IT’S only a short hop by car from Sean Meehan’s home in Kiskeam to the cathedral of Kerry football, Fitzgerald Stadium.
Yet, the 22-year-old Cork centre-back has still to grace the hallowed turf and experience the unique atmosphere of the crammed bear-pit on big-match day.
Some of that will change tomorrow in the latest Munster final between the fierce rivals at 4pm though Covid restrictions means only 2,500 are allowed.
“It is only about 25 minutes away from me at home and I have been to a lot of games back there alright over the years, but I never played there,” said the fourth-year Mary Immaculate College student.
“It’s like any venue really. In our eyes we just have to go out and beat whoever we play and tomorrow will be no different.
“I’ve played in one Munster final already, but obviously without the crowd, but still it’s a game against a good opposition. It will be a high tempo, fast game and sure we know what’s coming.” Players from Duhallow appreciate the rivalry between the two counties better than most.
Living in the likes of Kiskeam, Knocknagree and Ballydesmond, to mention just three, means there is no escape from the chatter and slanging particularly in the build up to a Munster final, especially in Killarney.
“Being on the border, it is obviously a big thing.
You have neighbours from either side of the border and they would be having the craic with each other, but when you come into a setup like this you can’t take too much notice of things like that.
“We just have to play the game. If you get caught up in things like that, then you’re taking your eye off the ball.
“We have a job to do and you have to do it — simple as that. Rivalries are massive and are the lifeblood of the game, but when you are involved you have to park those things.”
Meehan first came to prominence during Cork’s memorable Munster and All-Ireland U20 campaign in 2019, when he displayed his talents as a modern centre-back, strong in defence and ever-willing to venture forward at the right time.
“I joined the panel before the McGrath Cup last year. It was a massive honour to be asked into the panel.
“I was delighted and mad to get some sort of game time when I got here. Yet, I wasn’t playing well enough to be honest with you.
“I went back to my club to sort out a few things and when I returned I was in good form.
“I got a few minutes against Louth in the league and then got a chance against Kerry which was a great time to start.
“I suppose you could say I was thrown in at the deep end in that game because it was such a big game.
“But, those are the types of games you want to play.
Growing up, playing against Kerry in the Munster championship was the game we all wanted to play in, so when I got the chance to do that I wasn’t going to let the opportunity go.”
Naturally, the discussion moved to that fateful moment at the end of extra-time, when Kerry held that precarious of leads-two points-with the clock about to expire on Cork, who mounted one last, desperate bid to save the day.
And the championship rookie was central to Mark Keane’s place in history. “It was late in the game and I was going to run the ball as best I could.
“I got past the first tackle. I could have worked for a shot but even at that stage it was kind of made up in my head that I was going to pass it off.
“For me there was no point in taking a tired shot. Damien Gore was just on the pitch as well as the likes of Luke Connolly and they would have had a far better chance of a shot than me. It would it all worked out in the end."