Meath justified their pre-match favouritism in the opening round of this year’s All-Ireland Football qualifiers when they recorded a comprehensive 1-20 to 0-8 win over Waterford at Pairc Tailteann on Saturday evening last.
In front of a gathering of about 5,000, it was the Deise that got off to the better start, cancelling out Cormac McGuinness’s early strike and going 0-2 to 0-1 up inside the opening 10 minutes with points from Wayne Hennessy and Patrick Hurney.
However, this was as good as it was going to get for John Kiely’s side as Meath, who made four changes to the team that lost to Dublin in the first round of the Leinster Championship, assumed control in all sectors of the field and led by 0-12 to 0-2 at the break. Chris O’Connor, who started at corner-back and Cormac McGuinness who lined out at centre-back, were among the Royals’ first-half scorers.
The second period was somewhat better for Waterford from a scoring perspective, kicking six scores to the winners’ nine after the change of ends, with the hard-working Liam O Lionain striking the crossbar with an effort on goal shortly after the turnaround. The only green flag of the game was raised in the last minute when substitute Jamie Queeney finished well to add gloss to Meath’s tally.
Eamon O’Brien’s charges on the night had some very good performances. Chris O’Connor who kicked three points over the 70 minutes impressed immensely as did Joe Sheridan, Cian Ward, and Brian Farrell. Waterford saw good displays by the O’Gorman twins and Shane Briggs in the full-back line while at the other end of the field Wayne Hennessy and Liam O Lionain with two points apiece stood out most. Conor McGrath, Tony Grey and Brian Wall also got on the scoresheet.
Meath now march on to the next round of the qualifiers and they will be quietly confident that with a few favourable draws they can have a prolonged involvement in the All-Ireland series.
For Waterford, the players and management will now have to wait until next January for their next competitive game when the McGrath Cup is played prior to the start of the National Leagues.
Once again the question will have to be asked what suffering such a defeat to one of the stronger counties will do for football within Waterford. County Boards, Provincial Councils, ex-Presidents and others that have a vote at congress must ask themselves was it necessary to get rid of the Tommy Murphy Cup as quickly as it was introduced? Okay, the competition may have been low-key but the GAA at Central Council level have to take responsibility for this due to their failure to market it properly.
Over the past number of years hurling has seen the introduction of the Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lowry Maher Cups. It’s time the GAA did the same for football and perhaps clubs in Waterford should set the ball rolling by putting motions before county convention asking for this to happen.
Nobody disputes the workload put in by those involved in the various football teams within the county in a very quite way. Of course maybe if Waterford were able to field their strongest team the picture would be rosier, but for the foreseeable future this isn’t on the cards. So it’s time those personnel we have available were given the opportunity of competing against opposition where they can hold our own and possibly win honours.
Meath: P O’Rourke; C O’Connor, A Moyles, E Harrington; S Kenny, C McGuinness, C King; N Crawford, B Meade; P Byrne, J Sheridan, S McAnarney; D Bray, B Farrell, C Ward. Subs: M Burke for P Byrne, Regan for C McGuinness, S Sheridan for A Moyles, J Queeney for S Kenny, M Ward for N Crawford.
Scorers: Meath: C Ward 0-4 (4f), J Sheridan, C O’Connor, P Byrne 0-3 each, J Queeney 1-0, B Farrell, D Bray (2f), C McGuinness 0-2 each, S McAnarney 0-1.
Waterford: T Wall; S Briggs, T O’Gorman, M O’Gorman; E Rockett, L Lawlor, T Grey; S O’Hare, B Phelan; W Hennessy, B Wall, L O Lionain; S Cunningham, G Power, P Hurney. Subs: C McGrath for G Power, E Walsh for S O’Hare, Ml O’Gorman for S Cunningham, J Phelan for C McGrath.
Scorers: Waterford: W Hennessy (1f), Liam O Lionain 0-2 each, T Grey, P Hurney, C McGrath, B Wall 0-1 each.
Referee: T Quigley (Dublin)