Friday 24 November 2017

Meath secure first O'Byrne Cup in a decade with win over Longford

Meath 1-17 Longford 1-11

James O'Reilly, Meath, in action against Darren Gallagher, behind, and Mark Hughes, Longford
James O'Reilly, Meath, in action against Darren Gallagher, behind, and Mark Hughes, Longford
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Meath claimed silverware for the first time since their controversial Leinster final win over Louth in 2010 with an O'Byrne Cup victory over Longford in Pairc Tailteann,.

Once again Graham Reilly was their star, running riot with six points before injury forced him out late on.

Before an estimated 5,000 crowd Longford had no answer to the pace of Reilly and tried three different first half markers on him in the first half alone.

The game was effectively settled when Mickey Newman sliced through the Longford defence and set up Cillian O'Sullivan for a goal and a 1-12 to 1-6 lead on 45 minutes.

Meath captain Donal Keogan lifts the O'Byrne Cup after the game
Meath captain Donal Keogan lifts the O'Byrne Cup after the game

Longford dominated possession early on, putting the ball repeated through the hands but to little avail and, on those terms, Meath were able to hit them on the break repeatedly.

Reilly thrived with four first half points while Cillian O'Sullivan continued his rehabilitation from a two-year lay off with some nice assists.

But his missed 13 metre free on 21 minutes to give Meath a 0-8 to 0-2 lead stemmed the flow a little and with Donal McElligott into the action the visitors hit back, cutting through the Meath defence as McElligott, Colm P Smyth and Francis McGee teed up Robbie Smyth at close range for a goal that cut the deficit to just one point again.

It checked Meath briefly but they set off again as half-time approached with three successive points from Michael newman (two frees) and Reilly's fourth to lead by 0-10 to 1-3.

Donal Lenihan, Sean Tobin and, late on, Ruairi O Coileain all gave O'Sullivan and Reilly good support in attack while Meath captain Donal Keogan was once again impressive in defence as Meath, who last won the O'Byrne Cup in 2006, kept Longford resurgence at arm's length.

Franics McGee and Robbie Smyth always posed a threat while Paul McKeon showed plenty of pace when he came on at half-time.

Scorers - Meath: G Reilly 0-6, M Newman 0-4 (4fs), C O'Sullivan 1-1, S Tobin, D Lenihan 0-2 each D Smyth, R O Coileain 0-1 each.

Longford: F McGee 0-6 (3fs, 1 45), R Smyth 1-2, M Brady, L Connerton, B McKeon all 0-1 each.

Meath: P O'Rourke; J O'Reilly, D Keogan, M Burke; A Douglas, P Harnan, C Finn; H Rooney, A Tormey; G Reilly, C O'Sullivan, D Smyth; C Downey, M Newman, D Lenihan. Subs: S Tobin for Tormey (44), P Geraghty for Douglas (53), R O Coileain for Downey (56), M Battersby for Reilly inj (68), Nicky Judge for Geraghty (68), D Rowe for Lenihan (68). 

Longford: P Collum; CP Smyth, B Gilleran, F Battrim; D Masterson, D Brady, A Dalton; M Brady, B Farrell; B McKeon, D Gallagher, J McGivney; R Smith, F McGee, M Hughes. Subs: D McElligott for Dalton (22), S Doyle for Farrell (23), L Connerton for Masterson (ht), P McKeon for McKeon (ht), B Kavanagh for Gallagher (41), P McGee for Brady (62).

Referee: B Cawley (Kildare).

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