Returns of Wall and Duggan the only positives for Meath in defeat by Waterford

Waterford 1-9 Meath 2-5

The return of Vikki Wall (pictured) and Emma Duggan were the only positives as reigning champions Meath suffered a fourth loss in the Lidl NFL Division 1 at a wet Ballinlough last Sunday. Picture: Sportsfile

Seán WallDrogheda Independent

THE return of Vikki Wall and Emma Duggan were the only positives as reigning champions Meath suffered a fourth loss in the Lidl NFL Division 1 at a wet Ballinlough last Sunday.

Duggan who has been plagued by injury of late was introduced10 minutes into the second half while Wall, home from Australia, made her entry early in the final quarter. However, neither were able to have an influence on the result as Waterford recovered from a six-point interval deficit to dominate proceedings in the second half.

Donegal’s defeat at the hands of Dublin two days earlier ensured that Meath were safe from the threat of relegation. However, they needed to return to winning ways in this outing and their second half display during which they lost their way completely proved very disappointing and somewhat worrying with the championship just around the corner.

A single point from a Duggan free deep into added-time was all the home side could manage for the duration of that second half after they enjoyed a comfortable 2-4 to 0-4 lead at half-time.

Niamh O’Sullivan and Aoibhin Cleary in particular were in fine form for the home side throughout that opening half while debutant goalkeeper Robyn Murray was steady between the posts.

Stacey Grimes and O’Sullivan accounted for early Meath points but Waterford were back on level terms following a brace of points from the outstanding Kellyann Hogan.

Then came the Meath goal as O’Sullivan got on the end of a flowing move to finish to the net at the midpoint of the half. The Dunshaughlin Royal Gaels player added a quick point to give Meath a deserved 1-3 to 0-2 advantage.

Kellyann Hogan kept the visitors in touch with her second pointed free before Aoibhin Cleary and Lauren McGregor exchanges scored to leave that O’Sullivan goal separating the teams on the approach to the break.

Meath prospects of a victory were boosted significantly on the stroke of half-time when an effort from Cleary rebounded off a post and Amy O’Leary reacted quickest to produce a great finish to the net.

Waterford took a grip on proceedings right from the start of the second half dominating possession and in the process the Meath challenge faltered dramatically. Lauren McGregor and Bríd McMaugh had early points and by the end of the third quarter there was just three between the teams after Hogan accounted for her fourth point of the afternoon.

Most of that second half was played in Meath’s half of the pitch but in one rare attack the home side created a goal opportunity. However, Aoife Minogue overcooked her pass to Emma Duggan and the chance was lost.

Hogan brought it back to a two point game before disaster struck for Meath on 53 minutes when possession was given away from a free-kick and Lauren McGregor took full advantage, finishing to the net to put Waterford ahead for the first time.

Hogan’s sixth point doubled the advantage in added time before Meath had their only score of the half from that Duggan free.

WATERFORD: Evelyn O’Brien; Cora Murray, Megan Dunford, Aoife Murray; Eve Power, Emma Murray, Kate McGrath; Kellyann Hogan 0-6 (4f), Aoibhe Waring; Áine O’Neill, Annie Fitzgerald, Caragh McCarthy; Karen McGrath, Bríd McMaugh 0-1, Lauren McGregor 1-2. Subs: Catherine Hynes for Fitzgerald (36), Niamh Power for McCarthy (36), Neesha Whelan for Waring (48), Katie Murray for O’Neill (48).

MEATH: Robyn Murray; Áine Sheridan, Mary Kate Lynch, Katie Newe; Niamh Gallogly, Shauna Ennis, Aoibhin Cleary 0-1; Máire O’Shaughnessy, Aoife Minogue; Megan Thynne, Ali Sherlock, Ciara Smyth; Amy O’Leary 1-0, Stacey Grimes 0-1, Niamh O’Sullivan 1-2. Subs: Amy O’Dowd for Smyth (HT), Emma Duggan 0-1 (1f) for O’Leary (40), Shelly Melia for Ennis (42), Aisling McCabe for Minogue (48), Vikki Wall for Sherlock (48).

REFEREE: Maggie Farrelly (Cavan).