MEATH kingpins Navan O'Mahonys travelled to Pearse Park in Longford yesterday as 8/15 favourites with the bookies ... and then departed with tails firmly between legs, victims of an 11-point mugging by a rampant Emmet óg.
In what constituted the shock of the day in Leinster, the unheralded Longford champions from Killoe demolished O'Mahonys by 2-13 to 0-8. Their reward is a daunting semi-final trip to provincial heavyweights Portlaoise but, on this form, even the perennial Laois champions won't be taking anything for granted.
Emmet óg had already proven their credentials in recent weeks - beating holders Longford Slashers in a county final replay before dispatching St Anne's of Wexford. On that basis, toppling the Meath champions wasn't a complete shock - but the margin certainly was.
They held a 0-7 to 0-4 interval cushion and then raced over the horizon with two well-taken goals inside three minutes of the restart.
Simon Kiernan fisted an excellent opener over the head of Navan netminder Marcus Brennan; almost straight away, All Star nominee Michael Quinn capitalised on a defensive error when he intercepted a wayward pass and raced through to fire home goal number two. O'Mahonys briefly rallied but to no avail.
Emmet óg's next outing is unlikely to be anything so straight-forward - unless, of course, Portlaoise repeat their latest cakewalk demolition.
Their trek to 'Fortress Aughrim' was more like a gentle Sunday afternoon stroll as they ovewhelmed a hapless St Patrick's of Wicklow by 3-15 to 0-4.
Not for the first time, Portlaoise deflated underdog opposition by going for the early jugular: they led by 2-6 to no score at half-time.
It was hard to credit that Pat's had earlier downed Eire óg of Carlow as standout wing-back Conor Boyle and former county star Brian McCormack notched their opening two goals, before Eoghan Whelan iced the cake with their third goal in the 52nd minute.
"We had worked on getting a good start because Aughrim has a notorious name," explained their joint-manager, Mick Lillis.
"It certainly wasn't the game we expected."