Tuesday 23 May 2017

O'Dowd resigns as Royals cough up another lead

Derry 1-14 Meath 1-11

Mick O’Dowd stepped down as Meath manager. Photo: Sportsfile
Mick O’Dowd stepped down as Meath manager. Photo: Sportsfile

Mick O'Dowd stepped down after four years in charge having seen his Meath team once again throw away a promising half-time lead in the championship.

Mark Lynch inspired Derry in their rousing comeback at Owenbeg, hitting six points as they pushed through to the last-16 in the All-Ireland race.

Derry's Danny Heavron is pursued by Graham Reilly of Meath. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Derry's Danny Heavron is pursued by Graham Reilly of Meath. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

The Royals led by seven points at the break, but a transformed Oak Leaf side turned the game on its head in the second half. Last year Meath led Westmeath by eight points at half-time but lost in the Leinster semi-final.

A stoic defensive display from Gareth McKinless and a 68th-minute goal from substitute Niall Loughlin helped Damian Barton's men on their way.

Meath cut swathes through a heavily-manned but loose-marking Derry defence in the opening 10 minutes, easing ahead with a couple of Graham Reilly scores, along with points from Padraic Harnan and Michael Newman.

The home side didn't score until the 16th minute, when Lynch got them off the mark, but they always looked liable to concede a goal.

Derry's Niall Toner is brought down by Mickey Burke. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Derry's Niall Toner is brought down by Mickey Burke. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Donal Lenihan sent an angled shot zipping wide, and in the 26th minute the Leinster men did find the net, Newman finishing Donnacha Tobin's shot at the far post.

The goal-scorer had another chance, but as he let fly with his shot, Gareth McKinless intervened with a perfectly-timed block.

Derry pulled scores back through Lynch and James Kielt, but at the break in the picturesque Sperrins, they had their own mountain to climb.

But they began the ascent in purposeful fashion with six points in the opening eight minutes of the second half, the inspirational Lynch leading the way with a couple of gems, bringing his tally to five, four from play.

Derry's Niall Toner is tackled by Meath's Padraic Harnan. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Derry's Niall Toner is tackled by Meath's Padraic Harnan. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

But a shoulder injury restricted his influence thereafter, and Meath breathed life into their challenge with scores from Newman and Mickey Burke.

Derry lost centre-back Brendan Rogers to a black card, but their defensive formation, much improved from the opening half, retained its shape, and they were now more effective in their transition to attack.

Meath had led all the way until the 68th minute, when Derry grabbed a goal through substitute Niall Loughlin.

Kielt's attempt for a point fell short, and the Greenlough man gathered to step around Alan Douglas and slide the ball low past Paddy O'Rourke for a two-point advantage.

Derry held on, despite having to play the last few minutes with 14 men, having used all their subs prior to Conor McAtamney's dismissal on a black card.

Scorers - Derry: M Lynch 0-6 (2f), J Kielt 0-4 (3f), N Loughlin 1-0, E Lynn, C Bradley, E Brown, C McKaigue 0-1 each; Meath: M Newman 1-4 (0-1f), C O'Sullivan (2f), G Reilly 0-2, P Harnan, M Burke, A Tormey (f) 0-1 each.
Derry: T Mallon; G McKinless, C McKaigue, K McKaigue; C McFaul, B Rogers, C Mullan; C McAtamney, N Holly; D Heavron, C Bradley, E Brown; J Kielt, E McGuckin, M Lynch. Subs: N Toner for McGuckin (27), N Loughlin for Brown (47), E Bradley for Holly (47), E Lynn for C Bradley (51), N Forrester for Rogers (BC 59).
Meath: P O'Rourke; D Tobin, D Keogan, M Burke; D Smyth, P Harnan, A Douglas, H Rooney; C O'Brien, G Reilly; C O'Sullivan, B McMahon; D Lenihan, S Lavin, M Newman. Subs: E Wallace for McMahon (41), D McDonagh for Newman (49), A Tormey for Lenihan (55) S Tobin for Keogan (59).
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).

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