Royal defeat changes nothing for McEntee as the delighted Wee men march on to a Drogheda decider
Louth 1-14 Meath 0-10 O'Byrne Cup semi-final
It had to happen. Just as Meath and Louth's sem-final bout was coming to a close, in which the visitors had more or less bullied the home team, we got a penalty for the Wee County and a black card for Meath goalkeeper, Jack Hannigan for a needless trip on Sam Mulroy.
Everyone in the ground then came to the realisation at the same time: Joe Sheridan was Meath's substitute goalkeeper.
Cue howls of derision from Louth supporters and roars of support from the Meath one.
Jim McEneaney rifled the penalty home beyond Sheridan, but that little piece of pantomime was as colourful as it got yesterday at Páirc Tailteann.
"It might have been a pantomime but it definitely wasn't a pantomime from our point of view," Louth's manager Colin Kelly asserted after a commanding seven-point win.
"People say it's only the O'Byrne Cup but ultimately we wanted another game in the competition."
Which they have earned, against Dublin - or whatever version of Dublin travels to Drogheda next Sunday.
For Meath, it was a cold, bleak afternoon. A buzz-killer if ever there was one in January.
"Some days you don't have it," shrugged Andy McEntee, who failed to hide, or even try to hide, his disappointment at the attitude of his team yesterday.
"We have been working hard and we have a heavy week's work done. Maybe that was responsible for some of it but your attitude is your attitude.
"If we had it for that 20-minute period in the second half, then why didn't we have it at the start?"
After the loss of Alan Forde to a straight red in the 23rd minute, Meath fell apart.
They went 32 minutes without scoring, in which time Louth put eight points on the board.
Derek Maguire, Tommy Durnin and Andy McDonnell all played with a drive and certainty that was almost uniformly lacking from their opponents. A run of four points in seven minutes provided some signs of life but Louth took obvious pleasure from their win and its manner.
"I would love to have won today and got a crack at Dublin next week in Navan," McEntee admitted.
"But the truth of the matter is nothing changes. The result today has no impact on our season, our focus is very much on Kildare (in the first round of the League).
"It changes nothing."
SCORERS - Louth: J McEneaney 1-1 (1-0 pen), D Maguire, S Mulroy (1f, 1 '45) 0-3 each, T Durnin, A McDonnell 0-2 each, A Williams, P Smith, D Byrne 0-1 each. Meath: R Ó Coileáin 0-3 (2f), C Downey 0-2, B Menton, C O'Brien, E Wallace, S Tobin ('45), B McMahon (f) 0-1 each.
LOUTH: C Lynch; P Rath, P Reilly, K Carr; D Maguire, L Dullaghan, A Williams; T Durnin, A McDonnell; D Byrne, P Smith, B Duffy; C McKeever, R Carroll, G McSorley. Subs: J McEneaney for Carroll (31), J Bingham for Reilly (51), A Reid for McKeever (59), J Stewart for McKeever (65), R Nally for Smith (69), J Califf for Durnin (71)
MEATH: J Hannigan; D McQuillan, D Keogan, S Curran; S Lavin, B Power, A Forde; B Menton, C O'Brien; R Ó Coleáin, G Reilly, E Wallace; K Ross, P Kennelly, S Tobin. Subs: C McGill for Curran (34), C O'Sullivan for Tobin (51), B McMahon for Ross (51), S McEntee for Ó Coileáin (59 black card), D Lenihan for Wallace (64), J Sheridan for Hannigan (68 black card)
REF: D Moore (Laois)