O'Dowd demands more after early blitz floors DCU
Meath 4-18 DCU 3-6
Three-goal opening salvo decisive for Meath but boss insists 'shooting needs to improve'
Meath supporters won't race to the bookies to put big money on their team for the Leinster or All-Ireland championships yet, but they can be pleased with their early-season form.
DCU came to Navan on a high after ousting the Dubs last Sunday, but they were brought down to earth with a resounding thump yesterday.
And while it was a seven-goal game, this O'Byrne Cup semi-final never reached 'thriller' status because of Meath's dominance.
Mick O'Dowd's team were faster, slicker and more ruthless than their college opponents and now look forward to a joust with holders Kildare in the final next Sunday.
The Meath manager's satisfaction at the scoring rate and overall performance of the 21 players he used was tempered by the three defiant blows DCU struck at the heart of his defence.
In truth, the DCU goals -- one in the first half by Conor McGraynor and two in the last 11 minutes by sub Jack Brady and corner-forward Conor McHugh -- were little more than window-dressing.
Meath totally deserved their 15-point winning margin, but O'Dowd is on a mission to get his side as competitive as possible in advance of the league and will look for a better defensive display against Kildare.
"It was a good scoreline, but our shooting, especially judging by the first half, we have a bit to improve on there," said O'Dowd.
"That, and probably the concession of goals in the second half, they are all areas to work on, but overall it was quite a good performance.
"I'd qualify everything by saying we have played three college teams and only one county team, and that was Wicklow.
"It (O'Byrne Cup) is a pre-season tournament and it is important that players who are training hard get action."
His players, a mixture of older hands and young prospects, were all-action from the start. Within 20 minutes they had scored 3-4, with the goal tally compiled by Cillian O'Sullivan (two) and Andrew Tormey (penalty). It could have been worse because the home side also missed the target four times.
DCU weren't having much joy at all. At that 20-minute mark, they had only 1-1 on the board, and had already made three substitutions.
One of those was enforced, as Galway U-21 All-Ireland winner Tom Flynn received a black card after 10 minutes for obstructing an opponent.
Flynn was a loss to DCU, although his replacement, Eoin O'Connor, toiled manfully. The problem was that Meath were rampant all over the pitch.
DCU manager Niall Moyna admitted as much afterwards, saying: "They were stronger, better. No excuses. We were thoroughly beaten in every facet of the game by a better team on the day."
At half-time, Meath led by 3-8 to 1-3, and the only question was whether they would ease up in the second half.
No such luck for DCU. Mickey Newman came on at half-time for Graham Reilly, and kicked the first score of the second half in the 36th minute from a free.
Paddy Gilsenan added another point a minute later.
DCU were awarded a 39th-minute penalty after a goalmouth scramble following a high ball hoisted into the danger area by sub Gary Kelly.
A goal then would have raised the college boys' spirits but it was not to be, as McHugh hit the ball high and wide.
It was unfortunate for McHugh, who battled hard all through and eventually scored DCU's third goal two minutes from the end for a personal tally of 1-3.
After the penalty miss, it was business as usual. Meath kept flowing forward, while DCU counter-attacked as often as they were allowed, but they were only playing for pride.
There were good performances all round for Meath, and Cillian O'Sullivan, David Bray, Reilly while he was on the pitch, and Dalton McDonagh showed up well in the forwards.
Shane O'Rourke and Andy Tormey dominated the middle third, and Davy Dalton and Eoghan Harrington were at the heart of the best defensive work carried out by Meath.
That said, goalie Paddy O'Rourke was left exposed on more than the three occasions that led to DCU goals -- he pulled off a couple of fine saves from close-range shots.
DCU 'keeper James Farrelly likewise didn't have much chance with the penalty and the three other goals scored by Meath, but he made a good save from David Bray in the second half. Michael Quinn, Conor McGraynor and the ever-busy McHugh were the pick of the DCU side.
As for the biting allegations arising from last Sunday's game with Dublin, Moyna was not engaging in speculation.
"It wasn't an issue all week. It hasn't been mentioned in the squad since last Sunday. It's being dealt with by the management of the GAA club so I've no comment to make at this stage," he said.
Scorers -- Meath: C O'Sullivan 2-2 (0-2fs), D Bray 1-2, A Tormey 1-1 (1-0 pen), M Newman 0-4 (2fs, 1 '45'), D McDonagh 0-3, D Carroll 0-2 (1 '45'), G Reilly, P Gilsenan, P McKeever, D Larkin 0-1 each. DCU: C McHugh 1-3 (1f), C McGraynor 1-0, J Brady 1-0, B Donnelly 0-2 (1f, 1 '45'), G Kelly 0-1f.
Meath -- P O'Rourke; D Keogan, M Burke, D Dalton; D Tobin, E Harrington, P Gilsenan; S O'Rourke, A Tormey; C O'Sullivan, D Carroll, G Reilly; D McDonagh, D Bray, D Lenihan. Subs: M Newman for G Reilly (h-t), B McMahon for D Lenihan (51), P McKeever for D McDonagh (53), C Sheridan for A Tormey (58), C Young for D Tobin (58), D Larkin for S O'Rourke (66).
DCU -- J Farrelly; W Lowry, C Dunleavy, C Cafferkey; E Murray, D Byrne, P Dooney; T Flynn, B Donnelly; C McHugh, P Fox, M Quinn; M McCarthy, C McGraynor, D Wrynn. Subs: E O'Connor for T Flynn (11, BC), G Kelly for M McCarthy (17), C Ward for W Lowry (20), E Smith for P Fox (25), J Brady for E Smith (42), F Kelly for K Ward (45).
Ref -- N Ward (Westmeath)