THE predatory instincts of corner forwards Daire Rowe and Joey Wallace destroyed Wicklow in this Leinster MFL round two game at Pairc Tailteann last Saturday.
Between them the pair notched 2-12 of their team's tally in what was a one-sided affair and the outcome ensured Meath's passage to the semi-final ahead of their final-round mid-week game against Carlow.
Wicklow never posed a serious threat as Ratoath club man Wallace struck for a brace of goals in the space of a minute mid-way through the first half. Wallace's opening goal came following good play between Syddan pair Rowe and Kevin Traynor and it put Meath into a 1-2 to 0-1 lead. Rowe laid on the second goal and Wallace fisted to the net at the second attempt after his initial effort had hit the crossbar.
Full forward Paul Murtagh replied almost immediately for Wicklow's goal after the home side had squandered possession, but it was never a contest as Wallace added two further points and Rowe took his tally of points to five as Meath built up a 2-7 to 1-1 interval lead.
With St Patrick's Navan in Leinster Colleges action it was a much changed Meath outfit from the team that had 14 points to spare in the win over Wexford. James McEntee, Ruairi O Coileain, Niall Lyons, Niall Kane and James O'Malley were all on duty with St Pat's who beat St Peter's Wexford in a quarter-final tie. However Rowe and Wallace made the most of their opportunity and did their chances of regular spots no harm as they took their tallies to 0-8 and 2-4 respectively.
Wallace accounted for the opening two scores of the second half as Meath added six more points in the third quarter. Rowe was on target for three of his side's last four points, all from play as the lead stretched to 15 before the final whistle.
Manager Andy McEntee expressed mixed feelings, though, about his side's overall performance afterwards.
'The first half wasn't good enough. We were slow, we were waiting for the ball, we weren't in for the breaking ball as well as I would have liked.
'I wasn't happy with the first half at all. We scored plenty, but we'll judge ourselves with our own levels,' McEntee said. 'I just though it was very pedestrian, especially the first 15 minutes and it was like a juvenile scoreline of 2-2 to 0-1. I'd like to see us working a little bit harder.
'We missed plenty, the wrong guys were taking the shots, we had three lads in the full forward line who would take the eye out of your head, get the ball to them, they were the lads to be scoring.
'Overall I'm not really ecstatic about that performance, I think we could have shown a lot more in the first half in particular. A few lads that didn't play the previous week really caught the eye, though. Obviously Daire Rowe and Joey Wallace - they are very accurate and they make very clever runs. I thought Thomas McGovern did particularly well, that was his first outing, Kevin Traynor did very nicely at wing back as well and it was good for Kyle Dixon to get a game as he is coming back from playing rugby.'
MEATH: Andy Markey (Dunboyne); David Reilly (Dunshaughlin), Charlie Bird (Boardsmill), Thomas McGovern (Donaghmore/Ashbourne); Kevin Traynor (Syddan), Gavin McGowan (Ratoath), Seamus Lavin (Dunboyne); Kyle Dixon (Boardsmill), Evan McGovern (St Vincent's) 0-1; Shaun Byrne (Donaghmore/Ashbourne), Ruairi O'Grady (St Colmcille's) 0-1, David Toner (Curraha); Joey Wallace (Ratoath) 2-4, Sean McGrath (Dunboyne) 0-1, Daire Rowe (Syddan) 0-8 (2f). Subs: Ben Duggan (Dunshaughlin) for Toner (h-t), Dan Ormsby (Dunshaughlin) for Reilly (h-t), Kevin Ryan (Summerhill) for Byrne (36), Stefan Kelly (Ballivor) for McGrath (39), Sean Power (St Cuthbert's) for McGowan (42), Keith McCabe (Ratoath) 0-1 for McGovern (42)
WICKLOW: Robert Fitzgerald; Conor Burke, Adam Benson, Emmet Cullen; Rory Marron, Eoghan Marrah, Niall Donnelly; Conor Devlin, John Teehan Burke; Conor Healy, David Tomkins 0-1, David Baker; Michael O'Connor, Paul Murtagh 1-2 (0-2f), Ian Richardson. Subs: Jack Gilligan for Burke (16), Simon Boucher 0-1 for Healy (36), Ben McCormack for Marrah (42).
REFEREE: David Fedigan (Louth).