O'Dowd shocked by dismal Meath display in opener
Galway 2-13 Meath 1-12
Meath manager Mick O'Dowd admitted he was shocked by how poor his side was in the opening half at Pearse Stadium in Salthill.
The Royals, despite scoring after just 45 seconds, found themselves 1-5 to 0-1 down after 14 minutes, and by the interval they managed just one point from play.
And while they hauled Galway back somewhat in during the second half, they never got back on level terms and a late, scrambled goal flattered them on a day when the Tribesmen produced the better football.
Indeed, the margin in the end could have been huge had Galway been able to keep their foot on the pedal and new manager Kevin Walsh will look for them to be more ruthless.
But he has made an encouraging start whereas O'Dowd must now get Meath to regroup to take on neighbours Kildare next Saturday night when both of them will be going for their first points and in such a tight division, relegation concerns will be the primary focus for the losers of next weekend's game.
"It was a shocking performance," admitted O'Dowd. "We went 20 minutes without scoring after winning a free in the first minute. That's not acceptable.
"I'm at a bit of a loss because we prepared well for the last 13 weeks. We came down the night before and we thought we were ready to put in a performance like that is disappointing."
They were blown away in the opening quarter by Galway's slick passing and quick movement and after wing-back Paul Varley cancelled Mickey Newman's opening minute score, the Tribesmen pulled away with a couple of points each from Eddie Hoare and the impressive Danny Cummins.
Meath looked set for a hammering when Cummins finished to the net after a good build-up involving Tom Flynn, Paul Varley and Sean Denvir, but the sting went out of the Galway challenge and they managed just one more point to the interval.
Meath could only land one point from play in the opening half - that came from wing-back Bryan Menton - with goalkeeper Paddy O'Rourke going forward to convert a '45 as they reduced the gap to 1-6 to 0-5 by the break.
O'Rourke kept Meath in the game in the third quarter when he saved from Hoare from point-blank range before going forward to land a couple of frees.
Stephen Bray became the first Meath forward to score from play when he pointed after 46 minutes and he reduced the margin to a goal shortly afterwards.
The decisive moment came 15 minutes from time when Bray put Newman through with only goalkeeper Brian O'Donoghue to beat but he blasted over.
Galway reacted superbly to the let-off with Shane Walsh taking control, hitting a couple of points before finishing with a low shot to the net after good approach work from Hoare and impressive sub Patrick Sweeney.
Jamie Queeney got a late consolation goal for Meath but Galway ran out deserving winners and new manager Kevin Walsh said that while promotion was a target, getting consistency into his side was the key.
"Of course we want to get back to Division 1 but at the end of the day we need to make sure that players know what they're doing, they have to work hard together and the results will take care of themselves. It's important for us to get a team playing so that every single time we play, we're competitive," said Walsh. Man of the Match: Paul Varley
Scorers - Galway: S Walsh 1-3 (1f); D Cummins 1-3; E Hoare (1f) & P Varley 0-2 each; F Ó Curraoin, S Denvir & A Varley 0-1 each . Meath: M Newman 0-5 (4f); J Queeney 1-0; P O'Rourke 0-3 (2f, 1 '45); S Bray 0-2; B Menton & G Reilly 0-1 each.
Galway - B O'Donoghue 7; D O'Neill 6, C Forde 7, C Sweeney 6; P Varley 8, G Bradshaw 6, G O'Donnell 7; F Ó Curraoin 7, T Flynn 7; E Tierney 6, E Hoare 7, S Denvir 7; D Cummins 8, A Varley 6, S Walsh 7. Subs: P Sweeney 7 for A Varley (58), M Martin 6 for Hoare (65), C Mulryan 6 for Cummins (68), D Kyne 6 for P Varley (BC, 69).
Meath - P O'Rourke 7; D Tobin 6, C McGill 6, M Burke 5; P Harnan 6, D Keogan 6, B Menton 7; H Rooney 5, A Flanagan 5; G Reilly 6, S Bray 6, A Tormey 5; B McMahon 5, M Newman 6, J Wallace 5. Subs: D Carroll 6 for McMahon (h-t), J Queeney 6 for Tormey (BC, 49), D Dalton 6 for Harnan (63), S Tobin 5 for Wallace (63), C McConnell 5 for D Tobin (66).
Ref - P O'Sullivan (Kerry)