Lenihan earns Meath draw with late leveller
Cork 0-18 Meath 1-15
Donal Lenihan's equaliser five minutes into injury-time meant that Cork and Meath shared the spoils at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday.
The result isn't ideal for either side - Cork now need a result against Derry to avoid being dragged into a relegation dogfight, while Meath's promotion hopes took a knock - but avoiding defeat will have been some comfort for both camps.
That said, both managers will feel that the game was there for the taking.
"Both teams are in similar position," said Meath manager Andy McEntee.
"Both teams are a little bit brittle, a little bit fragile mentally. You could see Cork going back into their shell a little bit, but that's a combination of playing against a strong wind, we get a bit of momentum, we get the goal and we had everything in favour of us.
"If you stopped the game with 12 minutes to go and asked who was going to win the game, you'd say Meath.
"I'm sure Cork will take something from it too. They came from that situation to go ahead again, but I'd imagine that frustration is the over-riding emotion at the moment, I suppose."
After Bryan McMahon opened the scoring for Meath in the second minute, Cork took control and had seven points in a row, with Colm O'Neill impressive. Mark Collins and Ruairí Deane also delivered, though the hosts did need a good James Loughrey block to deny Cillian O'Sullivan.
O'Neill might have netted for Cork on 22 minutes, but pulled his shot wide, while after Meath's drought ended Peter Kelleher should have done better with his close-range chance.
Even so, Cork were good value for their 0-12 to 0-5 half-time advantage and, after Ken O'Halloran denied Lenihan on the resumption, O'Neill extended the lead to nine points. The rest of the third quarter was even and Cork were 0-16 to 0-8 ahead when Paul Kerrigan pointed on 48 minutes, but Meath took over from there.
Sub Eamonn Wallace, Alan Forde and Lenihan hit points before corner-back Donal Keogan slotted home his chance from Wallace's pass and then Reilly and Lenihan levelled.
When sub Seán Tobin sent a boomer over the bar, Meath head the lead for the first time since the opening score, but Cork managed to find something again. O'Neill levelled with his ninth point and they looked to have won it when sub Barry O'Driscoll scored, but Lenihan had the final say after Reilly was fouled deep in injury-time.
Cork manager Peadar Healy confirmed afterwards that attacker Brian Hurley will be out for the season after a hamstring injury recurrence, while they will wait for news on Aidan Walsh, forced off with a knee injury early on.
"It's disappointing," Healy said.
"Galway is a game we should have taken a point. Today is a game we should have taken a point. We seemed to be very much in control above in Clare at half-time and they got a run on us, we just couldn't seem to get a grip on the game.
"We just need to be more solid at the back. It is the crucial things like giving away the silly frees when you shouldn't and not taking the scores at the crucial times. It is a learning curve. We have to rebuild."
Scorers - Cork: C O'Neill 0-9 (6f), M Collins 0-3 (2f), P Kerrigan 0-2, J Loughrey, R Deane, P Kelleher, B O'Driscoll 0-1 each. Meath: D Lenihan 0-5(f), G Reilly 0-3, D Keogan 1-0, A Forde, B McMahon 0-2 each, C O'Sullivan, E Wallace, S Tobin 0-1 each.
CORK - K O'Halloran 8; K Crowley 7, Tom Clancy (Clonakilty) 6, M Shields 6; Tomás Clancy (Fermoy) 5, J Loughrey 7, S Cronin 7; A Walsh 6, R Deane 7; I Maguire 5, M Collins 5, K O'Driscoll 5; C O'Neill 8, P Kelleher 6, P Kerrigan 6. Subs: J O'Rourke 7 for Walsh (9, injured), C O'Driscoll 6 for Maguire (20, black card), C Dorman 6 for Tomás Clancy (58), Barry O'Driscoll for K O'Driscoll (61), K Davis for Kerrigan (64), N Coakley for Kelleher (70).
MEATH - P O'Rourke 6; D Tobin 6, C McGill 6, D Keogan 8; W Carry 8, B Power 5, P Harnan 6; B Menton 6, J Toher 6; R Ó Coileáin 5, C O'Sullivan 5, A Forde 7; B McMahon 7, G Reilly 8, D Lenihan 8. Subs: E Wallace 8 for Ó Coileáin (23), J McEntee 6 for Power (half-time), S Lavin 6 for Carry, S Tobin 7 for O'Sullivan (both 53), S McEntee for Forde (63), J Wallace for McMahon (68).
Ref - F Kelly (Longford).