Meath give Carlow a Royal dose

Meath manager Colm Coyle revealed that despite the possibility of inflicting a heavy defeat over Carlow - which eventually materialised at Croke Park yesterday, he still approached his side's Leinster championship opener with caution.

Meath were depleted following suspensions to Seamus Kenny, Niall McKeigue, Shane McAnarney, Nigel Crawford and Brendan Murphy after the 'Parnell Park fracas' and Coyle confessed that he did not envisage having it easy against the Barrowsiders.

"The first round of the championship, you're always a bit wary. It's a step into the unknown. We were missing so many lads, we were expecting Carlow to come at us in the first 20 minutes but realistically, I think the game was over after 20 minutes," Coyle said after Meath's thumping 1-25 to 0-8 victory.

Although disappointed that the game did not pose a stiffer test for his players, the Royals boss was still understandably pleased to have qualified for a Leinster quarter-final.

"It kind of fizzled out in the end. You never like to see the opposition getting a beating like that. We were happy to get the win and move into the next round of the Leinster championship.

"It wasn't really that competitive to be honest about it. But we ran up a 20-point win in the end. The last time we were here, we were on the end of a 10-point beating and that's even double that again. So, it's not nice."

Coyle believes that a first-round clash always has the potential to be a banana skin game - no matter who the opposition are. He pointed to Wicklow's earlier victory over Kildare as evidence of this.

"It's a step into the unknown," he said. "Look at Kildare. They were red hot favourites against Wicklow and Wicklow turned them over.

"There was always that possibility but I had confidence in the panel. We knew as far as a month back that we'd be missing the five lads."

Last year Meath took the qualifier route to book an All-Ireland semi-final spot against Cork.

Coyle knows a lot of hard work lays ahead before the June 1 quarter-final against Wexford, which he feels will be an indicator of whether or not the Royals have progressed since last summer.

"We'll know that (if we have made progress) in two weeks time. In 1996, we kicked 24 points against Carlow and we had four debutants so I hope these four (newcomers that we had today) match their predecessors," he added.

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