Monday 22 July 2019

A day to forget for Royals

The Championship: Dublin 1-17 Meath 0-4

Sean Wall at Croke Park

It was death by 1000 cuts for the Meath footballers in a one-sided Leinster SFC decider in front of a 47,027 crowd at Croke Park on Sunday.

The Dubs were far from their brilliant best but they slowly sucked the life out of a Meath side who will want to forget this performance in a hurry.

It proved a frustrating 70 plus minutes from a Meath viewpoint with most of their failures stemming from their inaccuracy in attack.

Time and again the Royals either failed to hit the target or dropped efforts short, especially in the opening half when they managed to curtail Dublin's attacking options to a large extent.

Before the start Meath would have been reasonably happy with a four point deficit at half-time but with only a single point to show for their efforts throughout the first half there was never much chance of an upset.

The statistics don't paint a pretty picture for Andy McEntee's side. They created 17 scoring chances from play and only managed to convert three. Dublin on the other hand were far more clinical and converted 14 from a possible 19 opportunities. By the final whistle Meath had tallied 12 wides to Dublin's five.

A round four qualifier in two weeks time is Meath's next outing and on the evidence of this display they will need the draw to be exceptionally kind to them if they are to make the Super 8s. Andy McEntee and his management team now face a mammoth challenge to boost morale ahead of that crunch tie.

This was a crushing defeat and an indication of the gap that exists between these once great rivals. The margin of defeat was similar to when the sides last clashed in the final back in 2014 when Dublin won 3-20 to 1-10.

Meath had few if any ideas on how to break down the Dublin defence and slow and ponderous build ups played straight into their opponents hands.

Ben Brennan's accuracy from placed balls completely deserted him while Graham Reilly who started in place of Gavin McCoy was also off target with a number of efforts. For long spells in the opening half James Conlon was a lone figure in the Meath full forward line and with Philly McMahon playing a sweeper role the St Colmcille's man's opportunities were limited.

A poor kick-out from Andy Colgan led to the opening score from Ciaran Kilkenny on 11 minutes. The flying Jack McCaffrey added a second point a minute later and the corner back was again on the attack soon after but this time James McEntee managed a block at the expense of a '45 which Cormac Costello converted.

At the other end Meath frustrations heightened with further wides and efforts dropping into Stephen Cluxton's hands. Further points from Paul Mannion and Brian Howard left it 0-5 to 0-0 after 24 minutes. Dublin than had a gilt-edge chance to open their goal tally when Con O'Callaghan was fouled for a penalty. Paul Mannion took the spot-kick but his effort rebounded off the post and was eventually cleared.

The game was in the 33rd minute when Brian Menton had Meath off the mark. Meath then had chances to close the gap before half-time but Conlon was short with an effort while Newman and Brennan were both wide from frees.

The wide count continued to mount for Meath at the start of the second half with five in a 10 minute spell. Dublin didn't have to break sweat as McCaffrey and Costello (free) added further scores.

Newman converted a free from in front of the posts following a foul on Ronan Ryan on 43 minutes and when the Kilmainham scored from play it left it 0-9 to 0-3 on 49 minutes.

When the game opened up in the last 20 minutes Dublin did what they have done so often in the past, they turned the screw and hammered home their superiority.

The introduction of Dean Rock spurred Dublin to greater heights and the Ballymun Kickhams man hit four points following his arrival to the action on 52 minutes. Another sub Paddy Andrews also got on the scoring and the goal Dublin threatened all afternoon finally arrived from the boot of Con O'Callaghan who finished to the net in clinical fashion on 68 minutes.

Rock almost hit a second goal deep into added time but his effort flashed across the face of the goal and wide.

Meath's final point was the games' last score and it came from Newman.

DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Michael Fitzsimons, Philly McMahon 0-1, Jack McCaffrey 0-2; David Byrne, Cian O'Sullivan, John Small; James McCarthy, Brian Fenton 0-1; Niall Scully, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-1, Brian Howard 0-1; Cormac Costello 0-3 (2f, 1 '45), Paul Mannion 0-3, Con O'Callaghan 1-0. Subs: Michael Darragh Macauley for McCarthy (32), Dean Rock 0-4 (1f) for Howard (52), Kevin McManamon for Costello (58), Paddy Small for Kilkenny (61), Paddy Andrews 0-1 for Paddy Small (65), Rory O'Carroll for McCaffrey (68).

MEATH:  Andrew Colgan; Shane Gallagher, Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill; James McEntee, Donal Keogan, Ronan Ryan; Bryan Menton 0-1, Shane McEntee; Cillian O'Sullivan, Bryan McMahon, Graham Reilly; Ben Brennan, Michael Newman 0-3 (1f), James Conlon. Subs: Sean Tobin for Brennan (39), Ethan Devine for Reilly (40), Thomas O'Reilly for Conlon (54), Barry Dardis for Shane McEntee (58), Sean Curran for Gallagher (65), Thomas McGovern for McMahon (65).

Referee:  Sean Hurson (Tyrone)

Drogheda Independent