Meath fall to heavy defeat in Carlow
It was a disappointing Sunday afternoon for the Meath hurlers who can have no complaints after a very strong Carlow side comprehensively beat the Royals 3-22 to 1-16 at Cullen Park, writes TOM GANNON.
It was very evident that the current Joe McDonagh champions had way too much quality in their ranks for Seoirse Bulfin’s men to handle. Despite having a few decent periods during the game, the scoreline is a fair reflection of Meath’s performance.
Carlow started the better with points from Chris Nolan and Conor Kehoe. James Toher got Meath’s account underway and left one between the sides after the opening exchanges of the contest.
Carlow got two points in quick succession to build up a three-point lead before poacher Nicky Potterton found the back of the net for the third time in two games. Potterton broke the last line of defence before smacking the sliotar over his head and over the head of Brian Tracey.
Carlow immediately responded with a goal of their own courtesy of John Michael Nolan. Carlow kicked on then with further points from Martin Kavanagh and James Doyle.
Podge O’Hanrahan’s first converted free left four between the sides after 20 minutes. Kavanagh’s long-range deadball effort from inside the Carlow half extended his side’s lead back to five.
Chris Nolan broke through the Meath defence and popped the sliotar over the bar to bring Carlow’s tally to 1-10 after 25 minutes. Meath were really starting to struggle as Nolan got his second score on the bounce.
Podge O’Hanrahan’s second free reduced the margin back to seven before the Ratoath man got on the end of a lovely move by Trim men Toher and Murray and finished off a lovely score from play right in front of the stands.
A rare error from Charlie Ennis allowed Carlow in for their second goal. A long high ball fell through the fingers of Ennis and Martin Kavanagh was on hand to pounce and finish to the back of the net.
James Toher’s score in injury time of the first half didn’t do a lot to improve the look of the scoreboard at half-time. Carlow went in at the break with a 10-point advantage over the Royals, 2-14 to 1-7.
It was hard to imagine anything other than a Carlow victory at that stage. The hosts won their individual battles all over the pitch. The men in Green, Red and Yellow were also extremely clinical in front of the posts.
Both sides were slow out of the blocks in the second half but Carlow dangerman Chris Nolan finally got the scoring underway. O’Hanrahan cancelled out Nolan’s score with his second from play.
Sean Martin and O’Hanrahan sent over two points in quick succession to give Meath some hope before James Toher reduced the gap further to seven points with 20 minutes left.
Chris Nolan caused a lot of issues for the Meath defence but the centre forward failed to convert two goal opportunities. It meant that Meath’s slim hopes of getting anything from the game were just about still alive.
James Doyle and Nicky Potterton traded scores as Carlow continued to keep the Royals at arm’s length. Martin Kavanagh and John Michael Nolan brought Carlow’s lead back to nine as the contest entered the final 15 minutes.
Conor Kehoe then put the final nail in the Meath coffin as he provided Carlow’s third goal 10 minutes from time and before Carlow’s prolific free taker, Martin Kavanagh, was shown the line for a second yellow offence.
Two more Podge O’Hanrahan frees were nothing more than consolation scores. Points from Chris Nolan and substitute Scott Treacy gave Carlow a 12-point lead in injury time.
Podge O’Hanrahan and Jon Nolan traded the last two scores as the final whistle confirmed Carlow’s emphatic victory.
Meath can take some solace in the fact that Carlow had defeated Meath’s next opponent, Kerry, by pretty much the exact same score line a week earlier (Carlow 3-22 Kerry 0-19). The Royals will now attempt to put this result behind them and prepare for a trip to the Kingdom in two weeks.
Carlow – Martin Kavanagh 1-6 five frees, one '65’; Chris Nolan 0-6; John Michael Nolan 1-2; Conor Kehoe 1-2; James Doyle 0-2; Jon Nolan 0-2; Jake Doyle 0-1; Scott Treacy 0-1.
Meath – Podge O’Hanrahan 0-9 seven frees; Nick Potterton 1-1; James Toher 0-3; Sean Martin 0-3.
Carlow - Brian Tracy; Paul Doyle, Dion Wall, Niall Bolger; Tony Lawlor, Kevin McDonald, Fiachra Fitzpatrick; Conor Kehoe, James Doyle; John Micheal Nolan, Chris Nolan, Martin Kavanagh; Richard Coady, Sean Joyce, Jake Doyle. Subs - Jon Nolan for Jake Doyle 48m, Scott Treacy for Fitzpatrick 62m, Conor Lawlor for Joyce 64m, Paudie O’Shea for Paul Doyle 71m.
Meath - Charlie Ennis (Trim); Michael Burke (Longwood), Shane Whitty (Blackhall Gaels), Ronan Byrne (Ratoath); Niall McLarnon (Ratoath), Simon Ennis (Rathmolyon), Ethan Devine (Na Fianna); Paul Kelly (Blackhall Gaels), Tom Shine (Kilskyre/Moylagh); James Toher (Trim), James Murray (Trim), Seanie Martin (Na Fianna); Nicky Potterton (Kildalkey), James Kelly (Kiltale), Podge O’Hanrahan (Ratoath) Subs – Daire Shine (Kilskyre/Moylagh) for P Kelly 39m, Sean Geraghty (Kilskyre/Moylagh) for Devine 42m, Jack Walsh (O’Mahonys) for Potterton 69m, Mark Horan (Kilmessan) for J Kelly 70m.
Referee - Chris Mooney (Dublin).