Meath romp home as Carlow suffer again from indiscipline
Meath 2-18 Carlow 0-9
Hope is essential for any county embarking on a championship journey, but Carlow's reserves are severely diminished after a thumping defeat from Meath at Portlaoise on Saturday.
Already dealing with suspensions to their manager, coach and experienced midfielder Brendan Murphy, they suffered further losses, with injury finishing Paul Broderick after just 14 minutes and then a red card dismissal for Sean Murphy with just over 50 minutes played.
By the time of Murphy's departure, dismissed for taking a swing at Meath's Donal Keogan, Carlow were eight points down and a beaten side. But they would still conspire to lose Daniel St Ledger and Eoghan Ruth to black cards during the remaining time, relying on a brilliant penalty save by Robert Sansom from Mickey Newman's effort in the 60th minute to avoid a deeper embarrassment.
Having enriched last year's provincial championship with a celebrated win over Kildare, this season has been something of a nightmare for Carlow. Relegation in the League was compounded by a 20-week ban for manager Turlough O'Brien, which meant he watched the game from the stands, along with the suspended coach Stephen Poacher. Murphy, their marauding midfielder, now joins the list of the banned.
The referee who cited O'Brien and his colleagues which led to their suspensions, James Bermingham, was a linesman for the Dublin v Louth match which followed Meath's emphatic victory. Poacher did not mince his words when speaking afterwards. He said: "The suspension was absolutely ludicrous. I never spoke about it but there was plenty of media coverage in the build-up to today."
He took issue with the findings. "The crime didn't fit the punishment. I don't want to go into details but any sane human being that would have watched the video and read the referee's report would know that. I'd describe it as laughable."
Meath have never lost to Carlow in the championship, and crushed them by 28 points only five years ago. This wasn't on that scale and for the best part of half an hour Carlow were well in contention. Then two goals in three minutes sealed their fate.
Meath went four points up after 11 minutes, before Carlow steadily improved, two fine points from Darragh Foley signalling their rising ambition. John Murphy opened their account in the 12th minute and by the 24th they were level at 0-4 a piece. "For a while we got sloppy," said Meath manager Andy McEntee, "and they punished us and got some good scores."
But it did not last. Meath hit back with two scores on the bounce from Ben Brennan and then Keogan was involved in setting up goals for Newman and an outstanding Padraic Harnan in the 29th and 32nd minutes. By half time they led 2-7 to 0-4.
Bryan Menton had a huge match for Meath, and Keogan and Shane Gallagher also stood out. It was a big improvement on the shaky opening win over Offaly. "It was much better than the last day," McEntee agreed.
Scorers - Meath: M Newman 1-6 (4f), P Harnan 1-0, J Conlon 0-3; B Brennan (1f), B Menton, G Reilly 0-2 each, T O'Reilly, S Gallagher, C O'Sullivan 0-1 each. Carlow: D Foley 0-3 (1f), D Walshe (2f, 1 '45) 0-3 each, J Murphy, S Murphy, E Ruth 0-1 each.
Meath - A Colgan 7; S Gallagher 8, C McGill 8, S Lavin 7; D Keogan 9, P Harnan 9, G McCoy 8; B Menton 9, A Flanagan 7; C O'Sullivan 8, B McMahon 7, B Brennan 7; S Tobin 6, M Newman 7, T O'Reilly 7. Subs: B Dardis 6 for O'Reilly (34); G Reilly 8 for Tobin (51); R Ryan 7 for McCoy (55); D Campion 7 for O'Sullivan (60); J Conlon 8 for Brennan (65); E Devine 6 for Menton (69).
Carlow - R Sansom 8; L Roberts 6, S Redmond 6, C Lawlor 6; J Morrissey 7, D St Ledger 6, C Moran 6; S Murphy 6, E Ruth 6; D O'Brien 6, S Gannon 7, C Doyle 6; P Broderick 5, D Foley 7, J Murphy 7. Subs: D Walshe 7 for Broderick (inj, 14); C Crowley 6 for O'Brien & B Kavanagh 7 for Lawlor (ht); D Moran 6 for St Ledger (b/c 52); J Murphy 6 for Ruth (b/c 60); D Lunney 6 for J Murphy (61).
Ref - B Cassidy (Derry).