A record ninth Leinster SFC title in a row for Dublin but one that came in slightly unusual circumstances.
This wasn’t vintage Dublin but then they didn’t have to be so poor was Meath’s shooting. In keeping the All-Ireland champions to nine points for the first 55 minutes of action, their defence was living up to its side of the bargain but the team’s shot-taking was abysmal as they kicked 12 wides, four short and hit the post twice.
Injuries to James McCarthy and Brian Howard took a little shine off the win in front of a 47,027 Croke Park crowd. But credit must be given to Dublin’s defence who were largely impressive, Philly McMahon giving a timely reminder of his quality.
With the contest long over, Con O’Callaghan grabbed the only goal of the game in the 68th minute assisted by substitute Dean Rock who, in his first Championship appearance of the year, also sent over four points.
A surreal first-half concluded with Dublin leading 0-5 to 0-1 but they had failed to score for the final 15 minutes of action. It took them until the 12th minute to score too and Paul Mannion also saw his penalty come back off the post in the 29th minute after Conor McGill had impeded O’Callaghan.
McGill had been excellent in setting out his stall early on and Shane Gallagher was almost as impressive in nullifying Dublin’s opening attacks but not enough was being done to replicate their interventions by their team-mates at the other end of the field. By the break, Meath had converted one of 10 scoring opportunities.
Dublin got going with three points in the space of as many minutes and when Paul Mannion and Brian Howard added scores in the 22nd and 25th minutes the task for Meath was look taller.
But after the penalty let-off, McCarthy made way after sustaining a knee injury and when Bryan Menton broke Meath’s duck in the 33rd minute there was a sense of relief. Cormac Costello then struck a makeable free wide but more poor Meath shooting was to follow and all they had for their efforts in the opening half was that Mention point.
Scorers for Dublin: D. Rock (0-4, 1 free); C. Costello (0-3, 2 frees, 0-1 45); C. O’Callaghan (1-0); P. Mannion (0-3); J. McCaffrey (0-2); C. Kilkenny, B. Howard, P. McMahon, B. Fenton. P. Andrews (0-1 each).
Scorers for Meath: M. Newman (0-3, 1 free); B. Menton (0-1).
S. Cluxton (c); P. McMahon, M. Fitzsimons, J. McCaffrey; D. Byrne, C. O’Sullivan, J. Small; B. Fenton, J. McCarthy; N. Scully, C. Kilkenny, B. Howard; C. Costello, P. Mannion, C. O’Callaghan.
Subs for Dublin: M.D. Macauley for J. McCarthy (inj 32); D. Rock for B. Howard (inj 52); K. McManamon for C. Costello (59); P. Small for C. Kilkenny (62); P. Andrews for P. Small (inj 65); R. O’Carroll for J. McCaffrey (68).
A. Colgan; C. McGill, S. Lavin, S Gallagher; J. McEntee, D. Keogan (j-c), R. Ryan; B. Menton (j-c), S. McEntee; C. O’Sullivan, B. McMahon, G. Reilly; B. Brennan, J. Conlon, M. Newman.
Subs for Meath: S. Tobin for B. Brennan (39); E. Devine for G. Reilly (inj 40); T. O’Reilly for J Conlon (54); B. Dardis for S. McEntee (59); S. Curran for S. Gallagher, T, McGovern for B. McMahon (both 66(.
Referee: S. Hurson (Tyrone).