Wednesday 21 March 2018

Meath manager resigns after sensational second half collapse sees Derry stun the Royals

Derry 1-14 Meath 1-11

Orla Bannon

Mick O'Dowd resigned as Meath boss after his team crashed to a sickening defeat at the hands of Derry in today's All-Ireland qualifier at Owenbeg.

Meath led the whole way, and led by seven points at the break, but were sunk by Oak Leaf sub Niall Loughlin's cool finish in the 68th minute.

Afterwards O'Dowd ended his four-year reign as manager.

“We've done more work than ever and prepared very well but this is my last game with the team,” he confirmed.

“I've been very proud and honoured to manage the county, at a time of serious transition, but this squad is here for the next five to seven years and I wish the next manager the best of luck.

“I hope he gets the best out of them.”

Second-half collapses have haunted Meath in recent years, though O'Dowd's time in charge was also damaged by a string of injuries to key players.

“But I would be positive about the future,” he insisted.

“There's an exceptional Dublin team there at the moment, but they're not going to be there forever. We just need to keep raising our standards.”

The Royals led by 1-8 to 0-4 at half time, but should have been out of sight, such was their dominance.

They were left to regret those missed opportunities when Derry came storming back after a dreadful first half.

Damian Barton's transformed side kicked six points in the nine minutes after the restart before Mickey Burke stopped the rot with a 45th minute point.

Meath kept their noses in front until Loughlin's composed finish.

James Kielt's attempt for a point dropped short and Loughlin's superb dummy took the goalkeeper and his marker out of the game, allowing him to roll the ball into an empty net.

Meath, who lost by 10 points to Dublin in the Leinster semi-final two weeks ago, started brightly and raced into a four-point lead after just seven minutes.

Padraic Harnan opened the scoring and a brace from Graham Reilly got them off to a perfect start.

Mark Lynch got Derry on the scoreboard in the 16th minute in a very poor first half by the home side.

Reilly punched another hole in Derry's defence and passed out to Donnacha Tobin who fired a low shot into a crowded square to put Meath 1-7 to 0-3 clear.

Mark Lynch, Christopher Bradley, Eoghan Brown and Kielt (free) scored four points in as many minutes straight after the interval.

Meath surprisingly replaced freetaker Newman, who wasn't injured, and Donal Lenihan then missed a crucial free when Meath were two points ahead.

The Royals had to take off fullback Donal Keogan with concussion after 64 minutes – and four minutes later Derry pounced for the late goal which booked their place in Monday's draw for Round 3A of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers.


DERRY: T Mallon; G McKinless, C McKaigue (0-1), K McKaigue; C McFaul, B Rogers, C Mullan; C McAtamney, N Holly; D Heavron, C Bradley (0-1), E Brown (0-1); J Kielt (0-4, 3f), E McGuckin, M Lynch (0-6, 2f)

Subs: N Toner for McGuckin (28), N Loughlin (1-0) for Brown (46), E Bradley for Holly (46), E Lynn (0-1) for C Bradley (53), N Forrester for Rogers (BC, 62), L McGoldrick for Mullan (63)

MEATH: P O'Rourke; S Lavin, D Keogan, M Burke (0-1); D Tobin, D Smyth, A Douglas; P Harnan (0-1), H Rooney; C O'Brien, G Reilly (0-2), C O'Sullivan (0-2, 2f); B McMahon, D Lenihan, M Newman (1-4, 3f)

Subs: E Wallace for McMahon (42), D McDonagh for Newman (52), A Tormey (0-1, f) for Lenihan (60), S Tobin for Keogan (63)

REFEREE: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)

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