O'Callaghan goal rare bright spot as Dublin claim ninth Leinster title in a row with facile victory over Meath
Dublin 1-17 Meath 0-4
A grey Leinster Final on a grey day at Croke Park was going to need something special to brighten it up.
And it was worth waiting for Con O'Callaghan's brilliant late goal that was a gracenote to a very poor match as Dublin toyed in the second half with the county that was once their greatest rival.
Dublin now march on to the Super 8s where the will face Roscommon and Cork and Cavan - or the teams that beat the latter pair in the qualifiers.
And with that in mind the main issue of the day could be a nasty injury to James McCarthy who limped off just before half time.
The Dubs don't play again until the weekend of July 13 and 14, so they will be hoping to get one of their key men fit again for a Super 8s match against Cork or their conquerors.
Better news on the injury front for the Dubs was the return of Dean Rock and his four points were certainly a memo to Jim Gavin - 'I want my place back.'
In his 18 minutes on the pitch, Rock's points matched the entire Meath team for the afternoon.
A wet ball, a slippery ball and hard tackling meant this was never going to be a classic. Meath came out of the traps full of effort and vim and vigour. Unfortunately, they had left their shooting boots behind them and put on an abject display of score taking.
Meath were shocking in the first half, scoring just one point. Repeatedly they tried pot shots for points from way out, not trusting their handling skills against the hard-hitting Dublin defence.
Indeed the first time any of their six starting forwards scored from play was in the 50th minute. That came from Mickey Newman and his late point was just the second score by a Royal County forward in the 76 minutes of action.
They were utterly bereft of attacking ideas, kicking the ball into Dublin hands time and again. Any of the quartet of counties who come through Round Three of the qualifiers next weekend will be hoping to get the Royals in Round Four.
Dublin led by only four points at half-time, but they had been playing into a stiff breeze and also squandered a penalty miss by Man of the Match Paul Mannion.
Once Dublin got that breeze behind them, and the Meath legs began to tire, the gaps opened up and Mannion and Rock began to feast on the chances for points.
It was soon over as a contest and Dublin ran up the scores until O'Callaghan finally blasted home the goal their display deserved.
Much has been said of late about a Tier Two Championship. What must worry the GAA is that Meath are a Division One team in the Allianz League in 2020. Yet Dublin, after labouring in the conditions and against Meath's valiant early effort, simply dismissed them.
Dublin have five games to go for glory - and they can afford to lose one of the first three. It's looking better and better for them.
Scorers- Dublin: Dean Rock 0-4 (0-1f), Cormac Costello 0-3 (0-1 45, 0-2f), Con O’Callaghan 1-0, Paul Mannion 0-3, Jack McCaffrey 0-2, Philly McMahon, Paddy Andrews, Ciaran Kilkenny, Brian Fenton and Brian Howard 0-1 each. Meath: Michael Newman 0-3 (0-1f), Bryan Menton 0-1.
Teams- Dublin- S. Cluxton; D. Byrne, M. Fitzsimons, J. McCaffrey; P. McMahon, C. O'Sullivan, J. Small; B. Fenton, J. McCarthy; N. Scully, C. Costello, B. Howard; C. Kilkenny, P. Mannion, C. O'Callaghan. Subs- MD Macauley for McCarthy 31mins D. Rock for Howard 52mins K. McManamon for Costello 59mins P. Small for Kilkenny 62mins P. Andrews for P. Small 64mins R. O'Carroll for McCaffrey 68mins
Meath- A. Colgan; S. Lavin, C. McGill, S. Gallagher; D. Keogan, R. Ryan, S. McEntee; B. Menton, G. Reilly; B. Brennan, B. McMahon, J. McEntee; C. O'Sullivan, M. Newman, J. Conlon. Subs- S. Tobin for Brennan 39mins E. Devine for Reilly 40mins T.O'Reilly for Conlon 54mins B. Dardis for S. McEntee 59mins S. Curran for Gallagher and B. McMahon for T. McGovern, both 66mins