Leinster SFC: Meath march on
Leinster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
**MEATH 4-22 LONGFORD 0-12
By Paul Keane at Pairc Tailteann, Navan
Meath are through to the Leinster SFC semi-finals for third season running after a comprehensive win in Navan, bouncing back from their league disappointment with a 22-point win.
Shane McEntee's second minute goal set the Royals on their way to the big win with Jordan Morris, Cathal Hickey and James Conlon all finding the net too.
The big win secures Meath's place in the semi-final draw and eases the disappointment of supporters following last month's defeat to Kildare which cost them promotion back to Division 1.
Longford's season is over and they will have to find a new manager following the decision of Padraic Davis to step down after three seasons.
Longford, who beat Meath at this stage in 2018, weren't helped by the injury suffered by influential midfielder Darren Gallagher which forced his substitution at half-time.
They were already on the back foot at that stage with Meath hitting an unanswered 1-5 in the run up to half-time and another 1-4 then in the third quarter to put the contest to bed.
The availability of both Bryan Menton (ankle) and Donal Keogan (shoulder), Meath's 2020 joint captains, was a major boost having picked up shoulder and ankle injuries in the loss to Kildare.
Neither were initially named to start but along with Joey Wallace were late additions to the line up with Menton a key performer at midfield alongside Ethan Devine.
Meath, finalists in 2019 and 2020, looked the more potent in the first quarter but six wides undermined their efforts and they held a slim 1-3 to 0-4 lead at the water break.
Captain McEntee's goal came just over 90 seconds into the contest when he got on the end of a move down the left and blasted to the roof of the net.
But with Gallagher fielding well at midfield for Longford, they carved out a series of opportunities which Rian Brady, Gallagher himself and Dessie Reynolds capitalised on.
Kevin Diffley was hauled down by Ronan Ryan, leaving referee Ciaran Branagan to consider if a penalty and black card may accrue though a mere free was awarded which Robbie Smyth pointed.
The teams split four points evenly between eachother after the water break, David McGivney converting a 28th minute free won by Gallagher.
Longford, just two points behind, didn't score again until the second-half as Meath took over completely.
A burst of 1-5 without reply from there until half-time virtually put the result beyond doubt as the Royals put together a series of penetrating passing moves.
Morris scored 1-1 in this period, dusting himself down after a huge hit from Andrew Farrell to register the game's second goal in stoppage time, palming in at the back post from Bryan McMahon's ball across after a Longford kick-out was turned over further out the field.
Leading 2-10 to 0-6 at half-time, Meath reeled off another 1-4 without reply between the 42nd and 54th minutes to take control of proceedings.
Underage star Hickey got Meath's third goal after a clever one-two with McMahon and sub Conlon fired the fourth in the 70th minute after good work in the buildup from Michael Newman and Eamon Wallace.
Scorers for Meath: Jordan Morris 1-4 (1f), Cathal Hickey 1-2, Bryan McMahon 0-4 (1f), James McEntee 0-4, Shane McEntee 1-0, James Conlon 1-0, Cillian O'Sullivan 0-3, Mathew Costello 0-1 (1 45), Fionn Reilly 0-1, Joey Wallace 0-1, Bryan Menton 0-1, Eamon Wallace 0-1.
Scorers for Longford: Rian Brady 0-3 (1f), David McGivney 0-3 (3fs), Robbie Smyth 0-1 (f), Darren Gallagher 0-1 (f), Dessie Reynolds 0-1, Kevin Diffley 0-1, Darragh Doherty 0-1, Joseph Hagan 0-1 (m).
MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Ronan Ryan, Donal Keogan; Cathal Hickey, Shane McEntee, Fionn Reilly; Ethan Devine, Bryan Menton; Padraic Harnan, Bryan McMahon, Mathew Costello; Jordan Morris, Cillian O'Sullivan, Joey Wallace.
Subs: Eamon Wallace for Menton 46, James McEntee for Hickey 54, Michael Newman for Morris 54, Jack O'Connor for Reilly 61, James Conlon for Costello 61.
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Patrick Fox, Enda Macken, Andrew Farrell; Iarla O'Sullivan, Michael Quinn, Daniel Mimnagh; Kevin Diffley, Darren Gallagher; Dessie Reynolds, David McGivney, Donal McElligott; Robbie Smyth, Joseph Hagan, Rian Brady.
Subs: Dylan Farrell for Gallagher h/t, Oran Kenny for McElligott 53, Liam Connerton for Smyth 53, Peter Lynn for Mimnagh 53, Darragh Doherty for O'Sullivan 58.
REFEREE: Ciaran Branagan (Down).