Meath ease past Wicklow to secure semi-final spot
Wicklow offered little more than token resistance at Pairc Tailteann today as Meath coasted into an O'Byrne Cup semi-final clash with Longford following their 4-19 to 0-13 victory.
Needing the victory to ensure another game in their preseason competition Meath looked comfortable throughout and apart from a brief spell early in the game they were always in command against a disappointing Wicklow.
It was clear from the off that Meath were the dominant force and it took them just 22 seconds to get off the mark as Graham Reilly fisted over from close range.
The Wicklow defence was marked absent a minute later when Mark McCabe won a poor kickout and set up Sean Tobin to double the hosts lead.
Wicklow did threaten to to make a game of it when Sean Furlong pointed brilliantly from 40 metres and then Gearoid Murphy converted a long-range free to restore parity by the seventh minute, but they didn't score again for 16 minutes while Meath added 2-3 to their tally in that spell.
McCabe and Adam Flanagan made it 0-4 to 0-2 before Bryan Menton, who was on as a blood sub for Flanagan, had a shot parried into the path of David Toner and he made no mistake from close range to blast the first goal in the 16th minute.
Donal Lenihan added a free a minute later and in the 22nd minute the Dunboyne man blasted an outstanding effort to the roof of the net to make it 2-5 to 0-2.
Dean Healy galloped forward to end Wicklow's barren spell, but Meath continued to be the dominant force against their beleagured visitors.
Reilly added two more points to stretch Meath's lead to 10 and even though David Gallagher had to turn a Padraig O'Toole effort around the post the Royals continued to control the contest with Lenihan (free) and Toner making it 2-9 to 0-3.
Two more frees from Murphy either side of a fine Paddy Kennelly score did cut Meath's advantage, but they never looked under pressure as they went in at half-time with a 2-10 to 0-5 advatage.
The second-half was a scrappy, fractious period with both sides introducing plenty of substitutes which made the already one-sided contest very disjointed.
Wicklow improved after the resumption and kept pace with their hosts as frees from Furlong (three), Murphy (two) and one from play from Healy were bettered by scores from Sean Tobin (three), Joey Wallace (two), Menton, Paddy Kennelly and Shane McEntee as Meath edged 2-18 to 0-11 ahead.
Then two goals in a couple of minutes ftrom McCabe and Wallace firmly hammered home Meath's supremacy and the remainer was academic as Meath coasted into the semi-finals.
Meath - David Gallagher (Dunboyne); Shane Glynn (Wolfe Tones), Luke Moran (Trim), Mickey Burke (Longwood); Donal Keogan (Rathkenny), Brían Conlon (Simonstown), Alan Douglas (Trim); Adam Flanagan (Clonard 0-1), Harry Rooney (Skryne); Mark McCabe (Simonstown 1-2), David Toner (Curraha 1-1), Graham Reilly (St Colmcille's 0-3); Sean Tobin (Simonston 0-4 two frees), Donal Lenihan (Dunboyne 1-2 two frees), Paddy Kennelly (Dunderry 0-2). Subs – Bryan McMahon (Ratoath) for Toner 31 mins, Darragh Griffin (Clann na nGael) for Reilly, Liam Ferguson (Gaeil Colmcille) for Burke, Bryan Menton (Donaghmore/Ashbourne 0-1) for Flanagan, Shane McEntee (Dunboyne 0-1) for Rooney, Joey Wallace (Ratoath 1-2) for Lenihan all half-time, Conor Dempsey (Dunderry) for Conlon 50m, Eoghan Greene (Skryne) for Glynn 54m, Black card – C Dempsey (replaced by Conor McGill (Ratoath) 70m).
Wicklow – Robert Lambert; Ciarn Hyland, Harry Wilson, Eoin Murtagh; Dara Fitzgerald, Dean Healy (0-2), Jamie Snell; Kevin Murphy, Rory Finn; Theo Smith, Mark Kenny, Padraig O'Toole; Gearoid Murphy (0-6 frees), Sean Furlong (0-4 three frees), Conor Byrne. Subs – Bbrendan Kennedy for Murtagh 31 mins, Mark Jackson for Lambert, Dan Keane (0-1) for O'Toole, Conor French for Byrne all half-time, Saoirse Kearon for Wilson, PJ O'Keeffe for Kenny both 43m, Gavin Murray for K Murphy, Dan Kelly for G Murphy both 62m, Conor Healy for Snell 64m.
Referee – Stephen Murphy (Louth).