Meath exited the Leinster u-21 HC at the first hurdle tonight in Trim where they were well off the pace against Westmeath as they lost by 14 points (0-12 to 2-20).
Six points in each half was all that Meath could muster against a well-prepared Westmeath outfit that thoroughly deserved their victory and a place in the next round against laois next Wednesday night.
As starts go, this couldn't have been any worse for the hosts - Meath conceded a goal after about 10 seconds when Raharney man Ciaran Doyle met little or no resistance. And if that wasn't bad enough, goalkeeper Charlie Ennis fumbled a long-range effort from Michael Daly in the third minute. At that early stage it left the score at 0-1 to 2-0.
To their credit, Meath kept their composure and by the 24th minute were well in the game trailing by those two goals (0-5 to 2-5), but from there to the break Westmeath added another five points for a substantial 2-10 to 0-5 interval elad.
It was all an effort at damage-limitation in the second-half - and there wasn't any of that either as Meath produced a tame enough performance with 15 Westmeath wides also a contributory factor.
Gavin McGowan and Darragh Kelly, who both played in the Leinster SHC for Meath against Westmeath two weeks ago hardly featured although that might have had something to do with the fragmented preparations that left manager Stephen Forde quite dissatisfied.
"We're not as bad as that performance suggests, but the preparations weren't great, the only acceptable response now is to to go out and defend the All-Ireland u-21 B HC title when that comes around in August," he commented.
Killian Doyle was the top scorer for Westmeath with 12 points - but at times it was like men against boys and that was the real difference.
The sizeable number of Westmeath supporters left the venue satisfied with the result, nothing more.
Great credit also to the Trim club for the excellent condition of the pitch.
Westmeath - Marcus Kennedy; Sean Quinn, Conor Shaw, Naoise McKenna; Joe Rabbit, Darren Giles,Darragh Egerton; Michael Daly (1-0), Shane Clavin; Adam McLoughlin, Killian Doyle (0-12 six frees), Jack Galvin (0-2); James Goonery (0-2), Niall Mitchell, Ciaran Doyle (1-3).
Subs - Paddy Lynam for Clavin seven mins, Darragh Clinton (0-1) for Mitchell 12m, Robbie Gillen for Rabbitt 38m, Darragh O'Reilly for Galvin 55m, Johnny Bermingham for Daly 56m.
Meath - Charlie Ennis (Trim); Brian Murphy (Ratoath), Iarla Hughes (Kiltale), Conor Dempsey (Dunderry); Peter Slevin (Na Fianna), Darragh Kelly (Ratoath 0-2 one free, one '65'), Ronan Ryan (Kiltale); Martin Healy (Kildalkey), Luke Martyn (Dunderry); Peter Farrell (Trim), John McCloskey (Na Fianna), Conor Kearney (Kildalkey 0-5 four frees); Ross Ryan (Kiltale 0-1), Gavin McGowan (Ratoath), Eamonn Mac Donnchadh (Clann na nGael (0-2)).
Subs - Mickey Cullen (Trim 0-1) for Farrell 38 mins, Jack Cox (Dunboyne) for Kearney 45m, Stephen Gibbons (Boardsmill) for Dempsey 55m, Sean O'Hanrahan (Ratoath) for Martyn 56m, Mark Slevin (Na Fianna) for McGowan 57m
Referee - John O'Brien (Laois).