Covid 19 hasn’t had much positive impact on Irish life in general and sport has felt the full force of its deadly menace the same as any strata of society.
So it may seem slightly unusual to suggest that it could possibly benefit Andy McEntee’s Meath side when they travel to Joule Park in Aughrim for tomorrow’s Leinster quarter final clash with Wicklow.
That benefit comes in the shape of the fact that no crowds will be allowed attend the tie and there can be little doubt that facing a rejuvenated and recently promoted Wicklow in front of 10,000 Dinny and Miley soundalikes would be a far more intimidating prospect than taking them on in an empty stadium.
There is undoubtedly a gulf in class between the sides, Meath operating, unsuccessfully in the top division of the league and the Garden county gaining promotion from the bottom tier.
Traditionally though there has been a gulf in class between Wicklow and everybody but for them, more than most home advantage has been a great leveller.
The other thing that has to be factored in is how individual players react to having nobody watching them, it has often been the case that some players perform well in front of a packed house while others excel in an empty arena.
Both sides have performed strongly since the resumption of the league, albeit Meath have done so without actually managing to win, but that is counterbalanced by the fact they were up against sides far better than Wicklow were.
Inevitably though the thought keeps recurring that this a potential banana skin for the Royals, and certainly the eyes must firmly be on the prize of winning this game and not sighted on further afield adventures.
Wicklow, a side often disrupted by internal strife, have really improved under the guidance of Davy Burke who was in charge when Kildare stormed to All Ireland under 20 success recently and have made two changes to the team that beat Wexford in Wexford in their opener.
Eoin Darcy and Gearoid Murphy come into the Garden County’s attack from last weekend’s first round win over Wexford.
The pair will flank Seanie Furlong in the full-forward line as Byrne’s charges look to pull off an upset against the Royals.
Meath appear to have unearthed a real talent in Jordan Morris, and with the likes of Donal Keogan, Cillian O’Sullivan and Shane Walsh virtually guaranteed to turn in eight out of ten performances every time they should have too much fire power for their hosts.
It’s at the other end of the field there are concerns as neither Marcus Brennan or Andy Colgan have shown themselves to be top level inter county goalkeepers.
Neither have quite mastered the art of the restart satisfactorily, Brennan’s shot stopping should edge him into the position especially as Colgan has shown a suspect temperament on the big occasion.
The worry is then that soft goals will be conceded but the belief is not too many of them will be and the Meath attack will see them through.
It won’t be easy though.