Meath will meet Dublin in the first of this year's Bank of Ireland Leinster Football Championship semi-finals following this afternoon's comfortable 1-12 to 0-11 victory over neighbours Westmeath at Portlaoise. Meath were always in control of a game which sometimes threatened to reach the excitement levels of last year's dramatic encounters, and their commanding display will have given watching Dublin manager Tommy Lyons plenty of food for thought.
The teams were level six times during an evenly matched first-half, but Meath managed to press home their superiority with an Evan Kelly goal that gave them a 1-07 to 0-06 advantage at the interval. Westmeath ultimately paid the price for their seven wides to Meath's four during the opening 35, while the outstanding form of Meath goalkeeper Cormac O'Sullivan denied them several goal opportunities. However, Royal veteran Ollie Murphy was guilty of the miss of the afternoon when he found himself on the edge of the Westmeath square, but he rushed his punch and could only watch in anguish as it drifted wide.
A feature of Meath's play throughout a highly absorbing contest was the contribution of Hank Traynor, who repeatedly lent tremendous support to the attack from his centre-back berth with his penetrating runs and clever passing. After the break, Paul Shankey got Meath back on the scoresheet almost immediately, before David Shaughnessy and the prolific JP Casey brought the margin down to just three points. However, Shankey then replied for Sean Boylan's men, and two further points from Trevor Giles from frees gave Meath more breathing room.
A Graham Geraghty goal was then harshly disallowed when Cork referee Michael Collins called play back for a foul on Murphy in the build-up, although Giles converted the resulting free. Fergal Wilson, John Keane and Casey with his 7th added late scores for Westmeath, but Meath were not to be denied another intriguing meeting with Dublin at Corke Park on June 23 with a deserved four point victory.
Filed by Shane Murray