Dublin got their Allianz National Football League Division 2 campaign back on track with a comfortable eleven-point victory over Meath in Páirc Tailteann on Saturday afternoon.
The Dubs enjoyed a nine-point interval advantage following a dominant and wind-assisted first-half display, and while their opponents improved slightly after the break, they never looked likely to offer sufficient punch in attack to seriously trouble an under-worked away defence.
The late selection of Killian O’Gara was an unquestionable success, with the Templeogue Synge Street player making the most of the opportunity afforded to him, finishing the game with 1-3 to his name.
O’Gara was quick to make his mark, pointing in the third minute to double Dublin’s lead after an earlier score by Brian Fenton and the enterprise that the visitors showed initially was reflected in a third score through Cormac Costello with only four minutes on the clock.
A Diarmuid Moriarty free opened the Meath account in the 8th minute with the hosts subsequently kicking some poor wides, admittedly into the strong wind that blew diagonally towards David O’Hanlon’s goal.
Dublin had their own issues in terms of marksmanship but given the dominance they enjoyed in terms of possession, some errant shooting was never likely to derail their challenge as they kicked four points in quick succession through Lee Gannon, Costello (2) and a fine Con O’Callaghan effort to lead by six points by the end of the first quarter.
However, their momentum stalled briefly as Jack Flynn made light of the elements to kick a superb score for Meath and fortune favoured the hosts in the 21st minute as Matthew Costello’s point effort dropped short into the corner of O’Hanlon’s goal, via the upright.
Tom Lahiff got Dublin back in the groove with a punt from deep that bounced over the crossbar and that lead should have been extended but O’Callaghan blazed wide from close to goal in the 25th minute.
Points from Kilkenny and a cracking score off his left by Fenton restored Dublin’s collective ease and a minute before the break, the gradient became even steeper for the hosts.
O’Hanlon was quick off his line to repel a Meath effort and when James McCarthy was impeded, a quick free released Eoin Murchan up the centre of the field, with his well-timed pass allowing O’Gara the time to place a precise finish past Harry Hogan.
A look at Killian O’Gara’s first half goal #UpTheDubs pic.twitter.com/BglhFloG4I
— Dublin GAA (@DubGAAOfficial) March 18, 2023
O’Gara added a point in added time to leave them well placed at 1-11 to 1-2 by half-time and that margin could have been enhanced within the first five minutes of the second-half.
The teams traded scores at this stage with Gannon and O’Gara on target for Dublin while Aaron Lynch and Costello replied for The Royals but that proved as good as it got for the hosts as O’Callaghan sparked into life.
The Cuala attacker added three points within five minutes to effectively settle the issue with Fenton adding another classy score to re-affirm his side’s supremacy.
The contest petered out from that stage with O’Hanlon once again making a positive intervention when blocking a goal bound effort from Lynch in the 65th minute and while the hosts kicked some consolation points in the closing stages, it was Dublin that finished the game on a high.
There appeared little threat as Colm Basquel gathered possession 40 metres from goal but a trademark burst and jink left three defenders chasing shadows as he provided Costello with the simplest of tasks of palming in from seven metres.
Dublin next face Louth in Round 7 of the Allianz League next Sunday at Croke Park.
Scorers – Dublin: C Costello 1-4 (0-1f, 0-1 ‘45’); K O'Gara 1-3; C O'Callaghan, B Fenton (1f) 0-4 each; L Gannon 0-2; C Kilkenny, S Bugler 0-1 apiece. Meath: M Costello 1-2, (0-1f); J Flynn 0-3, (1 ‘45’); D Moriarty (1f), A Lynch 0-2 each; C Hickey, D Lenihan 0-1 apiece.
Dublin: D O'Hanlon; M Fitzsimons, D Newcombe, D Byrne; J Small, E Murchan, L Gannon; J McCarthy, B Fenton; N Scully, C Kilkenny, T Lahiff; K O'Gara, C O'Callaghan, C Costello. Subs: S Bugler for Scully (28); B Howard for Lahiff (55); C Basquel for O'Gara (62); R Basquel for O'Callaghan (67); C Murphy for Gannon (70).
Meath: H Hogan; A O'Neill, M Flood, H O'Higgins; D Keogan, P Harnan, C Hickey; R Jones, J Flynn; J O'Connor, J Scully, S Crosby; J Morris, M Costello, D Moriarty. Subs: C O'Sullivan for O'Connor, D McGowan for Crosby, A Lynch for Morris (all h/t); D Lenihan for Scully (55); E Harkin for Keogan (61).
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).