We had a picnic down by the river and watched the Fireworks.There were fireworks in Ireland when Meath and Dublin met in the Gaelic football Leinster championship final and Cormac got his photo in the e-papers,Â like the IndependantÂ and even in the Denver Gaels.
BATTLE ROYALE . . . Dublin’s Ian Robertson is confronted by the imposing presence of Meath’s Cormac Murphy during yesterday’s Leinster SFC final at Croke Park
Murphy lays down law
By EUGENE McGEE THERE’S an old saying that if you get the name of being an early riser you can stay in bed ’til dinner-time. It’s much the same with these Dublin-Meath games.
In 1991 they set the country ablaze with all those replays and since then there is a common perception that every time Meath and Dublin meet in the Leinster championship we get great football, drama, excitement and great entertainment.
We don’t, and yesterday drove home that point with a vengeance.
What we got in this latest instalment of the Meath-Dublin derby was a lot of hard effort, a few touches of brilliant football but in the main it was a diet of poor enough football, awful kicking, dreadful attempts at scoring by Dublin, almost 60 frees and the ref could have awarded another 20, and whatever you’re having yourself … .
For the fanatical Meath and Dublin followers the quality, of course, matters little – only the result counts.
And for the rest of us there is at least the satisfaction that the score which formally decided that result in Meath’s favour was the result of the one of the greatest pieces of individual skill we have ever seen in Croke Park or anywhere else.
It came around the 60th minute when Meath were winning by four points but had not totally shaken of the gutsy Dublin second-half performance.
Trevor Giles won a ball in the middle of the field with three Dublin players in close proximity.
One glance towards the Hill 16 goal and then an exquisite foot-pass curled around Ollie Murphy and his marker Peadar Andrews to Murphy’s advantage landing goalside of him.
WITH the form Murphy was in yesterday, he wasn’t going to pass up such a gift from Giles and in a flash the ball was in the back of the net and the Leinster final was over bar the shouting.
And how fitting it was that it should be Ollie Murphy who finished off the poor enough Dublin challenge in the end. He was about the only outstanding forward on the field in this Leinster final and his tally of 1-5 from play proves that.
We knew all season that Dublin had a poor forward line and highly suspect full-back line. Sean Boylan and every Meath player knew that too.
And to rub salt into the wound they made a pre-match switch which saw Murphy lining out on the most inexperienced player in the Dublin team, Peader Andrews.
He got the father and mother of a roasting from the in-form Murphy and it is hard to fathom why the Dublin mentors waited until a few minutes from the end to switch him off the Meath star.
As always nowadays tactics played a big part in this game and generally it was for the worse.
BOTH sets of defenders were constantly drawn out of position by the roaming here, there and everywhere of the opposing forwards.
All this did was create a lot of confusion and bunching from which the defences were the losers.
But the big difference was that Meath had the forwards to punish distracted Dublin defenders but Dublin did not gain from any loosens in the Meath defence because they did not have the forwards to do so.
Dublin’s so-called forwards managed the grand total of TWO POINTS, both from Jim Gavin, from play in the entire Leinster final. The only other score they had from play came from midfielder Ciaran Whelan. The remaining eight Dublin points came from frees.
Granted Dessie Farrell’s early departure did not help but one still has to ask what all the other Dublin forwards were doing if between them they could not score even one point from play. Jason Sherlock again did a lot of prancing and dancing but little else while Declan Darcy was only a pale shadow of the great player he was with Leitrim.
The fact that the forward Dublin brought on to replace Farrell, Ray Cosgrove, was himself taken off in the second-half indicates that confusion about forwards was not confined to the field of play.
DUBLIN got away rather light in the final analysis.
One can only imagine what Tommy Dowd would have done against yesterday’s Dublin backline while Trevor Giles missed three fairly easy frees which he would normally score.
Indeed Giles is still a long way off full match fitness after his injury and Jonathan McGee can feel fairly satisfied with his performance against the Meathman.
But usually in these big matches `class will out’ and it is not the quantity of play which Giles has that is important but the quality.
The nonchalance with which he whipped over a point from long range from a Nigel Nestor pass in the 50th minute was something the Dublin forwards could only dream of.
Ciaran Whelan was outstanding for Dublin once he got going in the second-half but what a pity for the Dubs he did not get into the action from the start.
I thought I detected a nervousness, even slight inferiority complex if one dare suggest such a thing about a Dublin football team, in that opening half.
Even though they were playing with the wind they were often standing back watching Meath players instead of tearing in and devouring them.
This showed itself most in the middle third of the field where in the first half the majority of breaking balls were won by Meath halfbacks and half-forwards.
This is a good indicator of the keenest team and it was a critical factor in helping Meath to largely dominate the opening half.
After half-time Dublin players, or at least a majority of them, did seem to throw caution to the wind, get rid of any inhibitions they had and went for bust.
For about 15 minutes they really troubled Meath as Whelan came more into midfield and McDermott faded somewhat.
IF Dublin had an in-form Paul Curran at that point things might have been different, but I doubt it.
Meath finished far the stronger in this match, as they did against Offaly.
But Meath are still not the finished article. Their half-back and half-forward lines will need to improve and what happens the day Ollie Murphy is held?
But for the moment they are entitled to be favourites for the All-Ireland and any team that beats them will certainly deserve the Sam Maguire Cup.
The motivation NOT to be the first Meath team to lose three successive Leinster finals was an extra spur to Meath.
Sadly Dublin did not seem to have the same level of motivation in their attack and they paid the price. They have started on the road back but need another three or four quality players before dreaming of Sam Maguire again
Dowd faces `semi’ race
MEATH forward Tommy Dowd faces a race against time if he is to make the Meath team for the All Ireland semi-final clash against Armagh on the last Sunday of the month.
Dowd underwent an operation on Saturday on a disc in his back and the player admitted that it will take at least four to six weeks from him to recover.
Although Dowd ruled himself out of the clash with the Ulster champions he will no doubt be given every opportunity to prove his fitness before hand.
The Meath star climbed from his hospital bed to attend Croke Park yesterday and watched on as his team-mates dismantled Dublin in clinical style.
For Dowd the celebrations had to be cut short as the Meath star returned to hospital as soon as the game ended to continue his road to recovery.
A more pressing injury worry for Meath is that of Enda McManus who limped off early in yesterday’s game with a thigh strain.
McManus, like Dowd, will be fighting against the clock to be available for selection for the semi.