Meath’s disappointing National League campaign draws to a close in Cork

Cork 2-8 Meath 0-11

Vikki Wall of Meath in action against Ciara O'Sullivan of Cork during the Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 Round 7 match between Cork and Meath at Pairc Ui Rinn in Cork. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Drogheda Independent

A disappointing Lidl NFL campaign ended in a fifth defeat for holders Meath at Páirc Uí Rinn last Saturday.

The win and the draw against Donegal and Galway respectively earlier in the campaign ensured the Royals’ Division 1 status, while a final spot was out of reach of the Leesiders before the throw-in.

Nevertheless, victory was important for both counties ahead of the start of the championship in a little over a month. Cork’s ability to take their goal opportunities was probably the difference between the teams at the final whistle.

Vikki Wall started her first game since last year’s All-Ireland final win over Kerry, while Emma Duggan was introduced at the start of the second half. Overall, Meath’s display was much better than previous outings but their failure to convert either of two gilt-edged chances in the opening half proved costly.

Credit though to Cork custodian Sarah Murphy who deflected Shelly Melia’s effort onto the crossbar on 20 minutes and then saved the rebound at the expense of a 45.

Murphy was again in the thick of the action close to half-time, getting down smartly to save from Aoibhin Cleary. And from that block, Cork, immediately, went on the counter-attack and it ended with Eimear Kiely finishing to the net to open up a 2-4 to 0-5 lead.

Libby Coppinger had earlier found the net on 12 minutes when she fielded between two Meath defenders. It was those two goals which separated the teams at the break, Cork leading by 2-5 to 0-5.

The hosts had a chance of a third goal in that opening half when they were awarded a penalty for a foul on Anna Ryan but Monica McGuirk, restored to the number one spot for Meath, dived full-length to make an outstanding save.

Both Niamh O’Sullivan and Aoibhin Cleary were in fine form for Meath throughout the opening half and each contributed a brace of points while Stacey Grimes added their other score of the half.

Duggan (free), Orlaith Mallon and Grimes (free) were all on target in the third quarter as Meath outscored their opponents three points to one.

A mix up in the Meath defence allowed Cork in for another chance on 44 minutes but Abbie O’Mahony’s effort went across the goal rather than finding the back of the net.

Two pointed frees from Grimes had three points between the sides with five minutes to go before Olivia Callan made it a two point game. However, a late point by Kiely secured the win for Cork.

CORK: Sarah Murphy; Melissa Duggan, Eimear Meaney, Róisín Phelan; Erika O’Shea, Shauna Kelly, Dara Kiniry 0-1; Hannah Looney, Sarah Leahy; Libby Coppinger 1-1, Doireann O’Sullivan, Emma Cleary; Anna Ryan, Eimear Kiely 1-3 (0-2f), Ciara O’Sullivan 0-3. Subs: Ellie Jack for O’Sullivan (HT), Abbie O’Mahony for Coppinger (33), Bríd O’Sullivan for Looney (42), Lydia McDonagh for Cleary (52), Ellen Twomey for Kiniry (55), Sadbh McGoldrick for Ryan (58), Abigail Ring for Kiely (59).

MEATH: Monica McGuirk; Olivia Gore, Mary Kate Lynch, Kate Newe; Niamh Gallogly, Shauna Ennis, Aoibhin Cleary 0-2; Máire O’Shaughnessy, Aoife Minogue; Megan Thynne, Vikki Wall, Shelly Melia; Orlaith Mallon 0-1, Stacey Grimes 0-4 (2f), Niamh O’Sullivan 0-2. Subs: Emma Duggan 0-1 for S Melia (HT), Olivia Callan 0-1 for Mallon (38), Aisling McCabe for O’Shaughnessy, Ailbhe Leahy for Gallogly (both 48), Ali Sherlock for Thynne (52).

REFEREE: Seamus Mulvihill (Kerry).