LATE points by substitute Chris Sallier and Conor Kavanagh helped Dublin register a hard-earned three-point victory over Meath in their Leinster Minor Football Championship quarter-final at a sun-kissed Parnell Park on Saturday.
Certainly, manager Cyril Kevlihan can be pleased with the defensive alignment over the hour, especially given they played without two key defensive personnel in Jack Mullins and Shane Clayton for the bulk of the second-half.
However, Dublin’s progression to the last four could have been made more comfortable but for some errant shooting, especially in the opening-half, where Dublin enjoyed a marked dominance around the middle third.
Andrew Foley’s return to action helped in that regard with the Clontarf player offering a viable aerial option in addition to kicking a brace of critical scores either side of the interval.
Much of Meath’s attacking plan was based on the movement of full-forward Daire Rowe and the Syddan clubman highlighted his threat with a fine score inside fifteen seconds.
Foley’s midfield partner, Eoghan McHugh, levelled for Dublin two minutes later but some poor wides added a degree of frustration to Dublin’s play as they fell behind following a raid by wing-back Jordan McLoughlin.
Jack Burke and Con O’Callaghan replied for Dublin with the former enjoying a fine first-half from wing-forward, kicking three critical scores as Dublin enjoyed a narrow 0-7 to 0-6 interval advantage.
A sublime score from Dylan Brady restored parity within seconds of the resumption and the ebb and flow was maintained as Dublin briefly reaffirmed their control through unanswered points by Conor Kavanagh and O’Callaghan.
Clayton’s black card in the 37th minute saw Dublin regroup further but O’Callaghan’s power on the ball earned some crucial frees for Dublin that Kavanagh converted comfortably but with Meath continuing to press, perhaps lacking the belief to seize the initiative completely as they managed to reduce their deficit to a point with four minutes remaining.
Sallier’s excellent score eased the pressure on Dublin somewhat and a fifth free of the half by Kavanagh completed the scoring on a tense and error-strewn afternoon.
Scorers - Dublin: C Kavanagh 0-6 (6f); J Burke 0-3; C O’Callaghan, A Foley 0-2; E McHugh, C Sallier 0-1 each.
Dublin: E Whelan; C Murphy, J Mullins, D Monahan; A McGowan, S Clayton, G O’Reilly; A Foley, E McHugh; C Basquel, C Kavanagh, J Burke; B Howard, C O’Callaghan, R McBride.
Meath: J Lynch; R McDonagh, C Bird, D Ormsby; J McLoughlin, B Harnan, R Ryan; K Dixon, R Jones; S Comiskey, D Heaney, D Brady; J Cullen, D Rowe, D McLoughlin.
REF: P Maguire (Longford).