For the second time inside a decade, Meath put seven goals past a surprisingly limp Wicklow resistance in the Leinster SFC opener at Aughrim this afternoon. While the performance undoubtedly showed promise for what lies ahead in the short and long term, nobody should be under any illusions about the fact that a sterner test certainly awaits at the next hurdle.
In the early stages, it appeared the domination of Bryan Menton and Ronan Jones at midfield was going to go largely unrewarded as they had initially only managed two points. Until, that is, Jordan Morris burst onto the Championship scene with the same ferocity which had underpinned his ascending contributions in the National League outings against Dublin and Monaghan.
The Nobber player’s first ‘major’ was the wake-up call the Royals required as further goals followed from Mathew Costello, and Joint-Captain Bryan Menton left the 1/12 favourites ahead by a flattering 3-06 to 0-03 at the half time break. When Cillian O’Sullivan pointed immediately after the restart it appeared the expected plain sailing would materialise.
Eventually it did, of course, but the manner in which Meath tend to profit in games in fits and starts will surely concern Andy McEntee ahead of a meeting with either Offaly or Kildare. As will what appears to be indecision with regard to free taking duties on the left hand side of the pitch. The recently departed Mickey Newman had been a source of surety for them in that department in recent seasons and, while Jones and Tomas O’Reilly had attempts today, Na Fianna’s Shane Walsh would look the best proposition at the moment.
Morris would eventually complete his hat-trick with the aid of two penalties, both awarded for fouls on Joey Wallace, before the Ratoath player himself and fellow substitute Cathal Hickey finished past the Garden County’s netminder Mark Jackson to guarantee McEntee’s men a return to Croke Park next weekend.