Clynch leads way in Royal procession
MEATH 0-17 DOWN 1-8
Meath put a turbulent week behind them by decisively beating defending champions Down in Trim.
Following suspensions imposed on manager Cillian Farrell and selector Kevin Dowd, another selector, Nick Fitzgerald, took charge along the sideline.
Farrell, an 1998 All-Ireland winner with Offaly, shouted support from the balcony.
Meath captain Steven Clynch spearheaded the surprise success with an inspirational display of point-scoring.
Clynch put over the first point from a placed ball and the hosts were never headed from then to the finish. They would not have been flattered by a wider winning margin as they hit 17 wides in all.
Still, Meath were only on level terms (0-8 to 1-5) at the break, with Daniel Toner finding the net for Down.
The Royals refused to be ruffled and resumed brightly with points from Clynch and former county footballer Caoimhin King to set up an impressive second-half showing.
Three points from Willie McGrath around the three-quarter mark conclusively put the game out of Down's reach.
Scorers – Meath: S Clynch 0-8 (6fs), W McGrath 0-3, S Morris, C King 0-2 each, D Reilly, J Toher 0-1 each. Down: D Toner 1-1, P Sheehan 0-3 (f), B Nicholson, D Hughes, C O'Prey, C Woods (f) 0-1 each.
Meath – C Bird; C Reilly, N McLoughlin, D Donoghue; P Farrell, J Toher, S Whitty; D Reilly, S Morris; S Clynch, J Meyler, D Healy; W McGrath, C King, S Heavey. Subs: D Doran for Meyler (44), J Regan for Healy (70).
Down – S Keith; M Conlan, P Flynn, M Hughes; B Nicholson, C Woods, R Brannigan; S Ennis, C O'Prey; D Toner, D Hughes, P Sheehan; M Turley, S Nicholson, J Coyle. Subs: M Ennis for Turley (48), P Hughes for Conlan (64).
Ref – J Heffernan (Wexford)