Meath push on as Evans left fuming
After losing by five points, Roscommon manager John Evans was furious with the decision to allow Meath's second goal to stand in the opening half at Hyde Park.
Graham Reilly's 31st-minute goal was given by referee Niall Cullen after Meath substitute Eamonn Wallace appeared to push Roscommon corner-back Niall Collins before setting up Reilly to raise his team's second green flag of the half.
The result eased Meath's relegation worries, but it left Evans furious at the end. "Hard luck played a part but there were some terrible decisions out there. The whole place is talking about Meath's second goal. Our players were very annoyed at half-time," he said.
"You have sideline officials, they put their heads down and say nothing when referees make a decision like that. But everybody saw the push. Those decisions hurt us."
The Royals laid the platform for victory in the opening 35 minutes when they established a 2-6 to 0-3 interval advantage with a strong wind behind them. Their opening goal from Kevin Reilly in the 14th minute had an element of good fortune about it as the midfielder's delivery from 70 yards carried in the wind and deceived the defence before bouncing over goalkeeper Geoffrey Claffey and into the net.
The visitors added points through Cian Ward (2), Ciaran Lenihan, David Larkin and two frees from Michael Newman. Roscommon responded with two points from the excellent Conor Devaney, who kicked five points from play overall, and a free from Donie Shine who retired, once again, injured.
Roscommon made a whirlwind start to the second half with points from Kevin Higgins, Devaney, Colin Compton and Donie Smith inside the opening three minutes. But they couldn't make any further inroads, although the manner of his side's second-half display pleased Evans afterwards.
"The players showed great heart in the second half. We just lacked a bit of experience in front of goal. If we kept taking our points and showed a bit of composure, we could have got something out of the game," he stated.
After surviving Roscommon's opening flurry of scores in the second period, Meath always did enough to keep their noses in front. Cian Ward, Peadar Byrne, Kevin Reilly and Paddy Gilsenan added scores to confirm their side's victory, a result that left Meath selector Trevor Giles relieved afterwards.
"Both teams needed a win today. Thankfully we got there in the end," he said. "It would have been a struggle without the goals. It was nice to have that nine-point cushion because Roscommon hit four quick points after half-time. The division is tight enough still."
Man of the match: C Devaney (Roscommon)
SCORERS – Meath: K Reilly 1-1, C Ward 0-4 (2f), G Reilly 1-0, B Newman 0-2 (2f), D Larkin, C Lenihan, P Byrne, P Gilsenan 0-1 each. Roscommon: C Devaney 0-5, K Higgins, D Smith (1f) 0-2 each, D Shine (1f), C Compton, S Oates 0-1 each.
MEATH - P O'Rourke 8; D Keogan 6, B Menton 6, S Curran 5; C Lenihan 7, E Harrington 6, D Dalton 6; C Gillespie 7, K Reilly 7; D Larkin 7, G Reilly 7, P Byrne 7; C Ward 8, S Bray 5, M Newman 5. Subs: E Wallace 6 for Newman (30), B Dillon 5 for Curran (50), B Meade 5 for G Reilly (52), P Gilsenan 5 for Bray (52), J Queeney 5 for Byrne (68).
ROSCOMMON - G Claffey 5; N Collins 5, N Carty 6, S McDermott 5; P Brogan 5, N Daly 7, C Daly 6; M Finneran 6, C Shine 5; C Cregg 6, D Shine 5, K Higgins 7; D Smith 6, D O'Gara 5, C Devaney 9. Subs: D Keenan 6 for D Shine (14), C Compton 6 for Brogan (h-t), D McDermott 5 for O'Gara (57), S Oates 5 for Cregg (61), J McKeague 5 for McDermott (68).
REF - N Cullen (Fermanagh)