THE continued absence of the Wallace brothers, Eamonn and Joey, was the main talking point as champions Ratoath made an impressive start to the defence of their Meath SFC crown at Páirc Tailteann on Friday evening.
The intercounty duo were notable omissions from the Ratoath team sheet for the opening two rounds of the league and they weren’t included in the list of 34 names as the title-holders recorded a facile 5-21 to 2-6 victory over senior rookies Nobber.
The acrimonious departure of last year’s winning manager, former Dublin senior keeper and selector Davy Byrne, had led to some unrest in the Ratoath camp. However present boss Brian Farrell wasn’t available after the game to comment on the whereabouts of his two star forwards.
Incidentally, former county player Farrell was one of the stars for Nobber when they captured the Meath intermediate title in 2019. Since then he has hung up his boots and took over as Ratoath boss following the shock departure of Byrne.
Two of Farrell’s brothers, Niall and Alan lined out with Nobber but they were no match for the champions despite making the best possible start with a point and then a goal from Jordan Morris.
Ratoath were back level by the end of the opening quarter and led by double scores, 2-8 to 1-4 at half-time.
Jack Gillespie and Bryan McMahon struck for goals and they added two more in the space of 30 seconds midway through the third quarter from Connell Ahearne and Daithi McGowan.
County star McMahon was superb throughout for the winners and top-scored with 2-5.
Summerhill, defeated finalists for the last three years, struck late to overcome the brave challenge of Moynalvey for whom Cillian O’Sullivan was in inspirational form.
Barry Dardis (two), Diarmuid McCabe and Conor Frayne hit unanswered points to give the ‘Hill at 0-17 to 1-12 victory.
Moynalvey led by six points early but struggled after losing Padraic Harnan to an injury that could spell bad news for Meath boss Andy McEntee ahead of the Leinster championship.
Michael Deegan marked his return to championship action for Donaghmore/Ashbourne following his transfer from Dublin club Na Fianna with seven points (all frees) as the side managed by his dad Mick overcame Navan O’Mahonys 1-12 to 0-12.
Fiachra Ward hit a hat-trick of goals as Wolfe Tones romped to a 4-11 to 0-12 win over Curraha who had James McEntee sent off early in the second half.
Dunboyne, title winners in 2018, produced a powerful performance to overcome Dunshaughlin, winning 4-12 to 0-9. Donal Lenihan accounted for 2-4 for the winners with one of the goals coming courtesy of a penalty.
Another of the short-list contenders Gaeil Colmcille were hard-pressed to record a 1-17 to 1-12 victory over a James Conlon inspired St Colmcille’s. Seamus Mattimoe hit the all-important goals for the Kells men in the final quarter.
Simonstown Gaels got their campaign off to a winning start but the North Navan outfit left plenty of room for improvement in their 1-14 to 0-11 victory over Skryne.