Monday 16 September 2019

Same old story as the Royals run out of steam

Kerry 2-18 Meath 1-13

Sean Wall

What happens when you run a two-mile chaser in a three-mile race? If he is still in contention at the business end of things his challenge is likely to tail off coming down the home stretch.

Well, for the third Super 8s match in a row something similar happened to the Meath footballers at a packed Pairc Tailteann on Saturday.

They were still very much in contention, just three points in arrears, on 58 minutes, but their challenge faded as Kerry, without much fuss, eased themselves into the All-Ireland semi-final as winners of Group 1.

Meath have now been beaten by a combined total of 26 points in their three Super 8s ties, which could suggest that they were completely out of their depth against Donegal, Mayo and the Kingdom.

However, the margin of defeats in each of those matches somewhat distorts the facts. For long stretches of all three games the Royals proved very capable, but when it came to actually winning Andy McEntee outfit didn't have the knowhow, the killer instinct or the staying power of their opponents.

That can be attributed to a number of factors - their relative inexperience at this level, a limited panel and, probably most importantly, a lack of cutting edge in attack.

Opponents have figured out at this stage that if they can run up any sort of respectable score they will most likely emerge winners.

Against the Ulster champions Meath tallied 1-13, they hit 0-14 against Mayo and the ratio on Saturday was similar to the two earlier outings.

Meath's team selection might be a sign of what is coming in 2020, with Shane Walsh and Darragh Campion earning first-ever championship starts in a reshuffled attack. Both players performed admirably, with Walsh particularly impressive at full forward and finishing with six points, half of which came from open play.

The Na Fianna man was left isolated at times but still managed to win a plentiful supply of possession. Meath reaped rewards, in the first half at least, when they transferred the ball at a faster rate from defence to attack than in recent outings.

Campion struck for the Meath goal after Cillian O'Sullivan created the opening and the Skryne man held his composure and went past keeper Shane Ryan before netting on 23 minutes.

That goal left the hosts ahead 1-6 to to 1-5, the only time they led in the match.

Sean O'Shea and Bryan McMahon swapped points within 90 seconds of the start and Kerry were soon into their stride and raced into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the seventh minute.

O'Shea and David Moran were proving difficult to cope with in those early exchanges and indeed O'Shea proved a tormentor throughout as he finished with a personal haul of 1-8.

Another championship debutant, Marcus Brennan, provided a safe pair of hands between the posts for Meath and his kickouts almost always found their target.

Successive points from Walsh, Thomas O'Reilly and Campion had the sides level at 0-5 each, but the Kerry lead was restored when Brian O Beaglaoich netted on 16 minutes.

Kerry still led by three in first-half added time before late points from Walsh and Ethan Devine left the minimum between the sides at the break, Kerry ahead 1-10 to 1-9.

Walsh equalised within a minute of the restart, but after giving Gavin McCoy the slip O'Shea finished to the Meath net with aplomb on 42 minutes.

The scoring rate dropped for a spell, but Meath were still in contention following Bryan McMahon's third point on 58 minutes.

Two further points from O'Shea, one a '45, eased Kerry clear by the 63rd minute and at that stage the margin of victory was all that remained to be decided.

Bryan Menton had Meath's fourth and final point of the half as the curtain came down on the Royals' championship year.

KERRY: Shane Ryan; Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Tom O'Sullivan 0-1; Paul Murphy, Gavin Crowley, Brian Ó Beaglaoich 1-1; David Moran 0-2, Adrian Spillane; Gavin White, Sean O'Shea 1-8 (4f, 1 '45), Stephen O'Brien 0-1; Micheal Burns, Paul Geaney 0-2, Killian Spillane 0-3. Subs: Dara Moynihan for Burns (31), Tommy Walsh for Crowley (39), Shane Crowley for White (BC 45), Jack Sherwood for A Spillane (46), Jonathan Lyne for O'Brien (BC 52), Jack Barry for Killian Spillane (67)

MEATH: Marcus Brennan; Gain McCoy, Conor McGill, Shane Gallagher; Seamus Lavin, Padraic Harnan, Donal Keogan; Bryan Menton 0-1, Shane McEntee; Ethan Devine 0-1, Bryan McMahon 0-3, Darragh Campion 1-1; Cillian O'Sullivan, Shane Walsh 0-6 (3f), Thomas O'Reilly 0-1. Subs: Thomas McGovern for McEntee (23), Ross Ryan for McCoy (45), James Conlon for O'Reilly (51), Niall Kane for McGovern ( BC 60), Mickey Burke for Devine (63), Sean Tobin for McMahon (66)

REF: Fergal Kelly (Longford)

Drogheda Independent