Meath …………. 0-16
Westmeath ….. 0-15
A massive impact from a flurry of late game substitutions saw the home side take the points in this division two clash at Pairc Tailtean yesterday.
However, a one point win over the near neighbours who were a division three side quite recently does not indicate any signs of progress for Andy McEntee’s side.
In fairness to the manager, he did make judicious use of the bench and perhaps the late rally is assign the squad possesses more strength in depth than in recent seasons.
The Royals outscored Westmeath by 0-7 to 0-2 from the 50th minute with four subs contributing the fresh legs giving added impetus to the team when it was most needed.
Westmeath were not helped by the sin binning of midfielder Sam Duncan following his black card in the 50th minute. Jack Cooney’s side were clinging to a slender lead when he returned.
Goalkeeper Andy Colgan’s 68th minute free brought the sides level before points from Ratoath subs Bryan McMahon and Eamon Wallace earned Meath the lead that saw them home.
The first half produced some decent football, even if it was more a case of the excitement levels rising because neither side could establish superiority, after all a close contest leaves a more lasting impression on a spectator than a one sided romp.
An early Cillian O’Sullivan point was the half stand out score but the real damning stat for the winners came in the wides tally in that opening period, seven first-half wides in a time span that saw Westmeath missing just two.
Such dominance in the accuracy stakes didn’t actually reflect itself in the half time scoreline which saw Westmeath just single score, 0-8 to 0-7 in front.
The men in maroon went four clear with twenty minutes left but went into reverse gear after that.
Next up for Meath is a clash with Down in Armagh a game that will surely reveal more about the real state of McEntee’s team a win there will leave them facing Mayo on the last day of the shortened campaign with top spot at stake, but a defeat by the Mourne men will leave them fighting to retain division two status.
Back in the day when Meath were kingpins one of their hallmarks was an ability to win when it looked certain they wouldn’t, that trait re-emerged yesterday.
One positive sign on a day that posed many questions.
Scorers: Meath – Jordan Morris 0-3 (2fs), Cillian O’Sullivan (1 forward mark), Bryan McMahon 0-2 each; Thomas O’Reilly, Matthew Costello, Darragh Campion, Eoin Harkin, Eamon Wallace, James Conlon, Fionn Reilly, Shane McEntee, Bryan Menton 0-1each.
Westmeath – John Heslin 0-7 (5fs), Luke Loughlin 0-3 (2 45s), Ger Egan 0-2; Ray Connellan, Luke Loughlin, Ronan O’Toole 0-1 each.
Meath – Andy Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Ronan Ryan; Eoin Harkin, Shane McEntee (C), Donal Keogan; Bryan Menton, Padraic Harnan; Ethan Devine, Darragh Campion, Matthew Costello; Jordan Morris, Thomas O’Reilly, Cillian O’Sullivan. Subs – Bryan McMahon for O’Reilly (ht), James Conlon for Campion (ht), James Scully for Costello (51), Fionn Reilly for Harkin (51), Eamon Wallace for Devine (59), Jack O’Connor for Morris (67), David Dillon for O’Sullivan (70). Black card – Ronan Ryan (70)
Westmeath – Jason Daly; Jack Smith, Kevin Maguire (C), Boidu Sayeh; James Dolan, Ronan Wallace, James Gounod; Sam Duncan, Ray Connellan; David Lynch, Denis Corroon, Ger Egan; Ronan O’Toole, John Heslin, Luke Loughlin. Subs – Lorcan Dolan for Smith (54), Lorcan Dolan for Kieran Martin for Lynch (63), Brandon Kelly for Egan (64). Black card – Sam Duncan (50)
Referee – Brendan Cawley (Kildare)