Allianz FL D1: Donegal too strong for Meath
Allianz National Football League Division 1
DONEGAL 3-8 MEATH 0-7
By Paul Keane at Pairc Tailteann, Navan
Back to back Ulster champions Donegal are up and running with their first win of the Allianz Football league Division 1 campaign, captain Michael Murphy top scoring with 1-2 in Navan.
The visitors, who beat Meath three times in 2019 across the league and Championship, heaped more misery on the Royal County who followed up their Round 1 loss to Tyrone with another disappointing defeat.
The hosts started brightly in what was their first home game in the top flight since 2006 but couldn't maintain that level and conceded goals to Odhran McFadden Ferry, Murphy and Michael Langan as Donegal secured the win well before full-time.
It leaves Declan Bonner's men, who drew with Mayo in Round 1, with momentum on their side ahead of their Round 3 tie against Galway next Sunday while Meath will hope to earn a first win themselves when they meet Mayo in Navan.
Meath initially drew energy from the occasion of their first game in the north-east in 14 years and enjoyed a strong start, opening up a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
Thomas O'Reilly hit Meath's first Division 1 point of the season at Pairc Tailteann when he turned smartly to slip away from Neil McGee in the third minute.
Corner-back David Toner boomed one over from outside the 45 and both Cillian O'Sullivan and Bryan McMahon converted frees to leave the hosts sitting pretty with that three-point lead.
There was a further boost to Meath's momentum when goalkeeper Marcus Brennan denied Murphy from the penalty spot in the 16th minute, getting down low to his right corner.
Brennan, goalkeeper for Meath in the 2002 All-Ireland minor final, became Meath's third 'keeper in two games following the use of both Dominic Yorke and Barry Dardis in the Round 1 loss to Tyrone.
Meath supporters urged their team to push on but they couldn't and frustratingly didn't score again until the 40th minute as Donegal finally found their range and brought all of their big game experience to bear.
Ciaran Thompson converted a free before McFadden Ferry netted in the 28th minute to put Donegal ahead for the first time, 1-2 to 0-4.
It was a rifled finish from the Gweedore man who blasted in from the left after a lengthy passing move that eventually came to a stunning climax.
Two minutes before the break, Murphy presided over another penalty after the excellent Jamie Brennan, who'd won the earlier penalty also, was fouled again, this time by Conor McGill who was black carded and sin-binned.
Murphy went to the same side again, the goalkeeper's right, but Brennan went to the other side and net bulged, handing Donegal a 2-2 to 0-4 half-time lead.
Donegal's third goal arrived in the 39th minute and was the pick of the bunch as Ryan McHugh this time got clear down the left, dummied his way past McMahon, and put the ball across for the onrushing Langan to palm in.
Brennan and Hugh McFadden added points and with a 3-3 to 0-4 lead now, Donegal were in a position to coast home.
Brennan and Langan added points to keep them well in command and the 2012 All-Ireland winners closed it out with scores from sub Niall O'Donnell and Murphy to secure a deserved 10-point win.
*Scorers for Donegal: *Michael Murphy 1-2 (1-0 pen, 2fs), Michael Langan 1-1, Odhran McFadden Ferry 1-0, Jamie Brennan 0-2, Ciaran Thompson 0-1 (0-1f), Hugh McFadden 0-1, Niall O'Donnell 0-1.
Scorers for Meath: Thomas O'Reilly 0-3, Cillian O'Sullivan 0-2 (2fs), Bryan McMahon 0-1 (0-1f), David Toner 0-1.
DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Eoin Ban Gallagher, Neil McGee, Odhran McFadden Ferry; Caolan Ward, Conor O'Donnell, Eoin McHugh; Hugh McFadden, Michael Langan; Paul Brennan, Ryan McHugh, Ciaran Thompson; Peadar Mogan, Michael Murphy, Jamie Brennan.
Subs: Andrew McClean for E McHugh (50), Niall O'Donnell for Mogan (55), Brendan McCole for McFadden Ferry (55), Jeaic McKelvey for McFadden (67), Ciaran Diver for P Brennan (70+1).
MEATH: Marcus Brennan; Robin Clarke, Conor McGill, David Toner; James McEntee, Brian Conlon, Donal Keogan; Bryan Menton, Ronan Jones; Mathew Costello, Bryan McMahon, Eamon Wallace; Cillian O'Sullivan, Thomas O'Reilly, Joey Wallace.
Subs: Ben Brennan for Costello (HT), Ethan Devine for E Wallace (48), Ronan Ryan for Conlon (55), Sean Tobin for J Wallace (62), James Conlon for McMahon (62).
REFEREE: Conor Lane (Cork).