Meath 0-18 Wexford 0-13
Quality of shooting was the ultimate difference between these two sides, with Meath’s superiority in this department earning them a place in the Leinster final.
Wexford had the upper hand for much of this affair but were very wasteful up front. That, allied with the concession of too many frees - nine of which were converted for points by Mickey Newman – cost them dearly.
The Royals weren’t absolutely clinical themselves but they were more economic than their opponents.
Meath wasted a couple of early chances and PJ Banville was unlucky to strike the upright with outside-of-the-boot effort before Ciarán Lyng opened the scoring from a free after five minutes.
That sparked a flurry of scores as Mickey Newman responded in kind but Lyng had a point from play immediately, after Aindreas Doyle and Adrian Flynn sent Daithi Waters into space.
Newman levelled from a free but Wexford’s response was instant, with Ben Brosnan launching a spectacular effort from 47m and Lyng slotting an easy free.
Peadar Byrne halved the deficit after a strong run by Newman but Wexford began to exert increasing pressure due to the superiority of Daithi Waters and Rory Quinlivan in the middle.
As well as winning good possession, the Wexford duo were prominent getting forward but it took the Model County outfit some time to get their due dividend. In the ensuing 10 minutes, they kicked a number of poor wides and also dropped three shots into Paddy O’Rourke’s hands.
Brosnan eventually ended the drought with a 45m free and again, that prompted a short surge of scoreboard movement.
Adrian Flynn put three points between them after a strong catch by Waters, although David Murphy clearly hopped the ball twice in the build-up before Banville found Flynn.
Stephen Bray and Banville exchanged scores before Brian Malone followed a surge with a neat finish to make it double scores, 0-8 to 0-4 with 25 minutes gone.
Wexford didn’t score for the remainder of the first half though and only managed a further five points in the entire game.
Conor Gillespie began to come into the game much more and Meath closed the margin to one by half time, thanks to a brilliant score from Graham Reilly as well as points by Eamonn Wallace and Byrne.
Brosnan had missed a very easy free just before the interval but made up for that straight after the resumption and Malone popped up for his second point soon after.
Malone had his hands full with Reilly, however, and the cultured marksman was on target from the next attack.
The pressure was beginning to show on the Wexford defence and Newman slotted over from three frees to put Meath in front by the 48th minute. When Reilly opted to point, with a real chance of a goal on offer, it was five-in-a-row for Mick O’Dowd’s outfit.
Red Barry drove just over to keep Wexford’s hopes alive and it took a brilliant intervention from Seamus Kenny to deny a certain equaliser.
Newman pointed another free before Lyng almost restored Wexford to the lead, when his shot was tipped over by Paddy O’Rourke. It was a superb effort by Lyng, who was heavily involved in the build-up as well.
Newman, Reilly and Bray enabled Meath to enjoy the final minutes as they pulled away for a slightly flattering margin of victory, but a deserved victory nonetheless.
Meath: M Newman 0-9(fs); G Reilly 0-3; P Byrne, S Bray 0-2 each, E Wallace 0-1
Wexford: C Lyng 0-5(3fs), B Brosnan 0-3(2fs); B Malone 0-2, A Flynn 0-1, PJ Banville 0-1, R barry 0-1
Wexford: A Masterson; R Tierney, G Molloy, M Furlong; B Malone, D Murphy, A Flynn; R Quinlivan, D Waters, PJ Banville, C Lyng, A Doyle, B Brosnan, R Barry, S Roche. Subs: L Chin for Tierney (15-19); C Carty for Molloy (32-34); P Byrne for Roche (54); J Roche for Doyle (54); K Gore for Banville (60); K O’Grady for Brosnan (70)
Meath: P O’Rourke; D Keoghan, K Reilly, B Menton, P Harnan, C King, S Kenny; B Meade, C Gillespie, P Byrne, D Carroll, G Reilly, E Wallace, S Bray, M Newman. Subs: C Lenehan for King (40); J Sheridan for Wallace (48); P Gilsenan for Byrne (52); A Tormey for Meade (60); B McMahon for Reilly (70+1)
Referee: M Deegan (Laois)