The visitors operated a sweeper system which caused their hosts huge problems for much of the game. It’s an approach which didn’t find favour with Kerry boss Eamon Kelly. He explained: “Meath played very well. That sweeper system is difficult to counteract. I hope it does not ruin hurling, the way it’s going. It’s difficult to break down, and they scored 2-18 but we should not have conceded that goal at the end. They were very strong in the air, and I thought we defended that side of it very poorly. We need to break down the sweeper system, so we will have to work on that. But we scored 1-23 which is good total to post.”
Meath started well with Jack Regan unerring from frees and then scoring a goal from a 20th minute penalty. Kerry were relying on Shane Nolan from frees after Colm Harty goaled in the opening minute and they trailed by four (1-9 to 1-13) at the interval. Kerry were much improved on the restart with Patrick Kelly, Keith Carmody, John Egan and Podge Boyle to the fore yet they still trailed 1-18 to 1-15 by the 50th minute.
Kerry, sensing they were in trouble, rallied with Shane Nolan (2) and sub Rory Horgan levelling the contest as Meath visibly wilted. Nolan, Padraig Boyle, Daniel Collins and John O’Neill pushed Kerry five clear before Willie McGrath scored a late consolation goal for the Royals.
S Nolan 0-12 (0-10 frees), C Harty 1-0, P Boyle 0-3, J Egan and D Butler 0-2 each, D Collins, R Horgan, S Weir and J O’Neill 0-1 each
J Regan 1-11 (1-0 pen, 0-7 frees, 0-1 s/c), W McGrath 1-3, J Fagan 0-2, M Burke and E Marsh 0-1 each.
J Logue , B Murphy, P Costello, K Carmody, D Collins, D Dineen, P Kelly, J Griffin, J Egan, C Harty, A Royle, S Nolan, M Boyle, P Boyle, P Lucid.
D Butler for P Lucid (26), S Weir for A Royle (h/t), R Horgan for B Murphy (44), J O’Neill for C Harty (63), J Flaherty for P Boyle (68).
S McCann, C Reilly, S Brennan, S Whitty, K Keoghan, M Burke, S Heavy, J Toher, S Morris, J Fagan, C Bird, J Regan, W McGrath, D Healy, A Douglas.
E Marsh for C Bird (27), P Keogh for D Healy (66), S Quigley for S Morris (69). Referee: D O’Driscoll (Limerick).