Meath pay the penalty as Dublin advance to O'Byrne Cup final following shoot-out
Dublin 1-12 Meath 1-12 (Dublin win 3-1 on penalties)
Though fielding a shadow side which featured none of their All-Ireland winning team, Dublin still overcame the challenge of Meath to reach the O'Byrne Cup final for the second time in three seasons at Parnell Park last night.
For the second time in less than a week at a GAA match we witnessed a penalty shoot-out after Meath's Mickey Newman kicked a free to tie up the contest in the sixth minute of injury time. The visitors led by four points after 20 minutes but a 34th minute goal from Robbie McDaid left the sides level at the break.
The home side always looked the more likely winners in the second half and were far more clinical in the execution of their penalties converting their three while Meath could only manage one in front of an estimated attendance of 6,500.
Dublin, who last won the tournament in 2017, will bid for their tenth success in the competition in next Friday's night final against Westmeath at the Donnycarney venue.
Early on Dublin's make-swift side showed all the tell-tale signs of a team hastily assembled. Everybody wanted to attack which left gaping gaps in their defence. They were further handicapped by playing into a very strong breeze in the first half.
After ten minutes Meath were five points clear (1-4; 0-2) with the goal coming in the 8th minute following a monster kick out from Barry Dardis. After a quick exchange of passes between Adam Flanagan, Ben Brennan and Graham Reilly through the heart of the Dublin defence the latter – who had come on moments earlier as a blood substitute – beat Andy Bunyan.
It was noticeable how much both teams kicked the ball and there was no doubting the individual skills of several of the Dublin players with Oisin Lynch catching the eye in the early stages kicking two points from play.
Dublin was denied what looked a cast iron penalty after 21 minutes when wing back Robbie McDaid was impeded by Ben Brennan after he raced through after reacting fastest to a quick free from from Aaron Byrne.
But in the next play, however, Meath's corner back Seamus Lavin was sent to the sin-bin after he upended Stephen Smith who pointed the resultant free and Sean Bugler added a point straight from the kick out to narrow the gap to two points.
Meath stretched their lead back to four with a brace of points, a second a hotly disputed score as a free from Mickey Newman looked to have drifted at least five metres wide of the left hand post. One umpire waved the effort wide with the other raised the white flag but after consulting both officials, the referee allowed the score..
Dublin finished a cracking half in excellent fashion with McDaid palming the ball to the Meath after the home side had cleverly switched play from right to left. Corner back Nathan Doran made a crucial incision before transferring to Sean Bulger who found McDaid and he made no mistake and they drew level (1-7 each) a minute into lost time when Ryan Basquel hit his second point of the contest.
Graham Reilly reappeared as an official substitute at the start of the second half and immediately kicked Meath back in front before a brace of Dublin points from Aaron Byrne and Basquel's third gave them the lead for the first time. But Darragh Campion hit his third point at the other end almost immediately to tie up the game for the third time.
Dublin introduced experienced duo Conor McHugh and Ciaran Reddin soon afterwards but it was Meath who held the initiative but squandered three successive chances to retake the lead before a monster effort from the impressive Basquel give the Dubs the edge with 20 minutes left.
As the players tired the exchanges became more ragged; the scoring rate dropped and the number of bookings reached eight – six for Meath who were penalised twice in a five minute spell under the experimental hand pass rule.
Dublin squandered a couple of scoring chances before Meath substitute James Conlon kicked the equalising point in the 65th minute. The home side were down to 14 men when Ciaran Reddin was black carded in the two minutes from the end after pulling down Conor McGill. Conlon had a chance to win it in the fourth minute of injury time but he missed.
Conor McHugh looked to have won it for Dublin fifth minute of injury time with a brilliant fisted point. Meath secured possession from the kick out and centre back Donal Keoghan drove forward and was upended by Conor Mullally who was black carded leaving Dublin with 13 men. Mickey Newman tapped over the resultant straight forward free in the 41st minute to sent the contest into a penalty shoot-out.
This turned into something of an anti climax with Dublin winning 3-1. Meath's Sean Tobin was the only Meath player to record a goal; Mickey Newman and goalkeeper Barry Dardis blasted over the bar while Thomas O'Reilly's effort was saved. In contrast Dublin's three kickers Aaron Byrne, Oisin Lynch and Conor McHugh all found the target. So the Dubs march on.
Dublin: A Bunyan; N Doran, S McMahon (0-1), C Smith; C O'Connor, C Mullaly, R McDaid (1-0); D Gavin, C Howley; R Basquel (0-4), A Byrne (0-1), S Bugler (0-1); S Smith (0-2, 2f), C Pearson, O Lynch (0-2). Subs: C McHugh (0-1) for Smith 46m; C Reddin for Howley 46m; A McGowan for Byrne 53m; S Boland for Doran 53m; G Seaver for Basquel 64m; J Hazley for Bugler 71m.
Meath: B Dardis; S Lavin, C McGill, R Ryan; J McEntee, D Keogan, N Kane; B Menton, A Flanagan; N Hickey, B Brennan (0-1) D Quinn; D Campion (0-3), M Newman (0-5, 4f, 1m), T O'Reilly. Subs: G Reilly (1-2) for N Hickey (blood sub) 10m; Hickey for Reilly 23m); Reilly for Hickey; M Brennan for Dardis; G McCoy for Quinn all ht; S Tobin for Brennan 49m; J Conlon (0-1) for Campion 64m
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)