Strong second half gives new look Royals encouraging start

Meath… 0-16

Carlow… 1-09

Meath got their 2023 football season off to a winning start at a windy and wet Netwatch Cullen Park tonight.

New manager Colm O’Rourke gave debuts to seven newcomers for his first match in charge. And in truth, it took the new Royal combination quite a while to settle. Mostly because Jordan Morrissey, Colm Crowley and, in particular, Darragh Foley, caused the new look Meath full back line plenty of headaches.

Carlow’s Darragh Foley is as good a forward as you’ll see anywhere.

However, in a nod to the style of football O’Rourke and his comrades were renouned for, eventually, manufacturing several turnovers and working the ball through the lines for several phases before letting longer ball into highly impressive triumvirate of Darragh Campion, Jason Scully and Diarmuid Moriarity.

Oldcastle’s Scully accounted for two of Meath’s three first half scores but the home side’s Foley was even more impressive, by my reckoning, annexing all bar a point of the 1-05 posted by Niall Carew’s side.

Colm O’Rourke’s men produced a fine second half

Whether it was down to a rev up from the new boss or the weather or something else can only be speculated upon, but Meath were a transformed team in Act II

Eoin Harkin got forward at will, Daithi McGowan built on his impressive form with Ratoath while Curraha clubman Diarmuid Moriarity put himself about on the edge of the square, marking a fine debut by lofting over four points.

Another item of encouragement has to be the fact that Cillian O’Sullivan, Keith Curtis (two each) and Donal Lenihan all engaged the umpires once introduced.

While it would be foolhardy in the extreme to place too much store in outcomes achieved four days into the year, the fingerprints of the best of Meath football DNA were all over the second half display in particular.

Every journey has to start somewhere and, as beginnings go, that’ll do nicely and we’ll roll on (literally in my case) to Pairc Tailteann on Saturday and tackle Laois.

MEATH: S. Brennan; J. O’Hare, H. O’Higgins, S. Rafferty (0-1); E. Harkin, D. Keogan, C. Hickey; D. McGowan (0-2), B. Conlon; C. Moriarity, D. Campion, J. Scully (0-1); M. Costello (0-3), D. Moriarity (0-4), A. Lynch. Subs – R. Clarke for Hickey, C. O’Sullivan (0-2) for C. Moriarity, S. McEntee for Keogan, D. Lenihan (0-1) for Lynch, K. Curtis (0-2) for Scully, M. Flood for Rafferty, C. Quigley for Harkin, H. Hogan for O’Sullivan.

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