Just a week after beating All-Ireland champions Dublin, the 2010 and 2012 champions slumped to a 15-point mauling in Navan.
Hosts Meath were fluid and sharp throughout and a young team was brilliantly led by wing-forward Cillian O’Sullivan who shot 2-2 and set up several more important scores. But Meath’s progression to next weekend’s final against Kildare in Newbridge was aided in no small way by DCU’s lacklustre performance.
O’Sullivan booted the game’s opening score in the fourth minute, a goal, and Meath led from there until full-time as they maintained their unbeaten start to the year. Moyna refused to blame the heavy defeat ahead of their Sigerson Cup campaign on the amount of key players they were missing including Dubs stars James McCarthy and Dean Rock. And he similarly rejected the suggestion that the players’ preparations were hampered by the controversy over the biting saga.
Leinster Council disciplined officials launched a probe last Wednesday evening into suggestions that a DCU player was bitten by a Dubliner during last Sunday’s O’Byrne Cup group game.
“It wasn’t an issue all week,” insisted Moyna. “It hasn’t been mentioned in the squad since last Sunday. It’s being dealt with by the management of the GAA club”
As for his team’s performance yesterday, Moyna admitted they were beaten by the strongest team that they have faced so far in the competition.
It was pleasing from Meath manager Mick O’Dowd’s perspective as he inched closer to his first piece of silverware without key players like Stephen Bray, Conor Gillespie and captain Kevin Reilly.
In their absence, O’Sullivan stood up to the plate while Dalton McDonagh, David Bray and Damien Carroll were all lively performers in attack.
A new look midfield pairing of Shane O’Rourke and Andrew Tormey did well though there will be questions marks over their defence following the concession of three goals.
Mickey Burke played a novel full-back role and performed well for the most part while forward Paddy Gilsenan was used at wing-back again.
“It was a good performance from the start,” said O’Dowd. “A good score line to put up. But our shooting again, especially in the first-half, could have been better. We have a bit to improve on. The concession of goals in the second-half is another area. Overall it was quite a good performance but I’d qualify everything by saying we have played three college teams.
“We have only played one county team and that was Wicklow. It is a pre-season tournament and it is important that players who are training hard get action.
“Years ago, the opening rounds of the league was when fellas were tried out. That’s changed. It’s such a competitive league now that you need to be ready from the start. That’s what the O’Byrne Cup is about.
“We’d be very aware of what it is, pre-season. The league starts in two weeks.”
DCU simply couldn’t handle Meath’s superior movement and sharpness early on. O’Sullivan roamed around the attack, pulling the strings, and he picked off two excellent goals while Tormey thundered home a penalty kick.
Conor McGraynor’s 17th minute palmed goal was about all DCU had to cheer as they trailed 3-8 to 1-3 at half-time.
They’re preparing for a Sigerson Cup opener with IT Tralee or NUIG and did at least finish strongly at Pairc Tailteann with goals from Conor McHugh and Jack Brady.
But Meath were never in any danger and were able to bring Mickey Newman from the bench to boot four points for them.
Scorers for Meath: C O’Sullivan (2-2, two frees), D Bray (1-2), A Tormey (1-1, one penalty), M Newman (0-4, two frees, one 45), D McDonagh (0-3), D Carroll (0-2, one 45), G Reilly, P Gilsenan, P McKeever and D Larkin (0-1 each).
Scorers for DCU: C McHugh (1-2), C McGraynor and J Brady (1-0 each), B Donnelly (0-2, two frees), T Flynn (one free) and G Kelly (one free, 0-1 each).
MEATH: P O’Rourke; D Keogan, M Burke, D Dalton; D Tobin, E Harrington, P Gilsenan; S O’Rourke, A Tormey; C O’Sullivan, D McDonagh, G Reilly; D Carroll, D Bray, D Lenihan.
Subs: M Newman for Reilly (h/t), B McMahon for Lenihan (51), P McKeever for McDonagh (53), C Sheridan for Tormey (58), C Young for Tobin (58), D Larkin for O’Rourke (66).
DCU: J Farrelly (Cavan); W Lowry (Dublin), C Dunleavy (Dublin), C Cafferkey (Roscommon); E Murray (Galway), D Byrne (Dublin), P Dooney (Monaghan); B Donnelly (Louth), T Flynn (Galway); C McHugh (Dublin), P Fox (Meath), M Quinn (Longford); M McCarthy (Dublin), C McGraynor (Wicklow), D Wrynn (Leitrim).
Subs: E O’Connor (Louth) for Flynn, black card, (11), G Kelly (Galway) for McCarthy (17), K Ward (Louth) for Lowry (20), E Smith (Roscommon) for Fox (25), J Brady (Cavan) for Smith (42), F Kelly (Roscommon) for Ward (45).
Referee: N Ward (Westmeath).