Dream debut for Jordan Morris as Meath cruise to 28-point win over Wicklow

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Paul Keane


Leinster SFC: Meath 7-14 Wicklow 0-7

Until today in Aughrim, Meath hadn't won a League or Championship game in 16 months, a 10-game losing streak that had left manager Andy McEntee pulling his hair out at times.

There was talk of this as a potential banana skin encounter too given the losing run which had yielded relegation from Division 1 and the fact that upwardly mobile Wicklow, the hosts, had just secured promotion to Division 3.

But from the moment Championship debutant Jordan Morris opened the scoring for Meath in the fourth minute it was one-way traffic.

Morris added a goal six minutes later and finished up with an incredible 3-4 on his first Championship outing, helping Meath to secure a semi-final outing at Croke Park on Sunday.

There were six Championship debutants in all - Morris, Mathew Costello, David Toner and subs Cathal Hickey, Eoin Harkin and Jason Scully - and Costello and Hickey crowned their debuts with goals too.

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Joint captain Bryan Menton and sub Joey Wallace supplied the other majors on an afternoon when the gulf in class between the top eight or 10 teams in the country and the bottom eight or 10 was painfully apparent.

In fact, this 28-point shellacking was another good example of why the provincial championships have probably had their day.

Meath's sheer physical power and their ability to move the ball quickly and efficiently through the lines, by hand and by foot, stumped a Wicklow side that looked painfully flat at times, particularly in the first-half.

Still, the Royals could do little more than a 28-point win and in Morris they may just have unearthed a genuine star.

An U-20 earlier this year, the Nobber man scored 0-2 off the bench against Dublin last month, secured a draw in Monaghan with 0-7, including the equaliser, and on his first Championship start added 3-4. Meath fans will hope he can keep his feet on the ground now.

"Jordo will be fine," assured McEntee. "I'll tell you who will keep his feet on the ground, the other guys will keep his feet on the ground and that's the truth. We've just got to get back to training and keep at it.

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He does look like he has something but it's going to get harder for him, people are going to know a little bit more about him now but that's just the nature of sport.

Does McEntee believe that Morris can keep it up against the best sides and in big games at Croke Park?

"I guess we'll soon know, I won't know that until next weekend. But no more than anyone else he's worked extremely hard and got himself an awful lot stronger and he's in good shape, like the vast majority of the squad so we're glad that he's playing well."

It was a tough afternoon for Wicklow though it'll still go down as a successful season overall following promotion from Division 4.

Boss Davy Burke revealed it was their seventh consecutive weekend of action following a series of challenge games before the resumption of the League.

"I thought we were stuck to the ground early on," said Burke. "We were just leggy I felt, very leggy. And look, Meath are a top side, a top team. When you're coming up against the Donal Keogans of this world they're very, very hard men to stop."

Meath were physically more powerful and played at a higher pace than Wicklow could cope with.

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Meath’s Jordan Morris and Eoin Murtagh of Wicklow. Picture: INPHO

Their first two goals came from turnovers, Morris tapping the first home after Thomas O'Reilly forced the 'keeper to spill possession and Costello drilled a brilliant second after winning the ball back himself.

Menton struck Meath's third goal to leave them 3-6 to 0-3 ahead at half-time and McEntee got a real kick from his bench in the final quarter with 2-2 from subs.

Wallace scored one of those goals when he palmed in a loose ball and the county title winner with Ratoath won two stoppage time penalties that Morris converted.

Hickey applied a neat finish following a clever one-two for his goal. Shane Walsh and Cillian O'Sullivan buzzed with attacking intent for Meath too and McEntee's forward options suddenly look particularly strong.

Scorers for Meath: Jordan Morris 3-4 (0-1f), Bryan Menton 1-1, Mathew Costello 1-0, Joey Wallace 1-0, Cathal Hickey 1-0, Shane Walsh 0-3 (0-1f), Bryan McMahon 0-2, James Conlon 0-2, Cillian O'Sullivan 0-1, Shane McEntee 0-1.

Scorers for Wicklow: Mark Jackson 0-2 (0-2f), Seanie Furlong 0-2 (0-2f), Dean Healy 0-1, Eoin Darcy 0-1, Andy Maher 0-1.

Meath: Marcus Brennan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, David Toner; Donal Keogan, Ronan Ryan, Mathew Costello; Bryan Menton, Ronan Jones; Cillian O'Sullivan, Bryan McMahon, Shane McEntee; Jordan Morris, Shane Walsh, Thomas O'Reilly.

Subs: Joey Wallace for O'Reilly 41, Ethan Devine for Menton 43-46 blood, Jason Scully for McMahon 56, James Conlon for O'Sullivan 58, Cathal Hickey for Keogan 59, Eoin Harkin for Toner 61.

Wicklow: Mark Jackson; Eoin Murtagh, Jamie Snell, Patrick O'Kane; David Devereaux, Niall Donnelly, Darren Hayden; Padraig O'Toole, Dean Healy; Rory Finn, Mark Kenny, Andy Maher; Conor Byrne, Seanie Furlong, Eoin Darcy.

Subs: Saoirse Kearon for Devereaux 22, Ross O'Brien for Snell 52, Conor Healy for Byrne 59.

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down).

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