Four straight defeats, and Meath are teetering on the brink of relegation.
Should they lose their final league game against neighbours Louth, they will almost certainly tumble into Division Three.
A listless performance against an already promoted Tyrone team that had nothing to play for heaped the pressure on Seamus McEnaney.
The Meath boss chose not to face the media following this 10 points drubbing at Healy Park, but selector Tom Keague admitted that there’s a crisis that must be faced.
Keague said: “We’re the only ones who can dig ourselves out of this. Two weeks ago we were looking towards promotion, and now we have to win this last game to avoid relegation. We’re so flat at the minute. Between players, manager, selectors, we have to turn this thing around very quickly.”
After winning against Monaghan and Westmeath, the Meath men were confident and upbeat, but all that has changed dramatically.
Keague continued: “It has got worse each game. We tried our hardest, but Tyrone were by far the superior team. They were far sharper all over the field and were winning all the breaks. We have a huge game against Louth. There’s no-one blaming anyone. We’re all in this together.
“It’s a lonely place out there on that sideline, a lonely place for the players, a lonely place when things are not going well.
Stephen O’Neill punched in a fifth minute goal, and Meath were chasing, ever more desperately, the game after that.
The Red Hands stepped on the gas in the final 10 minutes of the first half, two points each from O’Neill and Seán Cavanagh making it 0-6 to 0-3 at the halfway stage, with Cian Ward the only Meath player to raise a flag.
“They’re well organised, but we knew that, and we gave away a very sloppy goal early on and that set the tone,” said Keague.
“We knew six points was a lot at half-time, but we still felt we could get it back to three. But it as never going to happen, because Tyrone got the first few scores and set the tone for the second half, and we were just playing catch-up all over the field.”
Even with wind advantage, Meath could not turn the game around, and points from Kyle Coney (2), Mark Donnelly and Cathal McCarron soon had Tyrone ahead by 10 points.
The Leinster men managed just two second half points, and played the last 20 minutes with 14 men after full-back Kevin Reilly was booked for a second time.
“They went nine ahead, it was curtains from early on, and then we lost Kevin Reilly with about 20 minutes to go. It was damage limitations then.
“Apart from the goal, we felt we were giving as good as we got for 25 minutes, but we definitely lost our way and Tyrone got on top for the last 10 minutes of the first half.”
Scorers for Tyrone: S O’Neill 1-2, K Coney 0-4 (4f), P Harte, S Cavanagh (1f) 0-2 each, A Cassidy, C McCarron 0-1 each. Scorers for Meath: C Ward 0-3 (1f, 1 ’45), S Bray (f), G Reilly 0-1 each.
TYRONE: J Devine, A McCrory, Justin McMahon, C Gormley, C McCarron , P Harte, R McMenamin, A Cassidy, C Cavanagh, R McNabb, Mark Donnelly, S Cavanagh, K Coney, N McKenna, S O’Neill.
Subs: O Mulligan for O’Neill, J Lafferty for Coney, C Girvan for Donnelly, S McNally for McNabb.
MEATH: D Gallagher, M Burke, K Reilly, C King, S McAnarney, B Menton, D Tobin, T Walsh, M Ward, S Kenny, S Bray, G Reilly, P Gilsenan, J Queeny, C Ward.
Subs: B Meade for Walsh, B Farrell for Kenny, C Gillespie for M Ward, D Carroll for G Reilly.
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).
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