Meath 2-5 Mayo 1-9
Kevin McLoughlin rode to the rescue for Mayo as his 70th minute goal saw Mayo edge a tense game in Navan.
McLoughlin was introduced at half time and hit 1-2, the entirety of Mayo’s second half tally, to deny the home side a first league win.
The Royals were in the driving seat when second half goals from Ronan Jones and James McEntee saw them take the lead for the first time in the match with just over 15 to play before McLoughlin intervened.
McLoughlin levelled with a difficult free into the breeze before a Cillian O’Sullivan point from a mark put Meath one to the good. McLoughlin popped up with a score again after some impressive keep-ball from Mayo before a clumsy turnover in the Meath defence saw the Knockmore man hit the roof of the net just as the game ticked into injury time.
Meath responded with two late points but it wasn’t enough for Andy McEntee’s side, who will rue nine second half, wind assisted wides
Having played with a significant wind advantage, Mayo took a six point lead in at the break but both sides were wasteful in the opening 35 minutes. On a day when every score against the breeze was precious, the home side’s first four shots on goal failed to find the target while Mayo also struggled a times, hitting five first half wides.
Brian Conlon might have given Meath a massive lift with a goal on 15 minutes but Rob Hennelly did well to get a toe on his goal bound effort after Meath had cut through the centre of the Mayo defence. The home side didn’t score until the 25th minute when Bryan Menton curled over and at that stage Mayo already had five points on the board with Tommy Conroy, James Carr (two), Patrick Durcan and Fergal Boland all finding their range. Ryan O’Donoghue and Boland rounded off Mayo’s scoring for the half and leave it 0-7 to 0-1 at the break.
McLoughlin was introduced by James Horan and the the break and it was his late intervention that eventually got the Connacht men over the line.
SCORERS - Mayo: K McLoughlin 1-2 (1f), J Carr (1f), F Boland 0-2 each, P Durcan, T Conroy, R O’Donoghue 0-1 each.
Meath: R Jones, J McEntee 1-0 each, B McMahon (1f) 0-2, B Menton, C O’Sullivan (1m), T O’Reilly (1f) 0-1 each.
Mayo: R Hennelly; L Keegan, J McCormack, B Harrison; E O’Donoghue, M Plunkett, P Durcan; S Coen, D O’Connor; F Boland, R O’Donoghue, J Durcan; T Conroy, J Carr, A O’Shea SUBS: K McLoughlin for Carr, C Loftus for Conroy (both HT), E McLoughlin for McCormack (55)
Meath: M Brennan; R Clarke, C McGill, D Toner; J McEntee, B Conlon, D Keogan; B Menton, R Jones; R Ryan, B McMahon, E Devine; C O’Sullivan, T O’Reilly, S Walsh SUBS: J Wallace for Walsh (46), E Wallace for Devine (52), C Tracey for J Durcan (61), B Walsh for Boland (68).
Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone).