Normal service for Dublin resumes as Dessie Farrell’s men crush Meath and invade the Leinster Finals
For the second year in a row, Meath ‘won’ the second half of a Leinster football semi-final against Dublin.
But any source of consolation they could draw from such a result would be utterly misplaced as this was nothing but a defeat Dublin lost interest in far from home.
Fifteen points down at half-time, Meath was 17 points down at the start of the second half but had made it back to 13 by the end.
Unlike last year, however, there were few telltale signs of a broader Dublin erosion as they played with precision and confidence until even they stopped pretending it was a competition.
After a six-point win in the equivalent game last year, it felt like a return to normal service, even if Dublin got sloppy in the second half.
But in an atmosphere where the outcome was beyond doubt from the outset and opposition was limited and the 38,018 spectators were stunned, that was to be expected.
No one pretends this is remotely a rivalry anymore and it was clear from the start that the gap was narrowing back to where it was in 2019 and 2020 when Dublin won by 17 and 21 points respectively.
It’s been target practice for Dublin for a long time and they hit the eye with impressive accuracy. They looked a lot more like the 2015-2019 version of the team that held the game as steadfastly as they were in 2021. But again, the quality of the opponent must be taken into account.
They scored 17 points from 18 shots in the first half, most of which were executed without any real pressure being put on them.
Twice James McCarthy broke up in top field and crossed over without a green shirt nearby.
Ciaran Kilkenny, Con O’Callaghan, Cormac Costello and Tom Lahiff also poured in at will, while Lorcan O’Dell, enjoying his maiden championship start, also picked up two points.
Dean Rock scored the first-half goal from a penalty kick after O’Callaghan was fouled by his marker Eoin Harkin after putting a speculative Fenton ball into danger.
It was the kind of ball Dublin has been willing to try from time to time.
In contrast, Meath played cautiously, looking for openings that rarely existed.
Early on Ronan Jones threaded through a fine ball and Jordan Morris found himself one on one with Mick Fitzsimons inside. But Fitzsimons did enough to keep Morris on his weaker right foot and his shot trickled wide of the far post.
A goal could have at least delayed the inevitable, but by the 10th minute Dublin were five points clear with no reply from Bryan Menton in the 13th minute.
Meath briefly went from three points when Morris from a free-kick and Thomas O’Reilly pointed to the 6-0 for 3-0 in the 17th minute.
But Dublin ramped up in the second quarter and were rampant on the Meath kick-out, drawing much of their momentum from the pressure they could apply to it.
It was 1:17 to 0:5 before the break.
Meath found a better footing in the second half as Menton took his tally to three points and a late Morris penalty after Matthew Costello was fouled further eroded Dublin’s lead.
But there was also indiscipline as substitute Jack Flynn and Morris both showed straight red cards.
For Dublin, Mick Fitzsimons received a yellow card for fouling Costello for the penalty, his second resulted in his dismissal.
Undoubtedly, Dublin are in far better form than they were at that stage last year and even a 13-point win hardly reflects how dominant they were or how well they played in the first half.
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 0-2 each, S Bugler, B Howard, P Small (m) all 0-1 each.
Meat: 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 everyone.
Dublin: E Comerford: E Murchan, M Fitzsimons, L Gannon; J Small, B Howard, J McCarthy; B. Fenton, T. Lahiff; Hornist S, O’Dell L, Kilkenny C; C Costello, D Rock, C O’Callaghan. Substitutes: J Cooper for Murchan (50), N Scully for O Dell (55), P Small for O’Callaghan (55), S Clayton for Fenton (62)
Meat: HHogan; 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 (ht) S Walsh for O’Reilly (ht), S McEntee for Ryan (ht), J Flynn for Jones (43), B McMahon for O’Sullivan (58), B O’Leary for Costello (67)
Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary)
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/normal-service-resumes-for-dublin-as-dessie-farrells-men-crush-meath-and-march-into-leinster-final-41652396.html Normal service for Dublin resumes as Dessie Farrell’s men crush Meath and invade the Leinster Finals