Seven goals, including two from Mickey Newman inside a Championship record 31 seconds provided the basis for a 7-13 to 0-06 win for Meath over Carlow in the last of the Leinster SFC quarter-finals, this afternoon at Dr Cullen Park.
It was a game in which Meath never trailed, but while the visitors were comfortable 28-point winners in the end, strangely by the look of the score-board at least, Carlow held dominant patches in this match.
Anthony Rainbow’s side controlled possession for long spells in the opening half, but were unable to convert this to scores, and indeed by the interval amassed eight wides, with countless other chances finishing short.
Meath were far more clinical, with Newman, Brian McMahon and Stephen Bray raising green flags as the Royals led by 3-06 to 0-02 at the break.
Carlow battled hard, with Graham Power and Richard Mahon, along with goalkeeper Pat Coady trying their best in defence.
The hosts claimed the first score of the second half through Seamus Kinsella, but the floodgates opened with Andrew Tormey firing Meath’s fourth goal, and Newman and substitute Dalton McDonagh all adding further majors on the way to a facile win.
Both sides started with unchanged line-ups from those named midweek, and on the pitch from the throw-in the hosts certainly put it up to the opposition, hoping to find some of the form which saw them capture a draw against the Royals in Tullamore two years ago.
Just once had Carlow beaten Meath in competitive Senior action, but this came in the O’Byrne Cup in 2002.
The hosts were eager in the opening minutes, and by the 10th minute they had registered three wides, with three other efforts finishing in the hands of Meath goalkeeper Paddy O’Rourke.
Crucially Meath had the only score on the board at this stage, with Newman opening their account with a point after seven minutes.
Andrew Tormey doubled the Royals lead in the 12th minute, but crucially for the visitors, Carlow struggled to find their shooting boots.
Paul Broderick eventually got their first score seven minutes later with a pointed 45 metre free, but Meath quickly responded with a Shane O’Rourke score.
Disaster struck for Carlow when Newman bagged a 24th-minute penalty to open up a five-point lead.
Carlow needed a score quickly and continued to create the chances, with Ciaran Moran cutting through for a goal chance, but his 27th-minute effort blazed wide of the posts.
Carlow got the next score from Broderick, but crucially Meath responded well, registering 2-02 unanswered before the break.
Brian McMahon opened up a 2-05 to 0-02 lead, after he netted following an Andrew Tormey pass, with Stephen Bray completing the Royals hat-trick a minute from the interval to endure a 3-06 to 0-02 half-time lead.
Meath introduced Seamus Kenny after the break, and the veteran Royals attacker certainly made an impact, with the Simonstown Gaels clubman scoring two excellent points on the restart.
Seamus Kinsella opened Carlow’s account inside the opening minute of the second half, but Carlow could only manage three further points in the closing 35 minutes, as Meath ran rampant.
Meath’s fourth goal came after the resulting kick-out, with Tormey smashing the ball to the roof of the Carlow net.
Mick O’Dowd’s charges should have claimed their fifth goal in the 41st minute, after Newman rounded Carlow keeper Coady, but his shot initially rebounded off the back of the advancing Daniel St Ledger, and then the ball bounced back off the crossbar into safety.
Broderick kept Carlow ticking over on the scoreboard, but Meath fired back with an unanswered 2-04.
Both goals came from Newman in a 31-second spell in the 49th minute, as Meath moved 6-09 to 0-04 ahead.
Meath became wayward in front of the posts in the closing 10 minutes, amassing four wides in as many attacks, but once again found their shooting boots at the death with substitute Dalton McDonagh bagging their seventh goal.
Meath now face neighbours Kildare in a semi-final on 29 June at Croke Park, and Lilywhites boss Jason Ryan will no doubt by trying hard to curb an eager Royals attack.
For Carlow it’s the Qualifiers route, and a date with Waterford, who lost last night in the Munster championship to Clare.
Meath: P O’Rourke; C Young, K Reilly, M Burke; P Harnan, D Keogan, D Carroll (0-01); B Meade, S O’Rourke (0-02,1f); D Tobin (0-01), B McMahon (1-01), A Tormey (1-03); G Reilly, S Bray (1-00). M Newman (3-02, 1-00pen, 1f).
Subs: S Kenny (0-02) for Keogan (HT); A Flanagan for Meade (46); D McDonagh (1-00) for G Reilly (50); M O’Sullivan (0-01) for Burke (53); P Gilsenan for Bray (54); D Lenihan for McMahon (60).
Carlow: P Coady; R Mahon, S Mernagh, BJ Molloy; G Power, D St. Ledger, B Kavanagh; D Foley, H Gahan; M Meaney, C Moran, D Bambrick; P Broderick, (0-05, 3f, 1 45), S Kinsella (0-01, 1f), C Coughlan.
Subs: C Lawlor for Mernagh (HT); K Nolan for Power (42); E Ruth for Foley (45); W Minchin for Moran (46); J Kennedy for Kinsella (54).
Referee: Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry).