A FIVE minute scoring burst just before half-time ensured that Meath ended convincing winners over holders Louth in the Damien Reid U-17 tournament final hosted by the Mattock Rangers club at blustery Darver on Sunday morning.
Louth were well in contention and just two points in arrears approaching the break, 1-2 to 0-7, this after Cian Doyle had breached the Meath defence for a fine goal following a quickly-taken free.
The visitors responded in clinical fashion with Seneschalstown's Niall Lyons finding the net and points from James McEntee (free), Lyons and David Toner gave Meath a bit of breathing space. An injury time goal from Ruairi O'Coileain put 11 points between the sides, 2-10 to 1-2, at half time.
That productive spell ended the game as a contest and afforded Meath the opportunity to introduce seven subs at the start of the second half.
The underfoot conditions were good throughout but the wind made matters tricky for both sides. Louth started well and had two early chances but both dropped short and were dealt with by keeper Cian Farnan. Meath's first attack led to a foul on James McEntee and Niall Lyons pointed the resultant free.
Soon Meath led by four following a point from Ruairí O' Coileain and two from the impressive Joey Wallace who started instead of the unavailable Daira Rowe.
Meath continued to use the elements well as further points from Harry Purcell and Lyons (free) left them six clear by the 20th minute.
Louth's most impressive forward Cian Doyle made up for earlier misses when he pointed a free and then centre back Ciaran Sheridan pointed a 45 into the wind to narrow the gap.
The Wee County were rocked by that scoring spree late in the half and struggled to stay in contention after that.
Doyle managed two pointed frees on 37 and 41 minutes and a expertly netted penalty from the same player gave Louth hope. However with Ruairí O'Grady in dominant form at midfield Meath pushed on as Andy Creevy did well to rob Louth keeper Gavin Douglas and rolled the ball into the empty net.
Two further points from Sean McGrath gave Meath a bigger cushion as Louth responded with substitutes Conal McEnaney and Josh Arrowsmith pointing from play.
Charlie Bird and Brian Harnan were outstanding in defence for Meath at this stage and a James McEntee penalty goal after a foul on himself, and a late O'Coileain point from play ended the scoring
After the final whistle Terry Donegan chairman of Mattock Rangers thanked both teams and the Louth County Board for the use of Darver pitch. Sean Reid presented Ruairí O'Grady with the ' Man of the Match' award and the Reid family presented the Cup to captain James McEntee and a set of medals to the winning panel. MEATH: Cian Farnan (St Cuthberts); James O'Malley (Navan O'Mahonys), Charlie Bird (Boardsmill), Ronan McDonagh (Clann na nGael); Seamus Lavin (Dunboyne), Anthony Neary (Na Fianna), Niall Kane (Simonstown Gaels); Ruairí O'Grady (St Colmcille's), Conor Early (Oliver Plunkett's), Wayne Campbell (Naomh Mairtin), Declan Lynch (Cuchulainn Gaels); Ben Donnelly (Oliver Plunkett's), Cian Doyle (O'Connells 2-3), Daniel McKeown (Kilkerley Emmets). Subs: Josh Arrowsmith (Geraldines 0-1), Conal McEnaney (Kilkerely Emmets 0-1), Frank Osadebe (Young Irelands), Ayo Odumosu (Dundalk Gaels), Niall McArdle (Roche Emmets), Ross Murphy (St Patrick's), Ryan Traynor (Geraldines), Craig Devlin (Lannleire), Joe Hanna (St Brides). Keith McCabe (Ratoath); Harry Purcell (Trim 0-1), Ruairí O'Coileain (Navan O'Mahonys 1-2), David Toner (St Vincent's/Curraha 0-1); Joey Wallace (Ratoath 0-2), James McEntee (St Vincent's/ Curraha 1-2), Niall Lyons (Seneschalstown 1-3). Subs: Andy Markey (Dunboyne) for Farnan, Shaun Byrne ( Donaghmore/ Ashbourne) for O'Malley, Kyle Dixon (Boardsmill) for McCabe, Brian Harnan (Moynalvey) for McDonagh, Eamon Sheridan (Seneschalstown) for Purcell, Andy Creevy (Dunboyne 1-0) for Lyons, Sean McGrath (Dunboyne 0-2) for Wallace, Evan McGovern (St Vincent's/Curraha) for Lavin, Gavin McGowan (Ratoath) for Kane LOUTH: Gavin Douglas (St Marys); Conor Lenihan (Naomh Foinnbarra), Sean McConnell (St Fechin's), Emmet Duffy (Sean McDermott's); Conor Carty (Roche Emmet's), Ciaran Sheridan (Glyde Rangers 0-1), Alan Matthews (Hunterstown Rovers); Adam Lynch (Clan na Gael), Sean McLaughlin (Young Irelands);