Meath…………….4-22

Longford………….0-12

 

Will the real Meath team please stand up.

We’ve been here before, last years Leinster SFC saw Andy McEntee’s side score 12 goals in their first two games, against Wicklow and Kildare, before failing to show up against the Dubs.

This year maybe they are doing things in reverse order as after failing to put in a performance against Kildar in the league promotion play off they blitzed Longford for four goals in Navan yesterday and effectively put the tie to bed with a scoring spree just before half time.

Combined with seeing Dublin failing to record a double digit win in Leinster for the first time in an age, when beating Wexford, Meath should approach the semi final with the long reigning kingpins in two weeks with a spring in their step and in a confident mood.

But will they or will the defensive shields come down once more.

That discussion is for another day as first of all McEntee has to be congratulated for clearing the mental baggage of that no show against Kildare from his players minds before yesterday.

Goal-hungry, Meath bounced back from their Allianz League disappointment to secure a Leinster SFC semi-final spot with the minimum of fuss .

Goals from captain Shane McEntee, top scorer Jordan Morris, who tallied 1-04, rising star Cathal Hickey and substitute James Conlon sealed an all too easy 22-point win for the 2019 and 2020 provincial finalists.

Afterwards, Longford manager Padraic Davis confirmed his departure from the role after three seasons.

Longford kept pace with Meath, a Division 1 team as recently as 2020, for almost 30 minutes but were burned off by scoring bursts of 1-05 and 1-04 from the hosts either side of half-time.

The manager chose to watch the entire game from the press box and will have been pleased by the strong performance with a dozen different scorers.

His son Shane and nephew James scored 1-04 between them, with James coming on as a sub and kicking four long-range points.

The availability of both Bryan Menton and Donal Keogan, the team’s 2020 joint captains, was a major boost having picked up ankle and shoulder injuries respectively in the loss to Kildare.

Neither was initially named to start but to nobody’s great surprise, least of all Longford’s, they did as both along with Joey Wallace were late additions to the line up, with Menton a key performer at midfield alongside Ethan Devine.

Meath looked the more likely winners even in the first quarter but six wides undermined their efforts and they held a slim 1-03 to 0-04 lead at the water break.

Captain McEntee’s goal came just over 90 seconds into the contest when he got on the end of a move down the left and blasted to the roof of the net.prove that whatever else he might be he is not James Ownes.

Kevin Diffley was hauled down by Ronan Ryan, leaving referee Ciaran Branagan to prove he is not James Owens, he didn’t take long to consider the obvious, that it was not a penalty and black card correctly awarding a free which Robbie Smyth pointed.

The teams split four points evenly between each other after the water break, with David McGivney converting a 28th-minute free won by Gallagher.

Longford, just two points behind, didn’t score again until the third minute of the second half as Meath took over completely.

A burst of 1-05 without reply from there until half-time virtually put the result beyond doubt as the Royals put together a series of penetrating passing moves.

Morris scored 1-01 in this period, dusting himself down after a huge hit from Andrew Farrell to register the game’s second goal in stoppage time, palming in at the back post from Bryan McMahon’s ball across after a Longford kick-out was turned over further out the field.

Leading 2-10 to 0-06 at half-time, Meath reeled off another 1-04 without reply between the 42nd and 54th minutes to take control of proceedings.

Underage star Hickey got Meath’s third goal after a clever one-two with McMahon and sub Conlon fired the fourth in the 70th minute after good work in the build-up from Michael Newman and Eamon Wallace.

Meath: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Ronan Ryan, Donal Keogan; Cathal Hickey (1-02), Shane McEntee (1-00), Fionn Reilly (0-01); Ethan Devine, Bryan Menton (0-01); Padraic Harnan, Bryan McMahon (0-04, 0-01f), Mathew Costello (0-01, 0-01 45); Jordan Morris (1-04, 0-01f), Cillian O’Sullivan (0-03), Joey Wallace (0-01).

Subs: Eamon Wallace (0-01) for Menton 46, James McEntee (0-04) for Hickey 54, Michael Newman for Morris 54, Jack O’Connor for Reilly 61, James Conlon (1-00) for Costello 61.

Longford: Paddy Collum; Patrick Fox, Enda Macken, Andrew Farrell; Iarla O’Sullivan, Michael Quinn, Daniel Mimnagh; Kevin Diffley (0-01), Darren Gallagher (0-01, 0-01f); Dessie Reynolds (0-01), David McGivney (0-03, 0-03f), Donal McElligott; Robbie Smyth (0-01, 0-01f), Joseph Hagan (0-01, 0-01m), Rian Brady (0-03, 0-01f).

Subs: Dylan Farrell for Gallagher h/t, Oran Kenny for McElligott 53, Liam Connerton for Smyth 53, Peter Lynn for Mimnagh 53, Darragh Doherty (0-01) for O’Sullivan 58.

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down).