Thursday 14 December 2017

Andrew Tormey leads Meath revival against Kildare

Meath 0-13 Kildare 0-11

Gary White, Kildare, in action against Harry Rooney, Meath
Gary White, Kildare, in action against Harry Rooney, Meath
An altercation breaks out between Gary White, Kildare, and Meath players, from left, Mickey Burke, goalkeeper Patrick O'Rourke, and Conor McGill, during the first half
Eoin Doyle, Kildare, in action against Padraic Harnon, Meath

Andrew Tormey spearheaded a Royal comeback at Páirc Tailteann as Mick O'Dowd's men fought off a crisis. Four points behind in the early stages of the second half, Meath looked set to crash to a second Division 2 defeat in a Leinster derby.

But they turned the game around in front of a crowd of more than 4,000, with Tormey kicking four points to kick-start their season. Misfiring Kildare slumped to a second defeat in as many games, and into a relegation dogfight.

A Leinster derby had a whiff of crisis in the air even before a ball was kicked at Páirc Tailteann last night, but an emergency defensive overhaul did the trick for Kildare in the first half.

After conceding two late goals last week, urgent surgery was required, and Jason Ryan discovered that strength in numbers at the back may be more advisable than opting for all-out attack.

They squeezed a frustrated Royal attack out of the game, but were unable to withstand a more decisive home side in a resurgent second half.

Mickey Newman converted a couple of frees to get the home side going, but they soon found themselves confronted by a massed, well-organised Lilywhite defence, which proved immensely difficult to break down.

The Royals went 16 minutes without a score, their opponents content to keep things tight and secure at the back and bide their time for efficient and productive breakaways.

The loss of Graham Reilly to a black card after just nine minutes robbed Meath of experience and thrust, and their opponents capitalised, with Fionn Dowling, Keith Cribbin and Darroch Mulhall all on target as they eased into a 0-4 to 0-2 lead on 23 minutes.

Andrew Tormey ended a Meath drought, but for the second time in the game, the Lilywhites hit three of the spin, with midfielder Pádraig O'Neill galloping forward to help himself to a couple, and a four-point lead.

Meath hit seven first-half wides, and struck the woodwork twice, while their opponents converted all of their scoring opportunities.

Bryan Menton's late score appeased a restless home crowd, but they still faced a huge task to overcome, trailing by 0-7 to 0-4 at the break. That three-point gap remained after 10 minutes of the second half, after Mulhall had hit two more, which were cancelled out by Seán Tobin and Andrew Tormey

Meath were now having more joy in finding channels to exploit, and when goalkeeper Paddy O'Rourke thumped a monster 50-metre free between the uprights on 52 minutes, they were just a point shy of the Lilywhites.

Kildare had gone 13 minutes without raising a flag by the time corner-back Mick O'Grady got forward to pop over a point.

But Meath were now moving with purpose and carrying a much increased threat, going level on the hour through Tormey, before Newman, relived of the free-kicking duties, displayed class in open play for the lead point. They then pushed for home with late scores from Tormey and Adam Flanagan.

Scorers - Meath: A Tormey 0-4 (1f), M Newman 0-3 (1f), S Tobin 0-2 (2f), S Bray, P O'Rourke (f), B Menton, A Flanagan 0-1 each. Kildare: D Mulhall 0-4 (3f), P O'Neill, F Dowling 0-2 each, E O'Flaherty, E Callaghan (f), M O'Grady 0-1 each.

Meath: P O'Rourke; D Tobin, C McGill, M Burke; P Harnan, D Keogan, B Menton; H Rooney, A Flanagan; G Reilly, D Dalton, A Tormey; J Wallace, S Bray, M Newman. Subs: S Tobin for Reilly (BC, 9), D Bray for Wallace (35+2), B Power for Harnan (54), E Wallace for D Bray (68).

Kildare: M Donnellan; C Fitzpatrick, P Kelly, M O'Grady; O Lyons, D O'Brien, E Doyle; G White, P O'Neill; E Callaghan, K Cribbin, E O'Flaherty; D Mulhall, F Dowling, P Fogarty. Subs: N Kelly for Dowling (51), T O'Connor for Fogarty (61), F Conway for Fitzpatrick (65)

Referee: C Branagan (Down)

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