see, bedecked in the royal blue and white of Cavan.
And yes, before a green and gold clad comedian makes the gag, we weren't within an asses roar of them that day...
2: The 1949 All-Ireland final
Cavan were red hot favourites to win the Sam Maguire for the third year in succession but Meath, who had never won it before, halted their gallop on a 1-10 to 1-6 scoreline.
To be fair, the Meath Chronicle magnanimously carried a photo of the runners-up on their front page (below the fold) on the week after the final under the heading “Cavan Men Who Were Noble In Defeat”.
That was a nice thing to do by the grand old Navan institution but for the purpose of this article, we will choose to ignore it. Meath stopped the three-in-a-row and must not be forgiven. Not now, not ever!
3: The M3 stops before the county boundary
Away from football, this is a bugbear for all Cavan folk. The M3 is great, don't get us wrong, but why didn't it come all the way to God's Country instead of leaving us stranded, boot to the board for the last few miles of dual carriageway, to escape Royal land?
And that's before we even mention the ridiculous tailbacks in Virginia which could have been avoided. No, we can be clear on this one – Cavan got a raw deal from the M3 and it's Meath's fault.
4: Because half of Meath now lives in Mullagh
Nobody can deny this one. Whatever it is about the pretty east Cavan village (and it may have a lot to do with the stringent planning permission process up there), Meath-heads love it. A Mullagh man of our acquaintance told us recently that his next door neighbours on both sides are from Meath. Heaven help him. We rest our case.
5: The Kells incident in 1997
Deny it all you want but a certain section of the population of Kells did not cover themselves in glory back in 1997. Some locals with little to be at lined the road jeering Cavan motorists on their way home from defeat in the All-Ireland semi-final in Croker. There were reports of stones being thrown.
“Reports were received of up to 30 adults and children at Carrick St with Meath flags and long poles kicking the tyres of slow moving vehicles. They surrounded one bus, stopping it, hammerings its sides, frightening the passengers and leaving women and children in tears," The Anglo-Celt reported.
Johnny Maguire, chairman of Kells Urban District Council, apologised and said the incidents were unrepresentative of the people of the town.