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McEntee irate with late call

Tyrone 2-14 Meath 0-19

Meath boss Andy McEntee is restrained by his players after the final whistle. Photo: Sportsfile
Meath boss Andy McEntee is restrained by his players after the final whistle. Photo: Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

At the end of a long evening there were jeers and tears for Meath and their manager Andy McEntee ran on to the field towards Roscommon match referee Paddy Neilan. It was not a courteous call. Soon the gardaí were encircling the embattled Neilan who left to a chorus of boos from an incensed home crowd. It hadn't been his finest hour, a shame because the match was riveting, and when he failed to give Meath that last free and a chance to level tempers erupted.

McEntee made his frustration known before Neilan was escorted away. "They put in a massive effort and that's the real disappointing thing," he said afterwards, visibly emotional, eyes welling up. "These fellas put their lives on hold and then the whole thing gets decided by a couple of very poor decisions. That's the hard bit."

Harry Loughran of Tyrone scores his side's second goal during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1 match between Meath and Tyrone at Páirc Táilteann in Navan, Co Meath. Photo: Sportsfile
Harry Loughran of Tyrone scores his side's second goal during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1 match between Meath and Tyrone at Páirc Táilteann in Navan, Co Meath. Photo: Sportsfile

Of the two teams Meath certainly felt more hard done by. Two players were sent off, Tiernan McCann on a red card and Meath's talented young player Ben Brennan, on a second yellow, both near the end of normal time, but it was Neilan's general decision-making that really made him an unpopular guest in Páirc Tailteann.

Scavenging desperately for an equaliser deep into injury time in extra time, in their last attack, Meath looked to have earned a free and a chance to save their summer when the excellent James McEntee broke up the field and tumbled over after contact from behind. Meath had shaved a five-point Tyrone lead down to one and had momentum. But Neilan let play run on and soon sounded the final whistle.

Tyrone are fortunate to be still standing. They looked to be on their way out when Brennan, playing only his second championship match, scored a free deep into injury time, but Cathal McShane responded with an equaliser with the last kick of the match. Meath, having put in a huge effort, saw their challenge ebb in the first period of extra time, with Tyrone goaling through Harry Loughran, but they still managed to find another gear.

The visitors had an odd evening. Connor McAliskey ended up with 1-8 and could have had a couple of more goals in the first half, possibly three, but after half-time his shooting deteriorated and the rest of the Tyrone forward line showed little teeth. Instead, Meath started the second half with a different demeanour and went for it.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile

Brennan kicked two early points and by the time he was sent off his tally had risen to six, three from play. Mickey Burke put in a serious shift and scored a point which raised the rafters. McEntee, the wing-back, was outstanding, and shot two magnificent scores.

Tyrone, badly missing the suspended Peter Harte, went without a score between the 20th and 42nd minute and while they had some nervy moments thereafter, Mickey Harte's charges are still alive.

Tyrone will hope to improve from here as they head into the second round of the qualifiers. Meath, a transformed team from the one beaten by Longford, must reflect. But they went out with their chests out. And some pride restored.

Scorers - Tyrone: C McAliskey 1-8 (0-6fs); H Loughran 1-0; F Burns, C McShane 0-2; M McKernan, N Sludden 0-1. Meath: B Brennan 0-6 (0-3f); D Lenihan 0-4 (0-4 fs); C O'Sullivan, J McEntee 0-2; D Keogan, J Wallace, M Burke, T O'Reilly, S Glynn 0-1.

Tyrone: N Morgan; P Hampsey, R McNamee, H McGeary; T McCann, F Burns, M McKernan; C Cavanagh, P McNulty; M Donnelly, N Sludden, C Meyler; C McShane, R Donnelly, C McAliskey. Subs: K McGeary for Meyler & R Brennan for HP McGeary (both 48 mins); H Loughran for R Donnelly (53); D McClure for McNulty (61); R McNabb for McNamee (67); R O'Neill for McCann (extra time 70); C Meyler for McKernan (79); C McCann for McShane (86); A McCrory for Hampsey (92).

Meath: A Colgan; S Gallagher, C McGill, S Lavin; J McEntee, S Curran, D Keogan; B Menton, A Flanagan; M Burke, B Brennan, C O'Sullivan; G Reilly, D Lenihan, J Wallace. Subs: T O'Reilly for Lenihan (55); E Wallace for Burke (56); B McMahon for J Wallace (58); C O'Brien for Brennan (70 extra time); S Glynn for Gallagher (74); D O'Neill for McGill (80); D Lenihan for Gavin (84).

Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).

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