In what turned out to be Mick O’Dowd’s last game as Meath manager, his charges led Derry by seven points at half time in an All Ireland SFC Qualifier before capitulating spectacularly after half time. This corner cannot recall whether it had happened prior to that, but it certainly has been a habit they’ve got hard to break since.
In fairness, last week against Louth, one would have to cut them a bit of slack as, on mature recollection, it was a case of them expending too much energy in attempting to work themselves back into the game.
Yes, the point that the Wee County’s goal never should have stood because Craig Lennon double-hopped the ball is a valid one. However, advancing that as mitigation is akin to attempting to mend a pothole with a coal shovel full of tar.
As for today in the TUS Gaelic Grounds, it would be a struggle to pinpoint why exactly another winning position was coughed up. Is it purely as simple as struggles in the place-kicking department? I remain convinced that Harry Hogan was one of the big ‘finds’ of Andy McEntee’s time in charge but it would be no surprise if the Longwood player is lacking a little bit of confidence.
Certainly in terms of his wandering adventures and place kicking. Though even after the custodian was off target with a late free the same fate befell Jack Flynn. The question could be asked as to whether Donal Lenihan or Diarmuid Moriairity could’ve had a lash at either free but the bottom line is Meath should never have been in the position of needing rescuing.
Jack O’Connor had got the visitors away to a flying start but the fact of the matter is that Ray Dempsey’s team dominated the remainder of the first half, with James Naughton a constant thorn in attack.
Thus the Treaty men were full value for their 0-06 to 0-10 interval advantage. That said, the Meath management didn’t stand on ceremony at the break, introducing Brian Conlon, Daithi McGowan and Diarmuid Moriarity and withdrawing Dan O’Neill, Jason Scully and Shane Walsh.
After the break, things did certainly pick up, with Ronan Jones putting in a powerful display and Jordan Morris and Mathew Costello and Moriarity buzzing in attack. When the first two named above combined brilliantly, culminating in Dunshaughlin’s Costello again demonstrating his keen eye for goal, and the also introduced Donal Lenihan did likewise mere seconds after coming on, expectation would have been for both points to be safely bagged.
Alas, Meath’s all too familiar hesitancy combined with Limerick’s commendable obduracy left their annexation of the required brace of scores for parity almost an inevitability. Nobody could say they didn’t deserve it either.
So, from a Meath perspective, is the glass half full or half empty? Reluctantly, I would probably have to say the latter, if basing judgement on factual analysis. Our inability to hold onto a lead, coupled with unusually high points concessions don’t leave a lot of room for a positives column.
However, our continued ability to score goals is certainly one. Since God was a gasun, to have any hope of beating Dublin, green flags have been a necessity. No matter what else might change between the two old rivals, the fundamentals never will.
Technically speaking, Meath still have a chance of making the league final. Granted, it’s unlikely, but there’s something in the Meath DNA which, when confronted by the two shades of blue, makes the unlikely distinctly possible.
Where there’s life there’s hope.
Scorers – M. Costello (1-3), D. Lenihan (1-0), J. Morris (0-3), D. Moriarity (0-2), J. O’Connor, R. Jones, J. Flynn (0-1 each).
Meath – H. Hogan; A. O’Neill, M. Flood, D. O’Neill; R. Ryan, D. Keogan, S. McEntee; R. Jones, J. Flynn; C. O’Sullivan, J. Scully, J. O’Connor; J. Morris, M. Costello, S. Walsh. Subs – B. Conlon for D. O’Neill, D. McGowan for Scully, D. Moriarity for Walsh, D. Lenihan for McEntee, A. Lynch for O’Sullivan.
Referee – Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)