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royal ask for navan

IT surely represents something of an oddity that Meath's various participants in the AIB Leinster club SFC have fared so dismally in recent times.

But the Royal County do now, at least, have a capable emissary in provincial fare and worthy Champions after yesterday's final in Páirc Tailteann.

That Navan O'Mahony's could go down through their gears and pick off scores in what represented somewhat of a surprisingly straight forward victory (1-11 to 0-7) over Wolfe Tones as the darkness fell in Navan bodes well for them in the very near future.

"In my day, we won a lot of Champions too and we didn't deliver in Leinster," agreed manager David Nelson after their 18th Meath title was wrapped up, a full 15 years after he last led O'Mahony's to county honours.

"It seems a long time ago now. I'm a bit greyer since then. I leave and breathe O'Mahony's. I did 10 years on the road, learning my trade and hopefully getting a little bit more experience. I was thrilled, to be honest, to get back here and work with a new group because they're an incredible group to work with. They have been amazing all year."

Dunshaughlin's 2002 Leinster win represents Meath's only success at that level since Walterstown in 1984, a remarkable volume of disappointment but O'Mahony's might just be a bit different.

They won yesterday at their ease in a largely unremarkable contest, plundering a goal after 20 seconds and maintaining a healthy distance for the rest of the hour and did so without Meath seniors Mark Ward and Kevin Reilly, both of whom are expected to be out of action until at least early next year.



Opportunistic

In fact, it's open to debate whether they have had it so easy in any of their knock out matches this year or whether they simply rose to the biggest occasion to win a first Meath crown since 2008.

Certainly, they were opportunistic and similarly, Wolfe Tones were not.

Alan Forde -- one of Banty's Babes of earlier in the year -- might have taken the easy point after he received a pass from Jake Regan after 15 seconds but instead, had the wherewithal and ambition to pick out Shane Gillespie to fire into David Nolan's net.

And at that stage, the omens were not good for Wolfe Tones.

They had a wind -- one which almost proved the undoing of Trims in the preceding Intermediate final -- but couldn't do enough with it.

As ever, Cian Ward was their main threat and unfortunately on this occasion, really their only one too and when his shot was saved by Marcus Brennan in the 17th minute, the writing was being outlined in pencil on the wall.

And the two tangled again, somewhat differently but with equally unproductive results for Tones eight minutes later.

Brennan spilled possession under pressure from Ward but the Meath senior slipped before getting his shot away, was subsequently fouled and trying to catch Navan on the hop, took a quick free which drizzled agonisingly and narrowly wide.

It was that sort of day for Tones.

At the other end, Stephen Bray was painting his class all over Páirc Tailteann and it was only when Tones moved Eoghan Harrington onto him in the second half that they fully got to grips with his classical stylings.

"Stephen needs no introduction," enthused Nelson.

"He's a fantastic player and he has become a great leader for us. He's into his 30s now, as I like to remind him.

"He became a dad this year and little things like that fit into your life that help make you a better player on the pitch."

Similarly, Gary O'Brien had a field day, busting out of defence and linking the play and by the time David Bray came on to tip over a point in the 56th minute, the Brennan already had one hand on the cup and O'Mahony's, a date with Killoe Emmet Óg on November 11th.

"I lost many a semi-final in Leinster and it would be great if we could build something for Meath in it," added Nelson.

SCORERS - Navan O'Mahonys: S Bray 0-5 (2f), S Gillespie 1-1, J Regan 0-3 (1f), S MacGabhann, D Bray 0-1 each. Wolfe Tones: C Ward 0-5 (4f), S Sheppard, E Harrington 0-1 each.

NAVAN O'MAHONY'S: M Brennan; S O'Toole, M McKeigue, I Matthews; G O'Brien, S Crobsy, B Dillon; C McGuinness, D Moran; P Smyth, A Forde, S Gillespie; J Regan, S Bray, S MacGabhann. Subs: B Regan for McGuinness (35), H Finnegan for MacGabhann (41), D Bray for J Regan (51), D Maguire for Forde (55), D Murtagh for Smyth (62).

WOFLE TONES: D Nolan; R Brady, C McLoughlin, D Coleman; N McLoughlin, E Harrington, S Glynn; S Corrigan, A Callaghan; A Fox, S Sheppard, M Coleman; D McGrath, C Ward, F Ward. Subs: A McKeown for D Coleman (29), P Byrne for McGrath (h-t), C Blaney for M Coleman (40), P Caffrey for Callaghan (48).

REFEREE: David Coldrick (Blackhall Gaels)

ATTENDANCE: 5,000 (Est.)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Stephen Bray (Navan O'Mahony's).


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