Sport Gaelic Football

Sunday 21 January 2018

O'Rourke fails to save Royals on comeback

Offaly 4-12 Meath 2-12 Fitzsimons Cup Final

Owen Carroll, Offaly, beats Meath goalkeeper Conor McHugh to score the side's third goal
Owen Carroll, Offaly, beats Meath goalkeeper Conor McHugh to score the side's third goal

SHANE O'ROURKE had his first competitive outing at inter-county level in over two years, but his return wasn't enough to save Meath from defeat in Grangegodden.

His last action with the county was the round-three All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Kildare in 2011.

Since then, he has been hampered by a persistent hip injury which necessitated two operations.

Lining out at midfield, O'Rourke only saw 35 minutes of action and manager Mick O'Dowd said that he was suffering from a bout of 'flu.

Donal Lenihan scored a Meath goal after three minutes in reply to a point from Peter Cunningham, but Offaly soon hit their stride.

A goal from full-forward Johnny Maloney gave them the lead on 14 minutes and they stayed in front after that. Graham Guilfoyle, Maloney and Niall McNamee all scored points before Ciaran Hurley's goal on 28 minutes established a 2-9 to 1-3 lead.

Padraig McKeever replied with a Meath goal, but the midlanders were full value for their seven-point interval lead (2-10 to 2-3).

The hosts had the opening three points of the second half, including two from impressive substitute Graham Reilly, but those scores were cancelled out by a penalty goal from Cunningham on 41 minutes.

Meath closed the gap to four points on a second occasion but again Offaly responded with a goal, through wing-back Owen Carroll.

SCORERS -- Offaly: P Cunningham 1-3 (1-0 pen), J Maloney 1-2, C Hurley, O Carroll 1-0 each, G Guilfoyle, N McNamee, M Brazil 0-2 each, N Darby 0-1 (f). Meath: C O'Sullivan (1f), G Reilly (2fs) 0-5 each, D Lenihan 1-2, P McKeever 1-0.

OFFALY -- A Mulhall; D Brady, P McConway, J O'Connor; O Carroll, S Delaney, N Darby; J Brickland, R Allen; G Guilfoyle, P Cunningham, C Hurley; L Kelly, J Maloney, N McNamee. Subs: M Brazil for Kelly (h-t), P Sullivan for Guilfoyle (41), J Keane for Allen (45), K Casey for Hurley (49), N Dunne for Maloney (57).

MEATH -- C McHugh; C McPartland, S Curran, M Burke; N Shorthall, E Harrington, P Gilsenan; C Sheridan, S O'Rourke; S Mattimoe, P McKeever, C O'Sullivan; D Bray, D McDonagh, D Lenihan. Subs: G Reilly for O'Rourke (h-t), M Farley for Shorthall (h-t), D Larkin for Mattimoe (h-t), J McEntee for McDonagh (52), B Power for Sheridan (55), S McEntee for McKeever (61).

REF -- D Fahy (Longford)

Irish Independent

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