Dublin returned to GAA HQ last weekend and their knowledge of the vast pitch was evident. They ruthlessly put Laois to the sword to continue their quest for a tenth Leinster Championship on the run. Meanwhile, Kildare vs Meath was a far more tightly contested semi-final. But, by the end Meath were comfortable winners after being six-points down at the beginning of the second-half.
A few weeks ago, Dublin vs Meath saw the reigning champions claim a four-point win in the league. On that occasion, Dublin came out on top of a high-scoring encounter. However, Meath showed that they have the tools to hurt Dessie Farrell’s team. Direct runs from deep proved hard for Dublin to deal with and resulted in plenty of frees within scoring distance.
Last weekend, the same direct running style saved the Royals when they looked down against Kildare. Meath managed just four points in the first-half as opposed to Kildare’s eleven. As the sides took the field for the second part of the contest, things were looking desolate for Meath. But, they soon showed the hunger and drive that saw them compete with some of the best in Division 1 of the League.
Jordan Morris and Matthew Costello both found the net just minutes after the restart. The two goals were excellent examples of how hard running and moving the ball quickly can open up defences. That brought the deficit back to a point. Then, when Cillian O’Sullivan scored Meath’s third goal in the 45th minute after a turnover high up the pitch, Meath never looked back. Joey Wallace and Jason Scully added two more majors before full time. This came just a week after they netted seven against Wicklow.
On the other hand, it was just the two goals for Dublin as they swatted aside the challenge of Laois. The Dubs don’t need goals in the same way other teams do though as their 23 points would have likely been enough to win a game in itself.
In truth, Dublin were slow to get going as uncharacteristic errors peppered the first quarter. For example, Paddy Small hit a hat-trick of wides, James McCarthy was dispossessed twice, and Cluxton sent a kick-out over the sideline. Then, they found their rhythm and Sean Bugler’s 24th minute goal justified his continued selection at wing-forward.
Likewise, Ciarán Kilkenny continues to perform at the top of his game. A personal 1-4 tally looked effortless. Brian Fenton looked as dangerous as ever. He scored four points that could have easily included a goal. Furthermore, Cormac Costello stole the headlines despite only playing 25 minutes. Seven points from him is surely enough for Dessie Farrell to finally consider putting Costello in from the start. However, Costello could be his own worst enemy by proving himself as an impact sub over and over again.
Meath may have the tools to threaten Dublin but there’s little doubt they will need to continue their goal-scoring run to do so. 12 goals in 2 games is a promising trend to carry into such an encounter, but they need to be equally as tigerish in defence. Farrell won’t underestimate Andy McEntee’s team and his instructions will be for his players to come out firing. The first 20 minutes of this game will be played at breakneck speed. The other fifty will give us a demonstration of the gap between Dublin and the chasing Leinster pack.
The Royal County last won Leinster in 2010 after that controversial final against Louth. Since then, they have lost to Dublin in four finals.
The Leinster Final is live on RTÉ on Saturday.
Dublin are 1/20 with Paddy Power. Meath are 9/1 and a draw is 25/1.
Leinster Football Final: Dublin vs Meath, Saturday, 21st November, 19:00 (Croke Park).
— The GAA (@officialgaa) November 17, 2020
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