Sunday 25 February 2018

Football round-up: Historic day in Navan as GAA witnesses its first inter-county free-taking shoot-out

Players from both teams stand on the halfway line during the freekick shootout at the end of the Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup semi-final match between Meath and Longford at Páirc Táilteann in Navan, Meath. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Players from both teams stand on the halfway line during the freekick shootout at the end of the Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup semi-final match between Meath and Longford at Páirc Táilteann in Navan, Meath. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

History was made in the fading light in Navan's Pairc Tailteann when Meath reached the O'Byrne Cup final after winning a free-taking shoot-out.

After a dramatic game in which Longford came from behind in both normal time and extra time to draw level, the sides finished all square (1-19; 2-16) after the first period of extra time.

Due to the fading light the officials decided to dispense with a second period of extra time and go straight to the free-taking shoot-out from the 45m line.

So for the first time in the history of the GAA, an inter-county match was decided by a sudden-death shoot-out with each team nominating five place kickers.

Meath prevailed 2-1 with Mark McCabe and Cillian O’Sullivan – via the crossbar- on target with their efforts while Sean McCormack was the only Longford player to convert his kick.

Sean Tobin, Joey Wallace and James McEntee missed for Meath while Robbie Smyth, goalkeeper Paddy Collum, Barry Gilleran and James McGiveney missed for the visitors.

Enda Smith of Roscommon, supported by team-mate Niall McInerney in action against Eoin O'Donoghue and Stephen Coen, right, of Mayo during the Connacht FBD League Round 4 match between Roscommon and Mayo at Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Enda Smith of Roscommon, supported by team-mate Niall McInerney in action against Eoin O'Donoghue and Stephen Coen, right, of Mayo during the Connacht FBD League Round 4 match between Roscommon and Mayo at Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

A first half Robbie Smyth goal helped Longford to a 1-5 to 0-4 advantage at the break.  Meath fought back, however, and a Sean Tobin goal gave them the advantage in the closing minutes before a late Smyth point levelled the contest in normal time.

A Joey Wallace point late in the second period of extra time, which extended Meath's lead to four points, looked set to secure them the win. But Michael Quinn shot a goal and then kicked the equalising point in a dramatic 90 seconds to set up the historic shoot-out in the semi-darkness.

There was much less drama in the second semi-final in Mullingar where the home side withstood a late challenge from Offaly to reach the final for the first time since 2005.

Westmeath led 1-7 to 1-2 at the break and though Offaly hit a purple patch in the second half to narrow the gap, Colin Kelly's side held out to set up a third O'Byrne final encounter against Meath next Sunday. The Royals won the two previous finals in 2001 and 2004.

Meanwhile, in the McKenna Cup, Ulster champions Tyrone qualified for their seventh successive final when they edged out Fermanagh in a dour semi-final in Enniskillen.

The home side only managed to score four points and their cause wasn't helped when they were reduced to 14 men in the second half following the dismissal of Kane Connor.

Mickey Harte's side won't know who their opponents are in next weekend's final until Wednesday night – when Armagh and Donegal clash in the other penultimate tie.

Armagh withstood a late rally from visitors Derry to secure a 1-15 to 0-13 victory to overtake the Maple Leaf County and finish as group winners. 

It was a case of double jeopardy for Derry as they were also edged out by Donegal in the battle to be best runners-up which would have secured them a place in the last four.

Declan Bonner's side went on a goal scoring rampage in Clones against Monaghan hitting four through Odhran MacNiallais, Ryan McHugh, James Brennan and Patrick McBreaty, who also chipped with eight points.

Jack McCarron missed a penalty for Monaghan in the second half and the visitors eventually won by ten points to secure a last four place.

Even though they had Ian Kilbride sent off in the third quarter, Connacht champions Roscommon edged out beaten All-Ireland finalists Mayo at Dr Hyde Park in the Connacht FBD League. 

Mayo sub-goalkeeper Rob Hennelly returned to action for the first time since his dismissal in the 2016 All-Ireland final replay and saved a penalty.

This was Mayo's third game in the competition since Wednesday and they are still looking for their first win in 2018 – they were held to a draw by Leitrim and lost to Galway.

The Tribesmen remain on target to reach another final as they maintained their unbeaten record with a somewhat labored win over Leitrim.

Three first half goals from Dessie Connelly (2) and a penalty from Robert Finnerty -when they were playing against the strong breeze - put them in command (3-3; 0-7). However, they only managed to add three points after the break with Leitrim scoring just one.

Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup semi-finals

Meath 1-19 Longford 2-16 (Meath win 2-1 after free-taking shoo-out)

Westmeath 1-09 Offaly 1-07

Connacht FBD FL

Galway 3-06 Leitrim 0-08

Roscommon 0-14 Mayo 0-11

McKenna Cup semi-final

Tyrone 0-8; Fermanagh 0-4

Rescheduled Round 2

Armagh 1-15 Derry 0-13

Down 1-14 UUJ 0-09

Donegal 4-17 Monaghan 0-19

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