Brian Howard, Dublin, and Cathal Hickey, Meath, in Leinster SFC Semi-Final action at Croke Park.
Brian Howard, Dublin, and Cathal Hickey, Meath, in Leinster SFC Semi-Final action at Croke Park.

Leinster SFC semi-final: Dublin survive Meath test

Leinster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final

DUBLIN 2-16 MEATH 1-13

Despite a gutsy Meath rally, Dublin just about survived to book a place in the Leinster decider.

At the break Dublin led by 11 points, but Meath came storming back eager to cause a seismic shock. 

Ultimately Meath were unable to take the most prized scalp of the lot, but Andy McEntee's outfit most certainly vexed the six in a row All Ireland champions.

Meath got within a goal of Dublin in the dying embers, but three additional time points from Brian Fenton, Cormac Costello, and Ciarán Kilkenny sealed the deal.

A trademark Dublin burst when 1-6 was posted without reply after the first half water break was crucial early on.

Initially Meath had posed questions and were unfortunate to trail by 1-4 to 0-4 at the end of the opening quarter.

Dublin, though, were unperturbed quickly adding the grace notes in attack with Ciarán Kilkenny and Con O'Callaghan hugely effective.

Kilkenny, pulling the strings, clipped five points before the break, while O'Callaghan notched 1-3. 

Meath were utilising Eamonn Wallace's speed as Andy McEntee's charges only trailed by 0-3 to 0-2 nine minutes in.

Cormac Costello contributed a point and then planted a goal from a 13th minute penalty after Brian Fenton was deemed to have been fouled by Matthew Costello.

Meath did summon a response as Costello (free) and Jordan Morris rifled over points.

When the game recommenced Paddy Small, Kilkenny, and Costello contributed points. Dean Rock subsequently provided the assist for a gorgeous O'Callaghan goal in the 20th minute.

Further points from Kilkenny and O'Callaghan extended Dublin's advantage to 12. By the time the interval rolled around Dublin led 2-11 to 0-6 and it appeared Meath were simply dealing in restricting damage.

Admirably that wasn't the case as Meath were dynamic and defiant with Matthew Costello's 36th minute goal injected their challenge with hope.

The next four points were clipped by Joey Wallace (two) and Morris (two) as Meath amazingly narrowed the deficit to 2-11 to 1-10.

Dublin eventually ended a 14 minute search for a score when Kilkenny raised a white flag.

Meath were acquiring belief as Cillian O'Sullivan and Cormac Costello swapped points with Dublin 2-13 to 1-11 ahead at the second half water break.

A 45 from James McEntee and a Thomas O'Reilly free had the margin down to 2-13 and 1-13 as an interesting match continued to unfold.

Dublin were eventually able to shrug off Meath's spirited resistance. Fenton, Costello, and Kilkenny supplied the insurance points for Dublin to set up a provincial final meeting with Kildare on August 1. 

Scorers for Dublin: Cormac Costello 1-4 (1-0 pen), Con O'Callaghan 1-3, Ciarán Kilkenny 0-5, Dean Rock 0-2 (1f), Brian Fenton and Paddy Small 0-1 each.

Scorers for Meath: Matthew Costello 1-2 (1f), Jordan Morris 0-3 (1f), Joey Wallace and Eamonn Wallace 0-2 each, Bryan McMahon, Cillian O'Sullivan, James McEntee (45) and Thomas O'Reilly (f) 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: Evan Comerford; Michael Fitzsimons, David Byrne, Seán McMahon; James McCarthy, Brian Howard, Jonny Cooper; Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne, Brian Fenton; Niall Scully, Ciarán Kilkenny, Cormac Costello; Paddy Small, Con O'Callaghan, Dean Rock.

Subs: Tom Lahiff for Ó Cofaigh Byrne (HT), Seán Bugler for Small (51), Colm Basquel for Rock (62), Cian Murphy for McMahon (70+5).

MEATH: Harry Hogan; Séamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Donal Keogan; Cathal Hickey, Shane McEntee, Fionn Reilly; Brian Menton, Padraic Harnan; Eamonn Wallace, Bryan McMahon, Matthew Costello; Jordan Morris, Cillian O'Sullivan, Joey Wallace.

Subs: Ronan Jones for Reilly (29), Thomas O'Reilly for McMahon (HT), James McEntee for Hickey (55), Ethan Devine for Costello (59), James Conlon for E Wallace (65).

REFEREE: Conor Lane (Cork).