DUBLIN 1-17 MEATH 0-4
By Michael Devlin at Croke Park
The score-line would suggest a thrashing, but in truth, there wasn’t much between Meath and Dublin for the vast majority of this Leinster SFC final.
Meath will deplore their wide count, 12 to Dublin’s five. They were dogged in defence but listless in attack in an error-ridden first half, with both teams only creating eight scoring chances from play in a caustic opening 35 minutes.
That poor shooting continued into the second half for the Royals, and Dublin eventually found the right gear to run up a sixteen-point winning lead and collect their ninth consecutive Leinster title.
The Royals were matching Dublin step-for-step in midfield and defence early on but couldn’t convert their combativeness to scores on the board. Dublin meanwhile were far from vintage, but they eventually cut through for the game’s first score in the 11th minute from Ciaran Kilkenny. Jack McCaffrey used his searing pace to race through and add a second shortly after.
Cormac Costello and Paul Mannion caused torment to Kildare in the semi-final, and the duo both opened their accounts to put Dublin four up by the 15th minute, Brian Howard following up with a point from play soon after.
Con O’Callaghan was Dublin’s only forward yet to score, and the Cuala man had a sight of goal as he bore through the Meath defence, only to be dragged back as he lined up the shot. Referee Sean Hurson awarded a penalty, but Mannion’s effort cannoned off the base of Andrew Colgan’s left upright.
In the 32nd minute Meath finally broke their duck, Bryan Menton landing a score from distance. The teams went in at the break with the score at a lowly 0-5 to 0-1, although Meath should have been closer only for six wides.
Meath’s shooting hadn’t improved any after the interval, and they spurned several opportunities to land the first score of the second half. Instead it was Jack McCaffrey who supplied it for the Dubs with a fisted point, before Costello added a 45’ to extend their lead to six.
Micky Newman raised the white flag for Meath’s second score of the day in the 44th minute, but Costello followed up with one of his own before Philly McMahon roved up the field to split the posts from distance.
Newman took on the blue defence and was rewarded with a score, but Dublin broke the ten-point threshold when Mannion landed over a fine score off his left in the 51st minute, before Brian Fenton finished off a measured move with a point.
Dean Rock marked his introduction onto the field with a pointed free, after Mannion had chipped over his third of the afternoon as Dublin began to put daylight between the sides. The Ballymun man added two more from play soon after as the game entered its final ten minutes.
Paddy Andrews also came off the bench to get on the scoresheet, before the game was well and truly put to bed when O’Callaghan found room to bury the ball in the Meath net.
Rock’s fourth point of his short afternoon brought Dublin to 1-8 on the trot, that run eventually brought to an end when Newman finished off a rare Meath attack with a point.
The rain began to drizzle down, but it wouldn’t dampen a satisfactory afternoon for Jim Gavin’s men who tightened their grip on the Delaney Cup.
Dublin scorers: Dean Rock 0-4 (1f), Paul Mannion 0-3, Cormac Costello 0-3 (2 45’s 1f), Con O’Callaghan 1-0, Jack McCaffrey 0-2, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-1, Brian Howard 0-1, Philly McMahon 0-1, Brian Fenton 0-1, Paddy Andrews 0-1.
Meath scorers: Mickey Newman 0-3 (1f), Bryan Menton 0-1.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; David Byrne, Michael Fitzsimons, Jack McCaffrey; James McCarthy, Cian O’Sullivan, John Small; Brian Fenton, Philly McMahon; Niall Scully, Cormac Costello, Brian Howard; Ciaran Kilkenny, Paul Mannion, Con O’Callaghan.
SUBS: Michael Darragh MacAuley for J. McCarthy (28), Dean Rock for B. Howard (52), Kevin McManamon for Costello (58), Paddy Small for C. Kilkenny (61), Paddy Andrews for P. Small (64), Rory O’Carroll for J. McCaffrey 67).
MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Shane Gallagher; Donal Keogan, Ronan Ryan, Graham Reilly; Bryan Menton, Shane McEntee; Ben Brennan, Bryan McMahon, James McEntee; Cillian O’Sullivan; Michael Newman, James Conlon.
SUBS: Sean Tobin for B. Brennan (38), Ethan Devine for G. Reilly (40), Thomas O’Reilly for J. Conlon (52), Barry Dardis for J. McEntee (57), Sean Curran for S. Gallagher (65), Thomas McGovern for B. MacMahon (65).