Leinster on life support as Dublin swat aside Meath for nine-in-a-row

Jim Gavin’s side never threatened in Croke Park rain in a final which never caught fire

Ciaran Kilkenny is challenged by Meath’s Graham Reilly during Dublin’s Leinster final win. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ciaran Kilkenny is challenged by Meath’s Graham Reilly during Dublin’s Leinster final win. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Dublin 1-17 Meath 0-4

Here lies a Leinster final and provincial football championship in all but name. A decade of the Dubs. A new record of nine provincial titles to Meath’s flicker in 2010.

Easily the most entertaining moment during Dublin’s uncompetitive dismantling of Andy McEntee’s Meath was the half-time music. Lady Gaga (not in person) booming out how, “We are far from the shallows now” and how everyone is “Longin’ for change,” seemed almost comical.

But the sight of this a once vicious rivalry surviving on life support was far from funny.

At one point it looked like Meath could be nilled. So inaccurate was their shooting and so small in stature was James Conlon in the inside forward line - Mick Fitzsimons gobbled him whole - that they never ran out of options; they never had any to begin with.

The misty rain sent thousands home long before the inevitable finish.

This is the GAA’s primetime product in June 2019.

Dublin cannot even claim to have played well. In fact, nobody could score in the opening 11 minutes. Eventually Ciarán Kilkenny exposed a dodgy Andrew Colgan kick out and bounced off Shane Gallagher’s attempted body check to raise the first white flag.

In Meath’s defence, the fullback line were diligent and disciplined until Conor McGill - who had a fine game - saw yellow for putting Cormac Costello to ground.

This was the height of the physical exchanges (It should be noted that Dublin did not escape unharmed as James McCarthy was forced off after being unable to put weight on his right leg).

Paul Mannion misses a first half penalty during Dublin’s win over Meath. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho
Paul Mannion misses a first half penalty during Dublin’s win over Meath. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Jack McCaffrey made it 0-2 within seconds of Kilkenny’s opener. There are certainties about this Dublin outfit. Work rate. Power. Sensible use of possession. And, leaving McCaffrey in a one versus one scenario will result in scores. Ben Brennan was duly skinned alive.

Dark night for Meath folk who remember glory days. On 40 minutes the anguish was written all over Graham Reilly’s face. He didn’t want to leave this exhibition-paced contest and said as much to McEntee but the veteran had posted five wides.

Time to go.

This was no relation of high octane sport. None at all.

Paul Mannion kicked a serious score before the interval but the Dublin forwards could hardly be commended for their overall quality. Mannion smacked the butt of the post on 25 minutes after Kilkenny’s hand pass had Con O’Callaghan racing down on goal.

Penalty missed, the 42,027 attendance barely reacted, such was the overwhelming feeling of inevitability.

Ben Brennan missed a number of frees for Meath during their heavy defeat to Dublin. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho
Ben Brennan missed a number of frees for Meath during their heavy defeat to Dublin. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

The Super 8’s cannot come quick enough for Jim Gavin and Co. On this evidence Meath will only weaken the whole experiment of improving the football championship. Gavin’s team need more than Connacht champions Roscommon to test their appetite for five-in-a-row.

Neither manager will have learned much from this encounter. Up went Stephen Cluxton to collect Dublin’s 58th Leinster title. Nine-in-a-row, clearly, is a statistic that emphasises the shattered state of this provincial competition rather than Dublin’s greatest ever era.

“Keep going,” was all Cluxton would tell the Meath players.

So finishes a decade that began with Meath thumping Dublin to the tune of 5-9 to 0-13 in this very fixture. Nine cold seasons have passed with no real Leinster rivalries to speak of.

Gone are the days when the very sight of Meath green would make inhabitants of Hill 16 shudder. It took them 55 minutes to find their voice. The stadium eventually finding full voice with O’Callaghan’’s late and expertly finished goal.

Something to cheer, nothing more.

By the end all that resonated was Gaga’s words: “Tell me something,

boy: Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void? Or do you need more?”

Surely, this cannot go on. The marvel is so many people keep showing up. Then again, Dublin versus Sean Boylan’s Meath used to guarantee double the crowd.

More sadness than joy, Dublin barely break stride as Meath fall into the qualifiers.

Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; David Byrne, Mick Fitzsimons, Philly McMahon (0-1); John Small, Cian O’Sullivan, Jack McCaffrey (0-2); Brian Fenton (0-1), James McCarthy; Niall Scully (0-1), Cormac Costello (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 45), Brian Howard; Ciarán Kilkenny (0-1), Paul Mannion (0-3), Con O’Callaghan (1-0). Subs: Michael Darragh Macauley for McCarthy, 33 mins; Dean Rock (0-4, 0-1 free) for Howard, 52 mins; Kevin McManamon for Costello, 59 mins; Paddy Small for Kilkenny, 61 mins; Paddy Andrews (0-1) for Small, 65 mins; Rory O’Carroll for McCaffrey, 68 mins

Meath: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Shane Gallagher; Donal Keogan, Ronan Ryan, Shane McEntee; Bryan Menton (0-1), Graham Reilly; Ben Brennanm Bryan McMahon, James McEntee; Cillian O’Sullivan, Mickey Newman (0-3, 0-1 free), James Conlon. Subs: Sean Tobin for Brennan, 39 mins; Ethan Devine for Reilly, 40 mins; Thomas O’Reilly for Conlon, 54 mins; Barry Dardis for S McEntee, 59 mins; Sean Curran for Gallagher, 66 mins; Thomas McGovern for McMahon, 66 mins

Referee: Seán Hurson (Tyrone)

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.