The Royals eased their relegation worries with a five-point success against Roscommon at a bitterly cold Dr Hyde Park yesterday. But despite horror showings against Monaghan and Cavan earlier in the league, the former All Star said bad vibes from within the county hadn’t affected the team.
“I’d actually have no idea about any flak. It doesn’t bother me. You’d be very much engrossed in improving our own play and getting our injured lads right, and getting everyone as fit as we can.
“The division is tight enough still. It’s very much on the day. Form isn’t that clear yet I suppose. We’re struggling to get our best team out on the pitch. There are a lot of fellas getting their chances at the moment. A couple of U21s came in there today,” he explained.
The visitors put the game to bed in the opening half with two match-defining goals. The first one had an element of good fortune as Kevin Reilly’s delivery from the half-back line was carried by the wind over the Roscommon defence and goalkeeper Geoffrey Claffey into the net. But the second in the 31st minute incensed the home side when referee Niall Cullen failed to spot a push by Meath substitute Eamonn Wallace in the build-up to Graham Reilly’s three-pointer. It was a decision that Roscommon manager John Evans failed to comprehend afterwards.
“Hard luck played a part but there were some terrible decisions out there. The whole place is talking about Meath’s second goal. Our players were very annoyed at half-time. You have sideline officials, they put their heads down and say nothing when referees make a decision like that. But everybody saw the push.”
Apart from the two goals, points from Cian Ward (two), Brian Newman (two frees), Ciarán Lenihan and David Larkin helped Meath into a 2-6 to 0-3 interval advantage. Roscommon’s only shining light was Conor Devaney who hit five points from play.
“The players showed great heart in the second half. We just lacked a bit of experience in front of goal. If we kept taking our points and showed a bit of composure, we could have got something out of the game.
“There’s a lot of inexperience in the team we have available to us. I’m a lot happier coming off the field today with a five-point loss than I was when we drew with Wicklow last week.”
Roscommon kicked 10 wides in the second half and it enabled Meath to keep the margin comfortable with points from Ward (two frees), Peadar Byrne, Kevin Reilly and sub Paddy Gilsenan.
Scorers for Meath: K Reilly 1-1, C Ward 0-4 (2fs), G Reilly 1-0, B Newman 0-2fs, D Larkin, C Lenihan, P Byrne, P Gilsenan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Roscommon: C Devaney 0-5, K Higgins, D Smith (1f) 0-2 each, D Shine (1f), C Compton, S Oates 0-1 each.
MEATH: P O’Rourke; D Keogan, B Menton, S Curran; C Lenihan, E Harrington, D Dalton; C Gillespie, K Reilly; D Larkin, G Reilly, P Byrne; C Ward, S Bray, M Newman.
Subs: E Wallace for Newman (30), B Dillon for Curran (50), B Meade for G Reilly (52), P Gilsenan for Bray (52), J Queeney for Byrne (68).
ROSCOMMON: G Claffey; N Collins, N Carty, S McDermott; P Brogan, N Daly, C Daly; M Finneran, C Shine; C Cregg, D Shine, K Higgins; D Smith, D O’Gara, C Devaney.
Subs: D Keenan for D Shine (14), C Compton for Brogan (ht), D McDermott for O’Gara (57), S Oates for Cregg (61), J McKeague for McDermott (68).
Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh).