Meath through to Super 8s following tight win over game Clare
Meath 2-16 Clare 1-18
Meath claimed the final spot in this year's ‘Super 8s' but only aft being brought to the wire by a game Clare side.
The counties had never met in the championship before this Portlaoise clash but Mickey Newman's 42nd minute goal, where he swapped passes with Padraic Harnan, proved crucial in a nail biting affair between two well matched sides.
Newman's major came just after Clare grabbed a goal through Gavin Cooney. The Clare man capitalised on hesitation under a dropping ball between Meath goalkeeper Andy Colgan and Shane Gallagher to give his side a one point lead.
However Andy McEntee's men struck back almost immediately and though the Royals had to ensure some nervy moments in the six minutes of injury time, they hung on grimly.
The sides were well matched and level on eight occasions in the first half. And it wasn't until Bryan Menton's goal as the clock hit the 35 minute mark that either side led by more than one. Menton followed up after Donal Keogan had ghosted through the Clare defence only to see his effort cleared off the line by the recovering Kevin Hartnett.
Mickey Newman and James Conlon were having some joy in the Meath attack, kicking seven first half points between them but Clare's Jamie Malone landed four brilliant first half scores including the last score of the half that ensured the sides went in level at the break, 1-9 to 0-12.
There was little to separate the teams int he second half too. Newman's goal put Meath in a lead that they would never relinquish but they were made to fight all the way by Colm Collins men. The Royals now more on to a Super 8s clash with Donegal in Ballybofey next Sunday.
SCORERS - Meath: M Newman 1-6 (5f), J Conlon 0-3, B Menton 1-0, D Keogan, E Devine, T McGovern, B McMahon, S Walsh (1f), B Brennan, C O'Sullivan 0-1 each.
Clare: D Tubridy 0-6 (3f), J Malone 0-4, G Cooney 1-0, C O'Connor, E Cleary (1f) 0-2 each, C O'Dea, G Kelly, G Brennan, D Coughlan 0-1 each
Meath: A Colgan; S Lavin, C McGill, S Gallagher; D Keogan, P Harnan, G McCoy; B Menton,S McEntee; E Devine, B McMahon, T McGovern; C O'Sullivan, M Newman, J Conlon SUBS: T O'Reilly for Newman (BS 43-54) , G Reilly for McGovern (45), S Walsh for Newman (54), S Curran for Gallagher (60), B Brennan or Devine (62), S Tobin for Conlon (72), T O'Reilly for McMahon (BC 74).
Clare: S Ryan; G Kelly, C Brennan, D Ryan; S Collins, A Fitzgerald, K Harnett; G Brennan, C O'Connor; S O'Donoghue, E Cleary, J Malone; G Cooney, D Tubridy, C O'Dea SUBS: K Malone for O'Donoghue (47), D Coughlan for Cooney (54), E O'Connor for Kelly (BC 62), G O'Brien for Ryan (64), E Courtney for Cleary (72)
Referee: D O'Mahoney (Tipperary)