With more than 10 years playing with Meath, the Dunshaughlin man gives us his predictions for the upcoming season.
Sportstalk: Who do you think will win Division 1,2,3,4?
Caoimhin King: 1. Mayo, 2. Tipp, 3. Tyrone, 4. Wexford
ST: Who do you think will be top scorer in Division 1,2,3,4 leagues?
CK: 1. Conor McManus, 2. Donie Kingston, 3. Adrian Marren, 4. Emlyn Mulligan
ST: Who do you think will be named player of the Division 1 National Football league?
CK: Darren Hughes
ST: Who do you think will get relegated from Division 1,2,3?
CK: 1. Donegal, Down 2.Derry,Laois 3.Offaly, Limerick
ST: Give a brief summary of how you see the Division 1,2,3,4 panning out.
CK: Division 1: Very competitive – winners between Dublin (want to be like Kilkenny and win all around them) Mayo (under pressure to produce, good new manager at helm aiming to impress) and a hurt Kerry (never played as bad as All ireland final). Down, Donegal and Roscommon to struggle with Donegal looking a bit tired and not motivated by league. Monaghan (have they reached their peak?)
Division 2: Hard to call this division, all at similar level bar maybe Tyrone. All capable of beating each other. Meath have good chance as they have a good record against Ulster opponents. Can see a few dour games in this division given the amount of Ulster teams. The betting is close as Fermanagh have as good a chance as any of getting promoted and they are the bookies least favourite option. Derry could struggle in this division as they are hugely inconsistent and lack fire power. Armagh were very dissappointing last year and with no Jamie Clark they will also struggle for scores. Galway are a good bet for promotion as they have a very respectable manager in Kevin Walsh. Meath have come 3rd in this division 2 years in a row, is this there time?
Division 3: Kildare clear favourites with the bookies but they will have it a lot harder than people think. Tipperary are a good outside bet with u21s coming through. Sligo and Clare will also be hard bet. Limerick and Offaly could struggle in what will be a close group.
Division 4: Its between Antrim, Wexford and Louth. Wexford are capable of matching anyone on their day but are unpredictable and inconsistent in the league. Louth had a poor year last year without paddy keenan and will be keen to make amends. Antrim will be dogged and difficult to beat particularly at home.
ST: What did you think about playing in the National Football League?
CK: Delighted to have games to break the boredom and pointlessness of so much training. Different type of game compared to championship – it suits certain players more than others. Can have little or no impact in how team performs in champ. Experts can view far too much into league placing but as Wexford beating Down showed last year in their champ match, league form can be thrown out the window. Teams with new managers will always be flying in first couple league games trying to impress supporters but team will eventually burn out and struggle in latter stages.
ST: When was your national league debut, who was it against and how did it go for you?
CK: Debut versus Derry in Ballinasceen in Derry in Feb 2005. Played OK, remember being creamed by a bear of a full back in Niall McCusker. Result was a draw and I remember thinking the gap in standard between club and county wasn’t as high as people said.
ST: Which ground did you least prefer playing in the National League? Explain why.
CK: Never fond of Salthill, always cold, always a poor local support mixed with poor results unfortunately, little or no atmosphere to boot
ST: Which team do you think this League is the most important for? Explain.
CK: Div 1-Mayo (after removing manager-must get results)
Div 2-Armagh (dis-improved last year under McGeeney) Meath (need a big year)
Div 3-Kildare (to prove they’re not as bad as they performed against Kerry) Tipperary (need to start building on underage momentum)
Div 4-Wexford (need to show some consistency and prove there above div 4 standard)
ST: What’s your best memory from the national football league?
CK: The Meath-Dublin handbags in Parnell Park and the hullabaloo made sticks in my mind and we nearly made a traditional Meath comeback that day when we came from 7 down just to lose by a point.
ST: If you could sign 3 players from other counties for your team, who would you sign and why?
CK: Darren Hughes(Excels in every position from full back to full forward-athletic and strong)
Keith Higgins (best defender in the game and one that Meath could do with)
Gary Brennen Clare(prob best midfielder in the game – hugely mobile and dominant performer similar to Limerick’s John Galvin in terms of importance to their team.
ST: What was your least favourite memory from the league?
CK: Getting relegated to division 3 after getting a hiding in Navan from Louth in deciding game (Team and management were all over the place)
ST: There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about player burnout, a GAA calendar that is unfair on clubs, getting rid of the under 21 competitions, combining the League and Championship to shorten the year for inter-county players etc What are your opinions on all this and what changes would you suggest to the structure of the GAA calendar?
CK: A combination with league and champ would be great for the game. With proper marketing which the GAA is terrible at compared to rugby could boost crowds and excitement among supporters. The under 21s despite the quality of its games has run its course- 19,20,21 year olds are now key members of senior teams and have enough on their plates with college football etc. County junior teams could be used to try out some under 21s who are on the verge of making county senior panels.
I do think the marketing of our products is very poor. Why are championship draws made in November and not on the eve of champ where there would be huge anticipation. League games get little or no publicity compared to pro 12 rugby games. Mid week and Friday night league games between neighboring counties would bring huge crowds. The inter provincials should be used for having a look at new rules. It should be shown live on television with public votes on what rules work etc.
ST: Is the general standard of football improving or getting worse?
CK: Despite what people think skill levels are at an all time high (corner backs scoring) every player on the field including goalkeepers displaying a huge range of skills compared to 20, 30 years ago when the skill was left to a certain few. The standard of the spectacle however has disimproved alarmingly thanks to defensive tactics and maintaining possession of the ball. The majority of games are now boring and the man to man element has been reduced. Jim McGuiness’ most basic soccer tactic of everyone bar 1 or 2 being behind the ball is causing our game to lose viewership and popularity.
ST: Who do you think will be the surprise package of this years League?
CK: Fermanagh & Tipperary
ST: How important do you think it is to do well in the league ahead of championship?
CK: Not very. Derry were unbeaten in division one 2 years ago up to league final and failed to win a league match. The game I talked about as my worst defeat in getting relegated to division 3 was followed by a win over Kildare in the champ who has just won division 2. Last years division 2 teams who were promoted both suffered short summers while Westmeath and Kildare who were relegated went a lot further. Cork looked again impressive in last years league only to exit champ very tamely to Kildare. Every year results like these happens, bar Kilkenny in hurling, the Kerry teams of the past and the current Dublin team no other teams are capable of sustaining a solid level of consistency between the league and the champ.
ST: Favourite Box set?
ST: Favourite movie of all time?
CK: Inglorious Bastards
ST: Favourite song to listen to before a match
CK: Any Luke Kelly song
ST: Toughest opponent
CK: David Kelly, Sligo
ST: 3 young players from your club to watch out for
CK: Ben Duggan, Danny Quinn, Ken Mctighe
ST: 3 things you would bring with you to a deserted island
CK: Sun cream factor 50, a Luke Kelly cd, a years supply of banoffee (serious sweet tooth)
ST: Medal you most cherish in football
CK: Leinster 2010(even if I would have preferred a replay with Louth to try win it properly)
ST: What did you love most about been an intercounty football
CK: The respect you recieved
ST: What did you dislike most about being an intercounty footballer
CK: The stupidity of some of the training and the training to game ratio.
ST: Fav holiday destination
CK: Elba, Italy
ST: Fav soccer team
ST: Laziest team-mate you played with
CK: Prob Cian Ward even though he is a very good pundit and was desceptively quick
ST: If you could be someone else for one day who would you be
ST: Other sports you have played
CK: Hurling, soccer, basketball with the lads
ST: Most annoying person on tv
CK: George Hook
ST: 3 people you would like to go to dinner with.
CK: Barrack Obama, Bear Grylls, Michael Collins
ST: Favourite dinner
ST: What age do you think you will retire from club football
CK: Next year- as always