Saturday 26 May 2018

Late goals power Meath into O'Byrne Cup last four

Meath 2-16 Laois 0-14

Mickey Burke of Meath in action against Nigel Murphy in the Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
Mickey Burke of Meath in action against Nigel Murphy in the Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Quick-thinking Mickey Newman put Meath into the O'Byrne Cup semi-finals as the home side ran in two late goals in Navan to beat Laois and advance on better score difference.

With UCD cruising to an easy win in Carlow, Meath looked like going out of the competition but Newman, a second half substitute, had the permutations in mind as he scored a goal directly from a close range free and then set up Graham Reilly for a second goal minutes later to give them a superior score difference after three teams (UCD, Meath and Laois) had finished level on four points.

In between captain Donal Keogan also got up to score a point.

Reilly was a key figure in the victory, particularly in the second half when his pace caused Laois real problems.

For Laois Donie Kingston continued to give them a lifeline with another fine display as he helped himself to eight points, five from frees.

Driven on by the powerful Harry Rooney at midfield Meath, who made some of the running against the wind and after Kingston had given Laois a 0-5 to 0-3 lead, the home side hit the next four points from Graham Reilly (two) and Sean Tobin (free) before Rooney cut open the Laois defence to open a two-point gap.

Laois took over for the last 10 minutes of the half, first Gary Walsh drawing a smart save from Paddy O'Rourke before Paul Cahillane, Walsh, Gareth Dillon and Kingston from a free after he himself had been fouled to take a 0-9 to 0-7 lead.

The points continued to come in big sequences with Meath up next after the break for a real purple patch.

Sean Tobin pointed two frees, Alan Douglas stepped up from half-back for another, Reilly curled over a decent point to take his tally to three before Rooney placed Donal Lenihan to give Meath a decisive edge on 45 minutes.

But just as he had done in their league meeting  John O'Loughlin came into his own in the second half for Laois and his influence helped them back to parity with two points from Kingston (one free) and Cahillane, also from a free.

But O'Loughlin's supremacy was wasn't as prolonged this time as Reilly kicked back in again, pointing a fourth on the run and then being fouled for a second free which Tobin converted and earned Paul Cotter a black card.

Mark Timmons did well at full-back for the visitors while Alan Douglas and Cillian O'Sullivan, who is back with Meath after a two-year absence through injury, showed signs of better things to come.

Scorers - Meath: G Reilly 1-4, S Tobin 0-5 (4fs), M Newman 1-0 (f), C O'Sullivan, D Lenihan 0-2 each, A Douglas, H Rooney, D Keogan all 0-1 each.

Laois: D Kingston 0-8 (5fs), P Cahillane 0-2 (1f), E Costello, N Murphy, G Walsh, G Dillon all 0-1 each.

Meath: P O'Rourke; N Judge, D Keogan, B Tormey; A Douglas, M Burke, J O'Reilly; H Rooney, G Reilly; S Tobin, C O'Sullivan, D Smyth; M Battersby, D McDonagh, D Lenihan. Subs: C Downey for O'Sullivan (47), M Newman for Battersby (50), S McEntee for Smyth (57), P Geraghty for O'Reilly (59), P Kennelly for Tobin (64)

Laois: G Brody; D Seale,  M Timmons, P Cotter; A Farrell, D Strong, G Dillon; J O'Loughlin, J Farrell; D O'Reilly,  D Kingston, N Murphy; P Cahillane, G Walsh, E Costello. Subs: T Collins for Douglas (33), K Meaney for O'Reilly (44), D O'Connor for Murphy (47), R O'Connor for Walsh (56), K Lillis for Cotter BC (58)

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