Gilroy reign off to a flyer as Dubs run riot against outgunned Royals
Dublin 4-17 Meath 0-14
A new dawn for Dublin hurling came to pass on a bitterly cold night in the GAA’s National Development Centre in Abbotstown as Pat Gilroy’s reign as manager began with a deserved win over neighbours Meath.
This was the first meeting of the sides in senior hurling since Dublin won a league encounter in Navan’s Páirc Tailteann in 2002.
From the outset it was clear this game would game follow a similar path.
Gilroy’s appointment as hurling boss has attracted considerable attention over the winter months given his largely football background.
And a few hundred hardy souls packed the stand at Abbotstown to see his side out-gun the Royals from pillar to post.
To this point, he had only seen his side in Super 11s action in Boston’s Fenway Park but despite conceding the first score of the game, when Anthony Forde opened Meath’s account, Dublin would soon assert their authority on proceedings.
Gilroy’s men were 0-6 to 0-3 up after nine minutes as Meath looked to stay in touch. However, two of Dublin’s more experienced players on the night in Paul Winters and Fergal Whitley were causing the Meath defence huge trouble.
However, the Royals also weren’t helping themselves.
A sloppy pass at midfield saw Dublin find Robbie McMahon in an acre of space and he fired to the net for the game’s first goal.
Dublin were generally on top but Meath, who count Kilkenny legends Michael Kavanagh and Martin Comerford amongst their backroom team for the coming season, had their moments.
However, it wasn’t enough to halt Dublin’s gallop and they soon grabbed their second goal. This time Fionn Ó Riain Broin capitalised on a mix-up in the Meath defence to bat home from close range.
That score knocked some of the fire out of Meath, for whom this was officially a home game, and Dublin would eventually take a 2-11 to 0-7 lead in at the break which seemed an accurate reflection of their dominance.
The second half would follow a similar pattern to the first. Meath, who already had a win under their belt in the competition after they beat Antrim last weekend, kept trying with Jack Regan leading the resistance with some fine efforts from placed balls.
However, Dublin would find the net two more times before the game ended to run out deserved winners as Gilroy’s journey with the hurlers got off to a winning start.
Dublin face Tipperary in a challenge in Dr Morris Park in Thurles on Saturday before taking on Antrim in the Walsh Cup a day later.
Scorers - Dublin: P Winters 0-9 (6f, 1 65), F O Riain Broin 2-1, F Whitely 0-4, R McMahon 1-0, C McBride 1-0, A Moore 0-3, C Costello 0-1. Meath: J Regan 0-6 (5 fs), J Kelly 0-3, A Forde, J Toher (f), P Conneely, N Heffernan, E Marsh 0-1 each.
Dublin – A Nolan; P Smyth, B O’Carroll, C Hendricken; S Barrett, D Kelly, C Crummey; J McCaffrey, T Connolly, R McMahon, F Whitely, C Costello; A Moore, P Winters, F O Riain Broin. Subs: C McBride for McMahon (h-t), S O Riain for McCaffrey (44), D Gray for Whitely (50).
MEATH – S McGann; C Lynch, D Healy, S Brennan; D Kelly, J Regan, K Keoghan; A Forde, M O’Grady; J Kelly, J Keena, J Toher; A Gannon, P Connelly, N Heffernan. Subs: P Kelly for Brennan (h-t), S McGrath for O’Grady (42), E Marsh for Forde (45), S O’Hanrahan for Connelly (56).
REF – D Hughes (Carlow).
Other Walsh Cup results: Kilkenny 6-24 Laois 1-11;
Hollymount: Wexford 1-20 Carlow 0-18;