Murphy: They bullied us in second half
Wicklow manager Harry Murphy acknowledged that his team were physically inferior to Meath in Dr Cullen Park yesterday.
Murphy admitted that the Division 4 champions were "bullied" by a bigger team and had no answer to the pace of Graham Reilly running through the middle.
After a good start they were resigned to their fate as half-time approached, he said.
"We started quite well, but then Meath's power came into it. They're big all over the place. When they started coming at us we didn't have much in defence," said Murphy.
"They took over midfield, Graham Reilly killed us coming at us all day. We just didn't have the strength.
"We couldn't have asked for any better a start but when they came at us we had no answer to them. They bullied us in the second half. We had a few chances near the end but, realistically, Meath were the better side.
"It wasn't just midfielders they had, they had big men all over the field. We just hadn't the physique."
His opposite number, Seamus McEnaney, felt his players were able to put the distractions of recent weeks behind them to concentrate on this game.
"There has been a lot of talk, full stop. For me, we never lost our focus for this match.
"When we came back into training there was only one thing in our head and that was playing Wicklow here in Carlow on May 27, nothing else.
"What was said outside of our group is totally irrelevant.
"The only thing that matters is what is inside these four walls and the lads have really worked extremely hard. I'm telling you, you can't believe how hard these fellas have worked over the last four weeks."
For McEnaney, however, the pressure still hasn't lifted.
"I think that every championship match is a pressure match, whether you're a player or manager and you want to perform at the very best."
McEnaney has injury concerns over Seamus Kenny, who will miss the Carlow game with suspected medial ligament damage to his knee, but Stephen Bray and Paddy Gilsenan both have prospects of being ready in two weeks' time.
Irish Independent Sport Star Awards
Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.