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Senior Footballers progress to Leinster Semi Final with win over Meath

Senior Footballers progress to Leinster Semi Final with win over Meath

Sun, 14th April 2024


MEATH 0-12

Dublin progressed to the last four of the Leinster Senior Football Championship when getting the better of near neighbours Meath by sixteen points at Croke Park on Sunday afternoon.

The contest itself won’t live long in the memory as Dublin welcomed the return of both Stephen Cluxton and Michael Fitzsimons to their starting line-up while James McCarthy was introduced as a second-half substitute in front of a disappointing crowd of 21,000.

An excellent Seán Bugler goal in the 20th minute was the highlight of a mediocre first-half that saw the holders build-up a five-point buffer by the break.

A lack of intensity continued upon the resumption as Dublin added gloss to the final scoreline through second-half goals by Paul Mannion and Con O’Callaghan.

It was Meath that made the more encouraging start as they opened the scoring through late addition Darragh Campion inside thirty seconds.

That advantage was doubled three minutes later as midfielder Ronan Jones slipped in behind the Dublin defence when claiming an uncontested mark and he duly converted from thirty metres.

Dublin has been dispossessed a couple of times on their limited breaks into Meath territory but they gained some reward for their efforts as Paul Mannion curled over a trademark effort in the 6th minute.

The Dubs lacked cohesion at times but gradually showed signs of life up front with Ciarán Kilkenny levelling matters in the 13th minute before Mannion edged them ahead from a free two minutes later.

While Mathew Costello restored parity at the opposite end, Dublin’s running game was beginning to take effect and from one such break, Bugler raced through the middle before finding the roof of Billy Hogan’s net from eight yards.

Dublin threatened to cut loose at this stage as Mannion added a quick-fire brace but Meath’s attack offered a threat of its own as Eoghan Frayne and Jordan Morris popped over tidy points.

While Stephen Cluxton lacked his usual accuracy from restarts, Dublin still managed to secure enough possession as Colm Basquel and Con O’Callaghan added to their tally as the half evolved.

Another Basquel point in the 29th minute stretched Dublin’s lead to six points by the 29th minute but a free by Frayne saw Meath enter the break facing a five-point (1-8 to 0-6) deficit.

A Niall Scully ‘mark’ restored Dublin’s six-point buffer within a minute of the restart while John Small swivelled sharply to point off his left soon after as Dublin took control of the Meath kick-outs.

From isolated possession, Morris kicked two smart scores by return and there were further isolated moments of promise for Meath as James Conlon and Ciarán Caulfield also troubled the umpires.

However, Dublin were equally adept at the opposite end as Kilkenny, Mannion and O’Callaghan availed of the increasingly generous amounts of space afforded to them.

Mannion pounced at the far post in the 59th minute to effectively settle the issue and while Dublin butchered a number of chances from that point, there was still time for O’Callaghan to fire home off his left foot to complete a comprehensive victory for the holders.

Scorers – Dublin: P Mannion 1-6 (0-3f), C O’Callaghan 1-2 (0-1 mark), S Bugler 1-0, C Kilkenny 0-3, C Basquel, J Small 0-2 each, C Murphy, N Scully (mark), P Small, C Costello 0-1 apiece. Meath: E Frayne (2f), J Morris 0-3 each, M Costello (f), R Jones (mark), C Caulfield, B Hogan (‘45’), J Conlon, D Campion 0-1 apiece.

Dublin: S Cluxton; E Murchan, M Fitzsimons, S MacMahon; S Bugler, J Small, C Murphy; T Lahiff, B Howard; R McGarry, C Basquel, C Kilkenny; P Mannion, C O’Callaghan, N Scully. Subs: J McCarthy for Basquel (50), P Small for Scully (52), C Costello for Mannion (61), K McGinnis for McGarry (61), P Ó Cofaigh Byrne for J Small (65).

Meath: B Hogan; H O’Higgins, D Keogan, A O’Neill; S Coffey, R Ryan, C Caulfield; R Jones, D McGowan; M Costello, D Campion, C Hickey; E Frayne, J Conlon, J Morris. Subs: J O’Connor for Campion (half-time), C McBride for McGowan (45), K Curtis for Morris (58), R Kinsella for Ryan (58), A Lynch for Conlon (61).

Referee: Thomas Murphy (Galway).

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