Meath rapped out a warning that they could make a bold bid for the Leinster football title when they cruised past Offaly by 1-20 to 2-7 yesterday in Portlaoise after having led by only 0-11 to 2-3 at half-time.
Brian Connor and Ken Casey had given rise for Offaly optimism with their first-half goals, but Meath assumed control in the second-half, reaping a rich harvest of points.
Joe Sullivan set the seal on their victory with a fine goal and this win will infuse Eamon O’Brien’s side with more belief in their bid to deprive Pat Gilroy’s Dublin of landing their sixth successive provincial crown.
And Louth booked a quarter-final tie with Kieran McGeeney’s Kildare when they overcame Longford by 1-11 to 1-7.
Louth had led by 1-6 to 0-6 at half-time thanks to Shane Lennon’s well-taken goal, but when Bernard McElvaney netted for Longford in the second-half they looked capable of taking control.
Yet they were held scoreless for 28 minutes as the Louth defence tightened up.
It was then left to Paddy Keenan, JP Rooney and Lennon to knock over the points that helped to take them to victory.
McGeeney, meanwhile, is hoping to have some of his injured players back for the Louth test having watched his side blow hot and cold during the National League.
Meanwhile Down’s hopes of success in the Christy Ring Hurling Cup were savaged by a resilient Westmeath side who comfortably overcame Gerard Monan’s men by 2-21 to 1-18 in the quarter-final of the competition at Navan on Saturday.
Brendan Murtagh inflicted most damage on the peninsula side, his eight points underpinning a lively performance by Westmeath with Joe Clarke and Daniel Carty landing goals in the 37th and 65th minutes respectively that ultimately proved crucial.
Paul Braniff (0-8) and James Coyle (0-6) scored the lion’s share of Down’s points with Stephen Clarke grabbing their goal, but it was midfield ace Eoin Clarke who proved highly influential throughout while goalkeeper Graham Clarke pulled of a series of fine saves.
Disappointed Down boss Monan afterwards praised his side’s efforts, but acknowledged that they had been beaten by a better side in the end.