Royals dish it out as poor Carlow crumble
Hope is essential for any county embarking on a championship journey but Carlow's reserves are diminished after this thumping defeat at Portlaoise on Saturday.
Already dealing with suspensions to their manager, coach and experienced midfielder Brendan Murphy, they then lost Paul Broderick to injury after just 14 minutes and had marauding midfielder Seán Murphy red-carded with just over 50 minutes played.
By the time of Murphy's departure, dismissed for taking a swing at Meath's Donal Keogan, Carlow were eight points down and a beaten side.
But they would still conspire to lose Daniel St Ledger and Eoghan Ruth to black cards during the remaining time, relying on a brilliant penalty save by Robert Sansom from Mickey Newman in the 60th minute to avoid a deeper embarrassment.
This season has been something of a nightmare for Carlow. Relegation in the League was compounded by 20-week ban for manager Turlough O'Brien, which meant he watched yesterday's game from the stands, along with the suspended coach Stephen Poacher.
Ironically, the referee who cited O'Brien and his colleagues which led to their suspensions, James Bermingham, was a linesman for the Dublin v Louth match which followed.
Poacher did not mince his words afterwards. "The suspension was absolutely ludicrous. I never spoke about it but there was plenty of media coverage in the build-up to today.
"The crime didn't fit the punishment. I don't want to go into details but any sane human being that would have watched the video and read the referee's report would know that."
Meath have never lost to Carlow in the championship, and crushed them by 28 points only five years ago. This wasn't on that scale and for the best part of half an hour, Carlow were well in contention.
Then two goals in three minutes sealed Carlow's fate.
Meath went four points up after 11 minutes, before Carlow steadily improved, two fine points from Darragh Foley signalling their rising ambition.
John Murphy opened their account in the 12th minute and by the 24th minute they were level at 0-4 a piece. "For a while we got sloppy," said Meath manager Andy McEntee, "and they punished us and got some good scores."
Meath hit back with two scores on the bou nce from Ben Brennan and then Keogan set up goals for Newman and outstanding Padraic Harnan in the 29th and 32nd minutes. By half- time they led 2-7 to 0-4.
Scorers - Meath: M Newman 1-6 (0-4 fs), P Harnan 1-0; J Conlon 0-3; B Brennan 0-2 (0-1 f); B Menton, G Reilly 0-2; T O'Reilly, S Gallagher, C O'Sullivan 0-1. Carlow: D Foley 0-3 (0-1 f); D Walshe 0-3 (0-2 fs, 0-1 '45); J Murphy, S Murphy, E Ruth 0-1.