Meath 1-18 Cork 1-10
Turns out it was no great harm that neither Meath manager Andy McEntee nor Cork's Keith Ricken were available for post-match interviews in Navan.
Meath led virtually from pillar to post, benefiting from the return of Bryan Menton at midfield and easing their relegation fears considerably with their best performance of 2022 so far.
Cork, on the other hand, never really looked like claiming a badly-needed win and duly walked away empty-handed. Beyond that, there wasn’t a whole pile either manager could probably add.
Despite playing into the stiff wind in the first half for the fifth game running, Meath led by five points at half-time and secured their first win of the campaign with an unanswered burst of 1-4 between the 48th and 54th minutes.
Jordan Morris scored the Meath goal from a 53rd-minute penalty after Jason Scully was hauled down by Kieran Histon.
The strike helped Meath to lead by 10 points, a considerable buffer that allowed them to repel a mini-Cork revival that climaxed with a 57th-minute goal from substitute Joe Grimes.
Both managers declined to speak to the media afterwards in solidarity with the player expenses issue highlighted by the Gaelic Players Association.
“The thing I’ll say is there’s no problem in Meath,” said McEntee, regarding allegations that ‘many’ intercounty players haven’t received expenses payments in recent months. “Our lads are paid up but if other lads aren’t, we have to stand up for them.”
Cork manager Ricken declined to speak and while county chairman Marc Sheehan did offer some commentary, it was all game related.
“We’re not in a great position,” acknowledged Sheehan of Cork’s slide to the foot of the table with just a point from five matches.
Sheehan confirmed that joint captain Seán Meehan will undergo surgery on a hamstring injury in London on Tuesday.
Brian Hurley did return to the first team for Cork and offered glimpses of quality but he and Stephen Sherlock were generally well held by an excellent performance from Meath's full-back line.
Meath goalkeeper Harry Hogan converted five points in the first half from frees, three of those won by Thomas O'Reilly.
Morris clipped two points and Menton, just back from a hand injury and the 33rd player to feature competitively for Meath this year, pointed too.
Meath weren’t flattered by their 0-11 to 0-6 half-time lead and wrapped things up with that 1-4 blitzkrieg, Scully getting it underway with a fine point and then winning the penalty for Morris to dispatch.
MEATH: H Hogan (0-5, five frees); R Clarke, J Muldoon, E Harkin; D Keogan, P Harnan, C Hickey; B Menton (0-2), R Jones; J Scully (0-1), T O'Reilly (0-1), M Costello (0-1); J Morris (1-2), S Walsh (0-1), C O'Sullivan (0-2).
Subs: J McEntee (0-2) for Hickey (h-t), E Wallace for Scully (60 mins), B McMahon for O'Sullivan, J Wallace (0-1) for Walsh (both 65), R Ryan for Harkin (71).
CORK: M Martin; K O'Donovan, K Flahive, T Corkery; R Maguire (0-1), K Histon, M Taylor; I Maguire, C O'Callaghan; D Dineen, F Herlihy, S Merritt; B Murphy, B Hurley (0-2), S Sherlock (0-5, three frees, one 45).
Subs: J O'Rourke for O'Callaghan (19-24 mins, blood), J Grimes (1-0) for Merritt (31), C O'Mahony (0-2) for Herlihy, C Kiely for Taylor (both h-t), O'Rourke for Dineen (39-43, blood), P Ring for Corkery (44), M Cronin for Murphy (57-f/t, blood), B Hayes for Hurley (62), O'Rourke for O'Callaghan (70-f/t, blood).
Referee: L Devenney (Mayo).