TOP MAN: Cillian O’Sullivan produced another man-of-the-match display for Meath in Sunday’s Leinster SFC semi-final victory over Kildare at Croke Park. Photo: David Mullen / www.quirke.ie

TAKE FIVE FROM THE VICTORY OVER KILDARE

IMPACT FROM BENCH

Against Monaghan in the final game of NFL Div 1 Jordan Morris was sprung from the bench and scored seven points.

Last week against Wicklow Joey Wallace and Cathal Hickey scored goals when introduced, while James Conlon chipped in with two points.

On Sunday against Kildare the bench also made a telling impact with Wallace and Jason Scully bagging goals while Conlon and Hickey also added points.

It is that type of strength-in-depth that is giving Meath supporters plenty of cause for optimism.

DREADFUL FIRST-HALF

Off the back of excellent NFL Div 1 performances against Dublin and Monaghan and a 28-point rout of Wicklow in the opening round of the championship, Meath should have been buzzing going into Sunday's Leinster SFC semi-final against Kildare.

Instead they looked completely out of sorts in the opening 35 minutes and were lucky to be still hanging on in the contest when trailing by six points at half-time.

Meath manager Andy McEntee couldn't put his finger on why his players had looked such a pale shadow of what they are capable of, but he was certainly delighted they managed to buck up their ideas after the break.

GOAL-CRAZY

While some people have been raving about Meath's return of 12 goals in their last two championship outings, their recent run of goal-scoring isn't that much of a surprise as they have been fairly decent in front of the posts in the last 12-18 months.

Only Dublin and Donegal kept clean sheets against the Royals in their NFL Div 1 campaign during which they scored seven goals.

In last year's Super 8s Meath scored goals against Kerry and Donegal with Mayo the only ones to keep them from raising a green flag.

Meath also scored two goals in their All-Ireland SFC qualifier win over Clare and in the 2019 Leinster SFC Meath scored six goals before their drought against Dublin in the final.

So all told Meath have scored 29 goals in 17 games – not too shabby.

KICK-OUT WOES

Securing primary possession from kick-outs continues to be a major problem.

Meath lost nine of their 18 kick-outs in the opening half as Kildare applied pressure all over the field.

The automatic response is to look to the goalkeeper when things go astray, but a simple review of the kick-outs will show errors further out the field with players letting the ball slip through their legs, bounce off their chests or fail to move towards the kick and have the ball stolen from them.

Kick-outs are a two-way street and while some of Mark Brennan's kick-outs did end up as hit and hopes, that was down to a lack of movement and a failure from the outfield players to create space.

A huge amount of credit must also go to Kildare for the way they disrupted the Meath kickouts.

MAN OF THE MATCH

After the opening 35 minutes not too many players were in the reckoning for any plaudits.

There were a few who never gave up the ghost and displayed the passion and courage necessary, but they were few and far between.

After the break it was a different story with several players making telling impacts to turn the game in Meath's favour.

However, over the course of the 70-odd minutes it was Shane McEntee and Cillian O'Sullivan who showed the will to win and hunger to battle for every scrap.

McEntee produced an inspirational block in the second period and chipped in with a superb point in a non-stop, die-hard performance, but in terms of a willingness to drop deep to win dirty ball, drive at the heart of the Kildare defence and offer slivers of creativity that kept Meath in the contest, O'Sullivan just shades McEntee as Meath's top man.

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