A stalemate was the last thing the Leinster Council would have wanted after the cold snap had put the squeeze on their fixture list. With that in mind, the replay has been fixed for Navan on Wednesday evening but it shouldn’t be required at all. The plan was that two more periods of five minutes apiece would be played in the event of a continued stalemate after extra-time but, with spectators streaming on to the pitch, that idea was abandoned.
The thing is, it should have been done and dusted after the 70 minutes when Dublin were leading by a point well into injury-time. Under the new rules, all they had to do was kick to touch and the referee could blow the final whistle.
Instead, Bernard Brogan twice attempted points from a considerable distance. Both ended up in the goalkeeper’s arms and Niall Mooney made them pay with a point of his own at the other end.
Meath manager Eamon O’Brien was well aware of the let-off. He said: “There must have been a four or five-minute spell when the ball didn’t go out of play. Thankfully, from our point of view, we got to work the ball up the field from one of those chances and got the equalising score.”
Something similar happened, but in reverse, at the end of extra-time when David Bray kicked an effort short to Stephen Cluxton and Dublin worked the ball to Colin Daly to kick over the equalising score.
Those were two of the more glaring mistakes but, as Gilroy acknowledged, there were “hundreds” of them on his side alone as both managers continued to run the rule over new applicants.
Meath had a handful more ‘vets’ on board and it showed in a first half where Joe Sheridan and Jamie Queeney stole the show with a menacing partnership that threatened to overwhelm Dublin’s defence.
They claimed a haul of five points in that period alone but they could have added to the swag with a couple of goals had Lady Luck been on their side on two occasions when Meath targeted them with high ball around the small square.
They were less conspicuous after the interval as that service began to dry up but Meath were still cantering along at their leisure until Bernard Brogan, on as a half-time sub, hit them for 1-1 which gave Dublin the lead for the first time.
Meath hit back with a three-point spree inside five minutes before Dublin responded with a hat-trick of their own and on it went into extra-time with a ‘whatever you can do, we can do better’ trading of scores that included a goal from Kevin McManamon on one side and Sheridan on the other.
A Kevin Bonner point stretched Dublin’s lead back to two before Meath again landed a flurry of blows with three successive points but it seemed inevitable that someone would pop up and force them to do it all over again.
So it proved.
Scorers for Dublin: B Brogan 1-3 (0-1f), K McManamon 1-0, B Kelly 0-2 (1f), D Henry 0-2, M McAuley 0-1, T Diamond 0-1, A Hubbard 0-1, D Kelly 0-1, J Brogan 0-1, D Rock 0-1, K Bonner 0-1, C Daly 0-1.
Scorers for Meath: J Queeney 0-7 (2f), J Sheridan 1-2 (1 ‘45’), D Bray 0-3 (2f), N Mooney 0-3, S Bray 0-2, G Reilly 0-1.
DUBLIN: S Cluxton; P Conlon, P Casey, C McCormack; A Hubbard, S Murray, D Nelson; E Fennell, M McAuley, J Brogan, T Diamond, D Henry; D Kelly, B Kelly, K McManamon.
Subs: P Griffin for J Brogan (35), D Rock for B Kelly (35), B Brogan for D Kelly (44), D Carrigan for Diamond (49), K Bonner for Murray (60), S O’Shaughnessy for Henry (86), C Daly for McCormack (86), J Brogan for Conlon (90).
MEATH: D Lyons; E Harrington, J Macken, D Dalton; S Kenny, C McGuinness, G Reilly; C Gillespie, M Ward; N Mooney, J Sheridan, P Byrne; D Bray, J Queeney, S Kennedy.
Subs: G O’Brien for Kenny (9), B Meade for Ward (35), N McKeigue for Harrington (41), S Bray for Kennedy (54), S McAnarney for Byrne (82), S Sheridan for Mooney (86).
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).