Thursday 12 December 2019

Meath reach final after historic first shoot-out

Meath 1-19 Longford 2-16 Newsdesk Newsdesk

History was created after a free-kick shoot-out decided this O'Byrne Cup semi-final at Páirc Tailteann yesterday.

It was the first time for a senior inter-county match to be decided in such a way and with no floodlights, proceedings ended in semi-darkness.

With normal and extra-time failing to separate the sides, the game went to free-kicks from the 45-metre line and it was the home team that prevailed, thanks to a Cillian O'Sullivan effort.

Mark McCabe had earlier pointed for the hosts while Sean McCormack was the only one to hit the target for Longford from their five efforts.

The game ended in a welter of excitement as Longford rallied from a four-point deficit with wing-back Michael Quinn snatching a goal before hitting over the equaliser, both scores coming in the final minute.

The grandstand finish was in sharp contrast to the fare served up in the opening half of the game at the end of which the visitors led 1-5 to 0-4.

Patrick Fox of Longford in action against Ben Brennan of Meath. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Patrick Fox of Longford in action against Ben Brennan of Meath. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Robbie Smyth struck for the Longford goal after Rian Brady had pounced on a mistake in the Meath defence. However, the midlanders should have been ahead by much more at that stage but their finishing was woeful at times.

In an effort to improve matters for an out-of-sorts Meath, Andy McEntee introduced Cillian O'Sullivan, James McEntee and Brian Power at the start of the second half. The changes had the desired effect as the Meath men recovered from a five-point deficit to go three clear with ten minutes of normal time remaining.

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Two further introductions, Sean Tobin and Joey Wallace, also left their mark, and it was Tobin from county champions Simonstown who netted with a sublime finish after taking a pass from O'Sullivan.

Meath, though, were unable to hold their lead and Robbie Smyth gained parity, 1-12 each, on 74 minutes. Smyth then spurned an opportunity to win it for his side in the last action of normal time.

With sub Daniel O'Neill popping over two points Meath gained the upper hand in extra-time to go three clear. Joey Wallace increased the lead two minutes from the end but the hosts still managed to relinquish their advantage in the final minute.

SCORERS - Meath: S Tobin 1-2 (1f), B McMahon 0-4 (1f), B Menton, T O'Reilly, J Wallace, D O'Neill 0-2 each, B Conlon, D Toner, B Brennan (f), M McCabe, J McEntee 0-1 each. Longford: R Smyth 1-4 (2f), M Quinn 1-1, S McCormack 0-4 (1f), D Reynolds, R Brady 0-2 each, R McEntire, J McGivney, D Quinn 0-1 each.

Patrick Fox of Longford in action against Ben Brennan of Meath. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Patrick Fox of Longford in action against Ben Brennan of Meath. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

MEATH - A Colgan; S Lavin, L Moran, M Burke; D Keogan, B Conlon, S McEntee; B Menton, A Flanagan; P Kennelly, D Toner, G Reilly; B McMahon, B Brennan, T O'Reilly. Subs: B Power for Conlon, C O'Sullivan for Toner, J McEntee for Kennelly (all h-t), S Tobin for O'Reilly (50), J Wallace for Reilly (56), D O'Neill, for Moran (70), H Rooney for McMahon (72), S Glynn for S McEntee, M McCabe for Brennan, Toner for Keogan (all e-t),

LONGFORD - P Collum; P Fox, P McCormack, P Foy; M Quinn, B Gilleran, R McEntire; D Gallagher, A Farrell; B McKeon, S McCormack, D Reynolds; R Smyth, R Brady, D Mimnagh. Subs: P Gill for Reynolds (h-t), D McElligott for Gilleran, C Barry for Gallagher (both 48), J McGivney for McEntire (53), D Quinn for Mimnagh, S Donohoe for Fox, M Nally for Farrell (64), Farrell for Nally, Reynolds for Gill, Gilleran for Donohoe, Gallagher for Foy, J Matthews for Brady (all e-t).

REF - D Sheppard (Dublin)

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