Laois pay the penalty as Mickey Newman spot-kick and Bryan Menton brace ease Royals into Leinster final
Meath 3-13 Laois 0-11
MEATH are back in a Leinster final after an 11-point victory over Laois in Croke Park this afternoon.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Royals were hugely comfortable winners and regardless of how they fare now on June 23rd, are within reach of a spot among this year’s ‘Super 8’ having already made the significant step of promotion back to Division 1 of the League.
In a echoing and almost empty Croke Park, Meath's upward trajectory continued apace.
The star of the first half was young Meath forward James Conlon, one of two late additions to Andy McEntee’s team.
He scored 0-3 in what began as a tense, cagey period of play but ended with Meath in a commanding lead.
It took Laois 15 minutes to register a score and 22 before they scored from play.
The teams were level at 0-5 after half an hour but Meath’s first goal then changed the complexion of the match.
At that stage, Meath were beginning to create overlaps and hint at the possibility of a goal.
Mostly, they were content to take points, with Conlon the primary beneficiary of some strong running from midfield.
Then Bryan Menton went galloping though, beat one man with a high bounce and stuck a precision shot past Graham Brody.
Seven minutes later, Laois’s All Star nominated goalkeeper was culpable for Meath’s second goal.
Mickey Newman ballooned a shot from 50 metres high into the atmosphere over Croke Park but Donal Keogan – who had already contributed a couple of assists by that stage – continued his run and managed to catch the ball on his chest on the edge of the Laois square.
He trundled past two Laois players but was fouled and Newman smashed the penalty into the right hand corner of Brody’s net.
That gave Meath a five-point half-time lead but they didn’t score for the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Donie Kingston, on as a first half substitute, gave Laois something to aim at and he ended up with four points (two frees).
He had an excellent goal chance too at a time in the match when it would have injected some excitement into the closing passages of the game but Andrew Colgan sprang to his left to tip the shot wide.
Gradually, Meath edged away.
Keogan was excellent throughout as a ball-carrier and finished with four direct assists and a point from play having earlier won the penalty.
Conlon meanwhile, scored five points from play in something of a breakout performance.
But the decisive score came just before the hour mark when Menton strode through to score his second goal and Meath’s third.
SCORERS – Meath: B Menton 2-0, M Newman 1-1 (1-0 pen), J Conlon 0-5, C O’Sullivan, B McMahon 0-2, D Keogan, G Reilly, S Lavin 0-1 each. Laois: D Kingston 0-4 (2f), E O’Carroll 0-3 (3f), C Murphy 0-2, D O’Reilly, R Munnelly 0-1 each.
MEATH: A Colgan; S Lavin, C McGill, S Gallagher; D Keogan, R Ryan, G McCoy; B Menton, A Flanagan; C O’Sullivan, B Menton, J McEntee; B Brennan, M Newman, J Conlon. Subs: G Reilly for McCoy (59), S McEntee for Flanagan (52), S Tobin for Brennan (60), T O’Reilly for Newman (64), T McGovern for Gallagher (66), E Devine for Menton (69)
LAOIS: G Brody; S Attride, D Booth, G Dillon; S O’Flynn, R Pigott, P O’Sullivan; J O’Loughlin, K Lillis; D O’Reilly, C Boyle, D O’Connor; P Kingston, E O’Carroll. D Kingston for O’Carroll (30), M Scully for Boyle (46), T Collins for O’Flynn (54), E Lowry for O’Reilly (58), R Munnelly for O’Connor (58), B Quigley for Lillis (64)
REF: J McQuillan (Cavan)