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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 21 February, 2020


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Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage of the 132nd Leinster Senior Football Championship final, as old rivals Dublin and Meath clash at Croke Park.

I say old rivals and, well, the operative word is ‘old’ because it hasn’t been much of a rivalry of late. Dublin v Meath is now one of the flagship fixture in the argument against provincial championships in football: the Dubs will today go looking for their 14th Leinster title in 15 years, and they’ve won the last five deciders with a combined 71 points to spare. Against Meath alone, the Dubs have won their last three encounters by 34 points on aggregate.

Stephen Bray celebrates scoring Stephen Bray celebrates a goal in the 2010 Leinster semi-final against Dublin. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Ciaran Kilkenny and Brian Fenton celebrate Ciaran Kilkenny and Brian Fenton celebrate a comfortable victory over Meath in 2016. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

However, the only team to derail them in Leinster over the last 15 years was Meath themselves — albeit it was nine years ago when the Royals fired five goals past Stephen Cluxton in an 11-point win at the provincial semi-final stage, and only two Meath players — Graham Reilly and Bryan Menton — survive from the panel which emerged victorious that day.

This year, Meath have seen off Offaly, Carlow and Laois while the Dubs have cruised to the final with wins over Louth and Kildare.

Throw-in is at 4pm, and we’ll have team news shortly.

The teams are in the building…

Jim Gavin Jim Gavin arrives at Croker. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Andy McEntee Andy McEntee hops off the Meath bus. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Jack McCaffrey Jack McCaffrey in good spirits as he heads for the dressing room. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Seamus Lavin Seamus Lavin and Meath have their game-faces on... Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Team news

Three changes to tell you about — two for Meath and one for the Dubs.

For Dublin, Philly McMahon is in for Michael Darragh McCauley, so it now looks like James McCarthy will partner Brian Fenton in midfield.

For Meath, Graham Reilly is in for Gavin McCoy and Shane McEntee replaces Adam Flanagan.


Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)

David Byrne (Naomh Olaf)
Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf)

Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams)
Cian O’Sullivan (Kilmacud Crokes)
John Small (Ballymun Kickhams)

Brian Fenton (Raheny)
James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)

Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street)
Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille)
Brian Howard (Raheny)

Ciarán Kilkenny (Castleknock)
Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes)
Con O’Callaghan (Cuala)

Philly McMahon takes to the pitch Philly McMahon starts for the Dubs. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO


Andrew Colgan (Donaghmore Ashbourne)

Seamus Lavin (St Peter’s, Dunboyne)
Conor McGill (Ratoath)
Shane Gallagher (Simonstown Gaels)

Donal Keogan (Rathkenny)
Ronan Ryan (Drum Shamhraidh)
Graham Reilly (St Colmcille’s)

Bryan Menton (Donaghmore Ashbourne)
Shane McEntee (Dunboyne)

Ben Brennan (St Colmcilles)
Bryan McMahon (Ratoath)
James McEntee (Curraha)

Cillian O’Sullivan (Moynalvey)
Michael Newman (Kilmainham)
James Conlon (St Colmcilles)

Shane McEntee and Johnny Moloney Shane McEntee is a late replacement for Meath. Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

What do ye think?

Only a few minutes remaining until throw-in.

Is anyone — even those of you from Meath — backing Meath to do it today? Dare ye dream?

Who’ve you got?

Poll Results:

Dublin (345)
Meath (150)

Amhrán na bhFiann finishes up at Croker. It’s gametime!


Dublin 0-0 Meath 0-0: Meath have a good opportunity to open their account but Ben Brennan’s free from the left comes down off the post. Michael Newman reacts quickest but the ball winds up drifting well wide on the right. Still scoreless.


Dublin 0-0 Meath 0-0: Superb block down on James McCarthy — I think it was by Ben Brennan — and Meath break down the other end. The ball is fired in towards the Royals’ full-forward line but Dublin scramble it clear amid mild protestations by Meath players.


Dublin 0-0 Meath 0-0: Meath coming out on top in their own full-back line thus far. Impressive start by them defensively but not much happening up the other end yet.


Dublin 0-0 Meath 0-0: Still scoreless after 10 minutes. Meath ever so calm at the back and forcing Dublin errors, but once Meath themselves gain possession they’re panicky and wasteful.

Cormac Costello fires the Dubs’ first wide down the other end.


Dublin 0-1 Meath 0-0: Ciaran Kilkenny captalises on a bad kick-out by Andre Colgan and draws a lovely shot back inside the right-hand post. The champions lead — and finally we have a score!


Dublin 0-2 Meath 0-0: McAffrey doubles his side’s lead with a tap-over after charging free of his marker.


Dublin 0-3 Meath 0-0: Cracks beginning to appear in the Meath defence now as McCaffrey again waltzes through but is eventually smothered as he loses control of the ball. Costello converts the resulting 45′.


Dublin 0-3 Meath 0-0: James McEntee is in the book after hastily trying to drag Paul Mannion to his feet — this after another McEntee, Shane, handed Mannion off to the face as he attempted to come out with the ball to take a free. Shane McEntee escapes punishment where he probably deserved a yellow himself.

Meath have hit the post since, while John Small has fired one just wide for the Dubs.

Dublin look comfortable, in truth.


Dublin 0-4 Meath 0-0: Paul Mannion kicks a beauty from the right-hand side. A long way out, he cuts back in on his left and launches a missile between the sticks. Four points to no score after 21 minutes.


Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-0: Beautifully worked move by the champions results in Brian Howard fisting over from the right-hand side. Meath need a score, here. They’ve hit the post twice but really haven’t fashioned a guilt-edged opportunity even for a point yet.


Penalty for Dublin!

Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-0: Con O’Callaghan gets in behind the Meath rearguard and he’s hauled down as he shoots for goal. Penalty!


Penalty missed!

Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-0: Paul Mannion drills his penalty low to Colgan’s left-hand side but it rattles the post and Meath come away with it! A huge let-off for the Royals.

Can it spur them into action up the other end?


A Meath fan on Hill 16 This Meath fan in The Hill enjoyed Mannion's penalty miss just in front of him... Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-0: A superb intervention by Conor McGill keeps Meath in it as Dublin attempt to pretty much walk it into the net. McGill fists clear as the ball is passed across the face of Colgan’s goal towards Niall Scully.


Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-1: Bryan Menton, one of two survivors from the last Meath team to beat Dublin in Leinster, nails their first score — a superb strike from 40-odd metres after a jinking burst through Dublin’s half-back line. Meath’s first score comes on 32 minutes and 30 seconds, but there are only four between them.

Game on, Ger?


Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-1: Michael Darragh McCauley is on in midfield for James McCarthy, who was down with what looked like a knee injury.


Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-1: Three minutes of added time, of which one has already elapsed. Meath ball inside the Dublin half.


Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-1: Meath’s shooting has really let them down. Mickey Newman fires wide with a free from 48 metres just before half-time — their fifth wide. Dublin haven’t scored in 11 minutes but still lead by four.

What a weird game.


Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-1: With the last kick of the first half, Brennan hooks a fairly easy free wide-right. That would have made a massive psychological difference to Meath at the break, one has to imagine. They go in four down but they’ll be kicking themselves that it’s not even closer.

Flag 35Mins

Half-time: Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-1

All to play for in the second half, but Meath will need to start converting if they’re going to make a proper game of this. As it stands, Dublin could probably put 15 men behind the ball and see this out to the full-time whistle — that’s how low-scoring and void of genuine opportunities it’s been.


Paul Mannion hits his penalty off the post Mannion's penalty hits the post. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

A young Dublin fan has her raincoat adjusted A young Dublin fan stays dry. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Paul Mannion and Shane McEntee Shane McEntee floors Mannion. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO


Meath had 11 scoring chances in the first half and scored one. A 9% conversion rate. Surely they can’t be as wasteful again?

Cillian OÕSullivan appeals for a free Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO


Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-1: Graham Reilly kicks another wide — I think that’s his fourth in total. He snatched at that one from range, probably not the right option which has been the case for at least half of Meath’s wides.


Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-1: Brennan kicks literally the exact same wide from a dead ball as he did on the stroke of half-time. Oh dear.


Dublin 0-6 Meath 0-1: McCaffrey explodes through the left-hand side of Meath’s defence and bears down on goal from an angle but fists the ball over. Dublin respond to two poor Meath wides with a point out of nothing.


Dublin 0-6 Meath 0-1: Meath build patiently, slowly, knocking the ball around in midfield before putting together a nice move which sets Neman free. He shoots from the 45! He sends it wide.

These wides are just sucking the soul out of this Meath effort.


Dublin 0-7 Meath 0-1: Shane Gallagher is booked for a high challenge and Costello nonchalantly lands one from 50-or-so yards from the resulting free — splits the sticks.


Dublin 0-7 Meath 0-2: Brian Fenton clips Ronan Ryan just as the Meath man is about to pull the trigger toward goal! Free-in, not a penalty. Meath narrow the gap.



The attendance at Croke Park today is 47,027.


Dublin 0-7 Meath 0-2: Meath have created 16 scoring chances to Dublin’s 14, but the Royals have kicked a God-awful 11 wides. Menton with another there.


Dublin 0-8 Meath 0-2: Costello converts another easy-enough free for the Dubs.


Dublin 0-9 Meath 0-2: Michael Darragh McCauley tees up Philly McMahon who lashes one over from 50-plus yards. Great score. The gap is seven.


Dublin 0-9 Meath 0-3: A superb solo run by Newman, complete with what looked like a lovely dummied hand-pass at first glance, results in him blasting towards Cluxton’s goal but safely over the bar. Nice injection of pace by the Meath forward.


Dublin 0-10 Meath 0-3: Mannion does what Mannion does, cutting onto his left and instantaneously firing over a spectacular point from range. What a score by the Kilmacud man!


Ben Brennan reacts to missing a free kick It's just been this kind of day with the shooting boots for Meath... Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO


Dublin 0-11 Meath 0-3: Dublin in full flow turn the ball over near halfway and break at pace, with Fenton firing over at the tail-end of it.


Dublin 0-12 Meath 0-3: Thomas O’Reilly hits Meath’s 12th wide. Should have scored. Dublin go up the other end and point immediately as MDMA feeds Paul Mannion. Fans — most of them from Meath — beginning to stream out of Croker now.


Dublin 0-13 Meath 0-3: Dean Rock, on for Brian Howard, converts a free to stretch the Dubs’ lead to 10.


Dublin 0-15 Meath 0-3: Rock laying down a marker to Jim Gavin now as he converts beautiful scores from play in a matter of seconds. First, he drifts one over from centre-left, then the same thing from centre-right. Three in a row for Rock.


Dublin 0-16 Meath 0-3: Paddy Andrews gathers a breaking ball after Niall Scully pumps it in long, and the replacement lobs one over from 25 yards.

Flag 67Mins

Goal for Dublin!

GOAL! Dublin 1-16 Meath 0-3: Oh, what a smashing goal for Dublin! Dean Rock times the hand-pass perfectly and feeds the marauding Con O’Callaghan who lashes the ball low past Colgan into his right-hand corner. Superb move and finish.

Cherry on top.


Dublin 1-17 Meath 0-3: Dean Rock chips another one over from the left. Tough on Meath, this. They gave it a good go for the first 55 minutes or so, but the scoreline won’t do them any favours.


Dublin 1-17 Meath 0-4: Newman registers a consolation score for Meath to ironic cheers from The Hill. Newman has kicked all three of Meath’s scores in the second half.


Dublin 1-17 Meath 0-4: Dublin carve Meath open again deep into stoppage time but Dean Rock, with the goal at his mercy, shanks it wide left.


A very comprehensive victory for Dublin in the end. They really just broke Meath’s spirit — or maybe Meath did it to themselves with all of those wides — and the last 15 minutes or so weren’t especially reflective of the pattern of the game to that point.

But calling a spade a spade, Dublin were just a far superior team as we expected.

Nine in a row. 27 Leinster championship wins on the spin. Utterly dominant.

Thanks for joining us, folks. Keep an eye on The42 for Kevin O’Brien’s match report and more reaction from Croke Park!

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