Dublin overpower Meath in Leinster final

Meath run out of steam as Dublin complete Leinster football and hurling double for the first time since 1942

Meath goalkeeper Paddy O’Rourke with Eoghan O’Gara and Diarmuid Connolly. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Dublin 2-15 Meath 0-14: Meath forced Dublin to dig out their 52nd Leinster title today, and for that they will be grateful, but we witnessed two counties on very different footballing journeys.

At least for the time being.

But any doubts about Meath doing what Kildare failed, and actually testing Dublin, were not long being dismissed. Only problem was these young Royals spurned so many early chances. It might have made the difference.

Although probably not.


Michael Newman found an important rhythm from long range frees and the Meath tactic of pressing high up the field denied Stephen Cluxton the short kick out option he always looks to use.

It meant Jack McCaffrey and James McCarthy were denied the space to gallop forward, which meant Dublin’s favourite method of counter attacking was stymied.

All told, Mick O’Dowd appeared to get his match-ups and game plan spot on.

Ciarán Kilkenny was still having a fine outing as Jim Gavin's chief play-maker, with one of his many laser accurate kick passes finding Paul Mannion after four minutes. Mannion offloaded to Paul Flynn who blasted to the net.

Down the other end Damien Carroll put a similar opportunity wide.

It seemed like Dublin would ease clear thereafter. But the opposite happened with Newman rattling off a string of scores to put Meath 0-9 to 1-4 ahead at the break.

The response from the Leinster champions was emphatic. Michael Darragh MacAuley won the throw in, sending Cian O’Sullivan thundering through the middle. Meath were ready for him but couldn’t prevent Kilkenny kicking a point.

Kilkenny had drifted closer to goal now and the result was two more finely taken scores. He was unmarkable today.

And still Meath refused to go quietly, Brian Meade and Newman hitting good points to level it up once again.

Dublin re-took the lead with a Stephen Cluxton free but not before Flynn and Carroll got yellow cards as the whole event threatened to boil over (Seamus Kenny and Diarmuid Connolly in particular got up close and personal).

But with Dublin dominating possession, things eventually began to settle as Mannion put them three points clear after 53 minutes.

It should have been a more comfortable but McCaffrey, who impressively grew into the game, and Connolly failed to take goal chances. Same goes for Stephen Bray missing into Hill 16 as Cluxton was his usual excellent self.

Newman was equally impressive, ending a 13 minute gap since his last score to make keep interesting. Only problem was no other Meath player could find the target.

Joe Sheridan’s arrival should have ensured an enthralling subplot but he was immediately bottled up.

Dublin’s hammer blow was pure soccer; Mannion sliding home O’Brien’s rebounded shot after Connolly and McManamon made telling contributions in the build up.

The origin of the second goal came further out the field as McCarthy's shoulder bowled Graham Reilly over the sideline.

That’s as good an example as any of what separated the teams. Meath matched Dublin stride for stride but when it came to rubbing shoulders they lacked the power.

It wasn’t clinical but it means Cluxton has now made two speeches from the Hogan stand in 2013. They’ll need to improve if he is to make a third.

Dublin: 1 S Cluxton (0-3, 45, two frees); 4 J Cooper, 3 R O'Carroll, 24 K O'Brien; 5 J McCarthy, 6 G Brennan, 7 J McCaffrey; 8 MD MacAuley, 9 C O'Sullivan; 10 P Flynn (1-1), 11 C Kilkenny (0-3), 12 D Connolly (0-1); 14 P Mannion (1-4, 0-2 frees), 25 E O'Gara, 15 B Brogan (0-1, free). Substitutions: 22 K McManamon for B Brogan (16-18 mins), 22 K McManamon for E O'Gara, D Bastick for C O'Sullivan (both 46 mins), 2 D Daly for G Brennan (57 mins), 26 D Rock (0-2, one free) for B Brogan (60 mins), 19 B Cullen for D Connolly (65 mins).

Meath: 1 P O'Rourke; 2 D Keogan, 3 K Reilly, 6 M Burke; 5 P Harnan, 7 S Kenny, B Menton; 8 B Meade (0-1), 9 C Gillespie; 10 P Byrne, 11 D Carroll, 12 G Reilly; 13 E Wallace (0-2), 14 S Bray (0-2), 15 M Newman (0-8 five frees). Substitutions: 19 C Lennon for S Kenny (49 mins), 18 J Sheridan (0-1) for D Carroll (52 mins), 22 A Tormey for B Meade (60 mins), 24 D McDonagh for E Wallace (65 mins)

Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent