Wednesday 21 March 2018

Lilywhites used to paying royal penalty

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

IF YOU have that rare thing nowadays -- a euro to spare -- then you might do worse than lob it on the likelihood of a penalty being awarded in Meath versus Kildare tomorrow.

They have met four times in the championship in the past decade and in each of those games Meath were given a penalty!

This trend started back in 2001, when Ken Doyle and Paddy Reynolds were both sent off for an off-the-ball altercation and Meath were quicker to react.

Richie Kealy was taken down after being fed by a quick Trevor Giles free and the latter put away the spot-kick to set up a 1-16 to 1-11 win for the Royals.

When they met again in the 2003 Leinster semi-final, only minutes had passed before Graham Geraghty was taken down in the box and Giles converted again.

But by game's end, it was Meath who were left holding their heads as a late free from John Doyle put Kildare a point ahead and Daithi Regan missed an even later free to equalise.

Four years later was a less happy day for Kildare as they suffered a 2-11 to 1-8 drubbing and yet again that game included a Meath penalty, which provided an insurance goal from Joe Sheridan.

Eamonn O'Callaghan kept Brian Farrell (who scored 2-8 in the Division 2 NFL final three weeks earlier) very quiet and the Meath star was dismissed on a straight red after 56 minutes.

But otherwise John Crofton's side, admittedly without both of their first-choice midfielders, Dermot Earley and Killian Brennan, were disappointing and only Doyle of their starting forwards scored.

Their most recent championship meeting was last year's All-Ireland quarter-final and, yet again, in a dramatic game that saw Earley's cruciate ligament go within a minute of the throw-in, the Royals got a penalty.

Kildare fell six points behind inside the opening 12 minutes, which included a Cian Ward penalty after Brian Meade was fouled having seized the rebound following Joe Sheridan's shot which rocketed off the crossbar.

But a James Kavanagh goal after half an hour got them right back in the match.

An Alan Smith goal just before half-time left the game finely balanced at 1-9 to 2-5, with Graham Reilly and Sheridan driving Meath.

But upon resumption, it was all Kildare.

They allowed the Leinster champions only 0-3, while Doyle and Eoghan O'Flaherty closed out their 2-17 to 1-12 victory with some particularly outstanding long-range scores, reeling off six points without reply between them in the remaining 10 minutes.

Irish Independent

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