Derry saved by the Bell as last kick of game shares spoils
Derry 2-12 Meath 2-12
A Ryan Bell free with the last kick of the game earned Derry a draw against Meath at Owenbeg.
The home side had led by four points midway through the second half and, playing with a strong breeze, looked to be cruising to victory.
However, you write Meath off at your peril - and Mick O'Dowd's side hit five consecutive scores to lead by one in injury time. With time almost up, Derry rallied one last time before substitute Bell's point gave the Oakleafers a share of the spoils.
In an open and entertaining game, where the lead changed hands seven times before the two sides eventually couldn't be separated, the visitors ran in a point up at half-time, with the scoreboard reading 1-6 to 2-4.
A brace of points apiece from Mark Lynch and James Kielt gave Derry an early 0-4 to 0-2 lead by the 10th minute.
Micky Newman then scored the first goal of the game for the Royals, pouncing on a high ball to give his side a one-point advantage.
Derry responded, and Daniel Heavron scored their first goal of the afternoon when he dispatched his effort low and hard into the back of Conor McHugh's net.
Again Meath replied - and again it was a goal, this time Andrew Tormey finding the back of the Derry net to give his side a narrow first-half lead.
Back-to-back Benny Heron frees gave Derry a four-point cushion by the 57th minute - but, after that, Meath dominated. Three consecutive points from Dalton McDonagh and another from Tormey edged the Royals ahead with time almost up.
However, Derry showed immense character to battle back valiantly, and when Christopher Bradley was hauled down close to the Meath goal, Ryan Bell assured a point for his side with the resulting free. Meath's Micky Newman top scored with 1-6.
Hoping to avoid the threat of relegation, both sides will be glad of the well-earned point - with Derry away to Armagh next week and Meath travelling to face Laois.
Scorers - Derry: J Kielt 0-4 (2f), B Heron 0-3 (2f), D Heavron 1-0, N Loughlin 1-0, M Lynch 0-2 (1f), C Bradley 0-2, R Bell 0-1. Meath: M Newman 1-6 (0-2f), A Tormey 1-1, D McDonagh 0-3, S Tobin 0-2 (0-1f).
Derry - T Mallon 6, O Duffy 7, C McKaigue 7, K McKaigue 6, G McKinless 7, B Rogers 6, D Heavron 7, C McAtamney 7, M Lynch 7, J Kielt 7, C Bradley 6, B Heron 7, S Heavron 6, E McGuckin 6, S L McGoldrick 6. Subs: N Forester for D Heavron (BS 14), N Loughlin 6 for S Heavron (26), R Bell 6 for Loughlin (BC 49), C O'Boyle 6 forMcGuckin (49), C Murphy for Kielt (57), E Bradley for Lynch (70).
Meath - C McHugh 6, D Keogan 8, C McGill 7, M Burke 7, S Lavin 6, C Finn 7, D Tobin 7, H Rooney 7, P Harnan 7, S Tobin 7, C O'Sullivan 8, J McEntee 7, D Lenihan 7, A Tormey 8, M Newman 9. Subs: D Smith 7 for Lavin (22), D McDonagh 9 for Lenihan (26), C O'Brien 6 for D Tobin (47), C Downey for S Tobin (52), A Douglas for C Finn (55).
Ref -S McLaughlin (Donegal).
Meath mourn the death of O'Brien
Meath GAA is mourning the death of one of its greatest ever footballers, legendary full-back Paddy O'Brien.
Nicknamed "Hands" he was renowned as one of the greatest exponents in the position and was recognised on the "Team of the Century" selected in 1984, the GAA's Centenary year.
O'Brien won All-Ireland medals with Meath in 1949 and 1954 and was part of a famed full-back line that included his cousin Micheal, who died last May, and Kevin McConnell.
O'Brien was a Skryne club man who later played with the Sean McDermott's club in Dublin, where he resided until the time of his death. He also won two National Football League medals and three Railway Cup medals.
His death comes less than two weeks after the passing of Meath's 1949 captain Brian Smyth.