At one time Dublin versus Meath was the country’s biggest rivalry, a classic grudge match that pitted two of Gaelic football’s aristocrats against one another on an almost yearly basis, however, the rivalry has somewhat died as Dublin continue to squeeze the competitiveness out of the Leinster SFC.
At the height of this great rivalry, fans have had to endure four classic encounters in 1991. A Dublin hammering in 1995 en route to an All-Ireland win followed by Meath turnaround a year later as they collected Sam Maguire themselves before beating the Dubs again in 1999 as they lifted their sixth All-Ireland SFC title.
Yes, at one point in this age-old rivalry, Meath were the dominant force and it was Dublin who paled in comparison to their noisy neighbours.
We all know things are much different now. Dublin have a stranglehold over the entire game such is their dominance and not many are giving Meath a hope ahead of Sunday’s Leinster final.
It’s crazy to think how long Dublin’s dominance has gone on at this stage. Six out the last eight All-Ireland titles is one thing but 13 out of the last 14 Leinster Championship titles is borderline ridiculous.
Since 2005, Dublin have lost just once in the Leinster SFC, it was also Meath’s last win over their great rivals and it came in the 2010 Leinster SFC semi-final. Looking back, it was arguably the catalyst for Dublin’s dominance considering that they made their All-Ireland breakthrough a year later.
Meath’s five-goal demolition of Dublin is our focus on this week’s ‘Forgotten Friday’.
It was June 2010. Pat Gilroy was at the wheel at Dublin were the undisputed Kings of Leinster. While they hadn’t quite made the breakthrough on the grandest stage of them all, in Leinster, nobody could lay a glove on them.
They were aiming to become the first team to win six back-to-back Leinster titles since their capital counterparts before them between 1974-1979, which was at that time the golden era of Dublin football.
They dispatched of Wexford easily in a Leinster quarter-final and with Louth having dumped Dublin’s main threat Kildare out, only the Royals stood between Dublin and the inevitable.
However, Meath completely blitzed Dublin with five goals to shock their entire GAA community.
The first half was nip and tuck with both sides trading points early on before Stephen Bray fired past Stephen Cluxton at his near post on ten minutes to announce the Royals arrival to the match. The sides continued to trade scores before two Tomas Quinn points followed by a Bernard Brogan score nudged Dublin two in front heading towards half-time, however, Shane O’Rourke and Cian Ward fired over the ensure the sides went in level 1-5 to 0-8 at the break.
O’Rourke and Flynn both scored early in the second-half before Cian Ward rattled home Meath’s second goal after 41 minutes to really put them in the ascendency. Dublin’s full-back line were left at ‘sixes & sevens’ for the goal which seemed to fill the Royals full of confidence that this was their day.
Dublin had the chance to hit back with a goal of their own but Paul Flynn’s shot came crashing off the inside of the post. Flynn’s miss proved the be a major turning point on the day as not a minute later, Graham Reilly punched a hole in the Dublin defence to set Bray up for his second goal of the afternoon to really pin Dublin’s backs to the wall.
It got worse moments later when Joe Sheridan pounced on an uncharacteristic mistake by Rory O’Carroll to fire a fourth goal past Cluxton before substitute, Brian Farrell, put the final nail in Dublin’s coffin three minutes from end to leave the final score at 5-9 to 0-13 in favour of Meath.
We all know by now what happened in that subsequent Leinster SFC final as Joe Sheridan’s ‘try’ secured Meath a Leinster title and broke Louth hearts in what is still one of the GAA’s greatest ever injustices.
Dublin, on the other hand, would bounce back from that defeat in style. They came back in 2011 to reclaim their hold over Leinster and as of yet have refused to let go. They’ve also won six All-Ireland titles since that loss and you’d be laughed at for thinking they won’t make it seven this season.