McEntee hails Royals resilience as they avoid drop
Meath 1-12 Louth 0-7
Meath secured their place in the second tier in Drogheda on Saturday with a hard-fought win against the already relegated Wee County.
The Royals were installed as one of the favourites to finally escape to the top tier at the start of the campaign, but the wheels came off after they had taken three points from their opening two matches.
Manager Andy McEntee reflected on this following victory over their fierce rivals.
"I suppose it is frustrating looking back over the league. We had three points out of four from the first two games, and then four points from four from the last two games, but we had a very disappointing bit in between.
"We found ourselves having to win our last two games to stay in the division. We put two good performances together and we won the two games, so we have to take the positives from that.
"The lads dug in when they really had to and when their backs were against the wall they responded, so I'm going to give them a lot of credit for that.
"However, if you want to be really brutal we are in the same position this year that we were this time last year, still in Division 2."
Pete McGrath was seeking some solace from what has been a disastrous campaign in his first year in charge of the Wee County, with their relegation confirmed two games ago.
Even after Louth had raced into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead on 15 minutes, there was always the suspicion that Meath's need was greater and their persistence would eventually pay dividends.
Ben Brennan's point had the sides level on 28 minutes, but Louth were back in front following a fine effort from Gerard McSorley to leave them leading 0-4 to 0-3 at the break.
On the restart Meath began to create the space which Louth had previously denied them and five successive points in the third quarter left them in a commanding position and clear of the relegation trapdoor.
First-half substitute Joey Wallace brought fresh impetus to the Meath attack, while Cillian O'Sullivan's strong running began to pay dividends.
The half was 22 minutes old before sub Tadhg McEneaney added to Louth's opening half tally from a free. Their cause was a lost one, but McEneaney's second point left four between the teams with five minutes left.
However, Louth then had Tommy Durnin dismissed on receipt of a second yellow and Meath took advantage.
Centre-back Donal Keogan cut through the Louth rearguard before spotting the unmarked Donal Lenihan, who slapped the ball to the net to secure the victory.
Scorers - Meath: D Lenihan 1-3 (3f), B Brennan 0-2 (1f), S McEntee, J McEntee, P Kennelly, G Reilly, C O'Sullivan, T O'Reilly, J Wallace 0-1 each.
Louth: T McEneaney (2f), W Woods (2f) 0-2 each, D Byrne, T Durnin, G McSorley 0-1 each.
Meath - A Colgan 6; B Power 6, C McGill 7, M Burke 7; J McEntee 7, D Keogan 8, S McEntee 7; B Menton 7, P Kennelly 8; E Wallace 5, B Brennan 7, G Reilly 7; C O'Sullivan 7, S Tobin 6, D Lenihan 7. Subs: J Wallace 7 for E Wallace (8), T O'Reilly 7 for Brennan (52), B McMahon for Tobin (67), B Conlon for O'Sullivan (70).
Louth - N Gallagher 6; A Smyth 7, E Carolan 7, F Donohoe 6; C Downey 6, B Duffy 7, A Williams 6; T Durnin 7, D Byrne 7; D Maguire 6, A McDonnell 7, G McSorley 7; R Nally 6, C Grimes 6, W Woods 7. Subs: E Keenan 6 for Williams (BC 47), T McEneaney 7 for Woods (54), A Khan 6 for Smyth (63), P Matthews 6 for Downey (63).
Ref - N Mooney (Cavan)