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Bradley to fore as Meath slump deepens

DERRY have proved somewhat of a bogey side for Meath over the years and they continued their dominance with a crucial victory at Pairc Tailteann yesterday.

The threat of relegation still hangs over both counties but it was Oak Leaf manager John Brennan who was happiest at the final whistle as his charges picked up only their second win of the campaign.

The mercurial Paddy Bradley was again central to Derry's success with four opening-half points, two of which came from placed balls.

The captain proved an ideal target man throughout and while he failed to add to his tally in the second period his guile and ball-winning ability was a vital component in the visitors securing the victory.

The score was level on five different occasions in the first half before a Blaine Gormley '45' left the away side leading 0-7 to 0-6 at the break.

Derry opened up a three-point lead in the third quarter and that eventually extended to four, with Meath unable to claw back the deficit.

Afterwards, manager Brennan pointed to the importance of Bradley but also emphasised that a number of the younger brigade have a big part to play.

"Paddy is an outstanding footballer. It's a credit to him, there are games that we should be taking him off in, but he wants to work his fitness up," Brennan said. "He's winning 40/60 balls, balls that he has no right to win.

"We also have a lot of young fellas, but it takes time to get these lads to the pace of the game. We had two 21-year-olds on today, including Blaine Gormley who converted two '45s'."

Brennan said his team played much more direct football than in the previous week's defeat to Kildare.

"We had more possession against Kildare when we lost the game. There was a feeling that Meath were a bit porous through the middle and I think that showed in the second half," he said.

"We were vastly understrength in earlier games, we simply hadn't the players. We had no massive ambitions in this league, apart from maintaining our status. We are hopeful of picking up eight points, that would leave us safe with games against Louth and Westmeath remaining."

Six points of the Meath total came from placed balls and this was their third successive defeat and their most disappointing display to date. They also shot 15 wides.

Stephen Bray scored half his side's tally and kept them in contention for a long spell.

The Royals, who have a crucial away trip to Tyrone next weekend, remained in the dressing-room for a full 45 minutes after the final whistle.

Man of the Match: Paddy Bradley (Derry)

SCORERS -- Derry: Paddy Bradley 0-4 (2f), E Lynn, C Gilligan (2f), B Gormley (2 '45') 0-2 each, B McCallion, C Kielt, Patsy Bradley 0-1 each. Meath: S Bray (3f) 0-5, C Ward (2f) 0-2, S Kenny, G Reilly, B Farrell (1f) 0-1 each.

DERRY -- B Giles 7; B McCallion 7, C McKaigue 7, A McAlynn 7; C Kielt 7, M Craig 7, S L McGoldrick 7; M Friel 7, PJ McCloskey 8; Patsy Bradley 7, C Gilligan 7, B Gormley 7; E Lynn 7, Paddy Bradley 8, C O'Boyle 6. Subs: E Scullion 6 for McCallion (60), N Forester for Gilligan (64), O Browne for Friel (69).

MEATH -- D Gallagher 6; M Burke 6, K Reilly 6, C O'Connor 5; C King 6, B Menton 7, G Reilly 7; T Walsh 6, M Ward 6; D Tobin 6, S Bray 8, S Kenny 6; P Gilsenan 6, C Ward 6, S McAnarney 7. Subs: G O'Brien 6 for O'Connor (18), A Forde 5 for King (50), C Gillespie 6 for Gilsenan (60), B Farrell for C Ward (67).

REF -- P Hughes (Armagh).

Irish Independent

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