Carlow 0-6 Meath 7-13
A horror show for Carlow on their own patch. So low were confidence levels by the finish that a streaker was allowed run the length of the field and do a pull up under Pat Coady’s goal before the stewards helpfully opened an exit gate.
Gaelic football becomes awfully drab viewing when one team gets a run on the other. The life visibly drained out of Carlow just before the interval when Stephen Bray punched Meath's third goal.
That makes it hard to accurately rate Mick O’Dowd’s men. Carlow backed off them so much they had the run of the middle third and despite some awful distribution the competitive nature of this fixture disappeared by 25 minutes.
Carlow manager Anthony Rainbow will struggle to lift his panel for a qualifier tilt at Waterford. Then again, if they can cancel out the string of eight first-half wides there should be a dramatic improvement.
They certainly can’t be any worse.
Meath eased into a 3-6 to 0-2 lead without ever approaching championship intensity.
Brian Meade and Shane O'Rourke, playing his first championship game in three years, dominated the aerial ball, while all six defenders were encouraged to loosen the shackles and gallop forward.
Still, it was already static, boring viewing when O’Rourke curled over a left footed free to make it 0-3 to 0-1 after 22 minutes.
Then came a penalty but no black card despite Daniel St Ledger dragging opposite number Donal Keogan to ground. Kerry referee Pádraig O'Sullivan never actually signalled for a penalty and looked a very hesitant man when easing towards his umpires for support. St Ledger got a word in and survived but Mickey Newman planted the penalty.
Moments later Ciarán Moran got a sight of the Meath goal but, keeping with the theme of Carlow’s day, he sent a daisy-cutter wide.
Bryan McMahon drilled the second after some decent fielding by Meade, adding a point seconds later, before creating the third goal for an otherwise quiet Bray.
Carlow showed initial signs of holding pace in the second period but a brilliant goal by Andrew Tormey – blasting past a helpless Coady into the top corner – confirmed the rout.
The sun had come out at Dr Cullen Park as Meath began preparations for Kildare in the Leinster semi-final on June 29th.
The inability of Coady to find a Carlow player with his kick-outs meant it got really ugly as Newman practically walked two more goals into the net in the space of a minute.
Dalton McDonagh claimed a seventh which barely raised a cheer from the large Meath contingent in the 4,313 crowd.
CARLOW: 1 P Coady; 2 R Mahon, 3 S Mernagh, 4 BJ Molloy; 5 G Power, 6 D St Ledger, 7 B Kavanagh; 8 D Foley, 9 H Gahan; 12 D Bambrick, 11 C Moran, 10 M Meaney; 13 P Broderick, 14 S Kinsella, 15 C Coughlan.
Subs: 21 C Lawlor for S Mernagh (half-time), 24 K Nolan for G Power (43 mins), 26 E Ruth for D Foley (45 mins), 23 W Minchin for C Moran (47 mins), 19 J Kennedy for S Kinsella (54 mins).
MEATH: 1 P O'Rourke; 2 C Young, 3 K Reilly, 4 M Burke; 7 D Carroll, 6 D Keogan, 5 P Harnan; 8 B Meade, 9 S O'Rourke; 10 D Tobin, 11 B McMahon, 12 A Tormey; 13 G Reilly, 14 S Bray, 15 M Newman.
Subs: 21 S Kenny for D Keogan (half-time), 18 A Flanagan for M Meade (47 mins), 20 D McDonagh for G Reilly (50 mins), 23 M O'Sullivan for M Burke (52 mins), 17 P Gilsenan for S Bray (54 mins),19 D Lenihan for B McMahon (61 mins).
Referee: P O'Sullivan (Kerry).