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Dessie Farrell’s Dublin crush Meath and march into Leinster final

Dublin 1-27 Meath 1-14
Cormac Costello of Dublin in action against Robin Clarke of Meath

Cormac Costello of Dublin in action against Robin Clarke of Meath

Colm Keys

For the second successive year Meath 'won' the second half of a Leinster football semi-final against Dublin.

But any source of comfort that they might derive from such an outcome would be wildly misplaced as this was nothing else other than a rout that Dublin lost interest in a long way from home.

Fifteen points down at half-time, Meath were 17 down at one stage early in the second half but had got it back to 13 by the end.

Unlike last year though there were few tell-tale signs of broader Dublin erosion as they played with precision and confidence until even they stopped pretending that this was a contest.

After a six-point win in the corresponding game last year this felt like normal service was resumed, even if Dublin got sloppy in the second half.

But in an atmosphere when the result was well beyond doubt from an early stage and the resistance was limited, disengaging the 38,018 crowd completely, that was to be expected.

No one pretends that this is even close to a rivalry any more and and from early on it was evident that the gap was heading back out to where it was in 2019 and 2020 when Dublin won by 17 and 21 points respectively.

For long spells it was target practice for Dublin and they got their eye in with impressive accuracy. They looked a lot more like the 2015-2019 version of the team that had such an iron grip on the game than they were in 2021. But again, the quality of the opposition has to be factored in.

From 18 first half shots they scored 17 points, most executed without any real pressure put on them.

Twice James McCarthy broke upfield and kicked over without a green shirt near him.

Ciaran Kilkenny, Con O'Callaghan, Cormac Costello and Tom Lahiff also poured in at will while Lorcan O'Dell, enjoying a first championship start, nipped for two points also.

Dean Rock got the first half goal from a penalty after O'Callaghan was fouled by his marker Eoin Harkin after he had gathered a speculative Fenton ball into the danger area.

It was the type of ball Dublin were willing to try from time to time.

In contrast Meath played cautiously as they sought openings that were rarely there.

Early on Ronan Jones threaded through a fine ball and Jordan Morris found himself inside one on one with Mick Fitzsimons. But Fitzsimons did enough to keep Morris on his weaker right foot and his shot trickled wide at the far post.

A goal could have at least delayed the inevitable but by the 10th minute Dublin were five points up without a response which only came from Bryan Menton in the 13th minute.

Briefly Meath got it to three points when Morris, from a free, and Thomas O'Reilly pointed to make it 0-6 to 0-3 on 17 minutes.

But Dublin piled it on in the second quarter and were rampant on the Meath kick-out, deriving much of their momentum from the pressure they were able to exert on that.

By the break it was 1-17 to 0-5.

Meath did get a better foothold in the second half with Menton bringing his tally to three points and a late penalty from Morris, after Matthew Costello was fouled, cut further into Dublin's lead.

But there was indiscipline too with substitute Jack Flynn and Morris both shown straight red cards.

For Dublin Mick Fitzsimons was yellow carded for fouling Costello for the penalty, his second resulting in his dismissal.

No doubt, Dublin are in far better shape than they were at the corresponding stage last year and even a 13-point win scarcely reflects how dominant they were or how well they played in the first half.

SCORERS

Dublin: D Rock 1-8 (1-0 pen, 5fs, 1 45), C Kilkenny 0-5, C Costello 0-3, C O'Callaghan, T Lahiff, L O'Dell, J McCarthy all 0-2 each, S Bugler, B Howard, P Small (m) all 0-1 each.

Meath: J Morris 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-2fs) B Menton, J O'Connor (2fs) 0-3 each, J Wallace, T O'Reilly, S McEntee, J Flynn, D Keogan all 0-1 each.

TEAMS

Dublin: E Comerford: E Murchan, M Fitzsimons, L Gannon; J Small, B Howard, J McCarthy; B Fenton, T Lahiff; S Bugler, L O'Dell, C Kilkenny; C Costello, D Rock, C O'Callaghan. Subs: J Cooper for Murchan (50), N Scully for O Dell (55), P Small for O'Callaghan (55), S Clayton for Fenton (62)

Meath: H Hogan; E Harkin, C McGill, R Clarke; D Keogan, R Ryan, J McEntee; B Menton, R Jones; C O'Sullivan, T O'Reilly, J O'Connor; J Morris, M Costello, J Wallace. Subs C Hickey for McEntee (h-t)S Walsh for O'Reilly (h-t), S McEntee for Ryan (h-t), J Flynn for Jones (43), B McMahon for O'Sullivan (58), B O'Leary for Costello (67)

Referee: D O'Mahoney (Tipperary)


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