Clynch leads Meath to an easy victory
Meath 4-21 Down 1-10
Down were stung by the Christy Ring champions in what proved a one-sided encounter at Páirc Tailteann yesterday.
The Mourne men were beaten in last year's promotion decider, but they were well off the pace in this one, as Meath made their intentions clear after 30 seconds with a goal from Kevin Keena.
A mistake from Meath keeper Shane McGann led to a Danny Toner goal and the visitors led 1-2 to 1-0 after four minutes.
However, with Steven Clynch in fine form from frees, Meath were back in front by the 16th minute and they produced some impressive play after that. Sean Quigley and Adam Gannon added goals and by half-time the hosts were ahead 3-9 to 1-6.
Three early second-half scores ended the game as a contest, with veteran Clynch taking his tally to eight points. Meath's fourth goal came from midfielder Anthony Forde on 51 minutes.
Scorers - Meath: S Clynch 0-8 (7fs), J Kelly 0-5, A Gannon, S Quigley, A Forde 1-1 each, K Keena 1-0, P Farrell 0-2 (1f), K Keoghan, D Healy, N Heffernan 0-1 each.
Down: C Bailie 0-6 (5fs), D Toner 1-0, E Sands, P Og McCrickard, D McManus, C Mageean 0-1 each.
Meath: S McGann 7; S Geraghty 7, S Whitty 7, C Reilly 7; S Brennan 7, D Healy 7, K Keoghan 7, J Keena 7, A Forde 8; S Quigley 7, C McCabe 6, J Kelly 7; S Clynch 8, A Gannon 8, K Keena 7. Subs: N Heffernan 6 for Gannon (46), P Kelly 6 for J Keena (49), G Kelly 6for Clynch (59), N Weir 5for Reilly (62), P Farrell 6 for McCabe (64).
Down: S Keith 6; P McManus 6, C O'Neill 6, M Hughes 6; C Egan 6, R Branagan 6, S Ennis 6; C Bailie 7, D McManus 6; M Ennis 6, C Teggart 6, C Mageean 6; E Sands 6, P Sheehan 6, D Toner 7. Subs: C O'Prey 6 for Teggart (33), P Og McCrickard 6 (0-1) for O'Neill (h-t), G Hughes 6 for Sheehan (40), M Magee 5 for Egan (57), M Turley 5 for Toner (66).
Ref: P Murphy (Carlow)