NFL Division II: Meath edge tense local battle as Kildare surrender lead again
A strong finish from Meath got their push for promotion from Division Two back on track in a gripping local derby in Navan tonight.
The home side were four points down and struggling early in the second half as Kildare took control.
But Meath showed great resolve and eventually took command with Donaghmore-Ashbourne pair Bryan Menton and Andrew Tormey the driving forces.
It was Tormey who took over free-taking duties form a mis-firing Mickey Newman to draw Meath level on 60 minutes from a difficult angle while Menton initiated the move for Newman to put Meath clear just a minute later.
Kildare did draw level through Eoghan O'Flaherty's free but the momentum was all with Mick O'Dowd's side with Tormey sweeping to a fourth point before Adam Flanagan made it safe.
The result will be a disappointment to Kildare who conceded two late goals to lose to Down last week and their hopes of returning quickly to Division One have receded.
The pace was hectic but mistakes were far too numerous and the standard of decision-making from both sides was generally poor.
Meath weren't helped by a ninth minute black card for Graham Reilly for a late challenge that referee Ciaran Branagan, following consultation with one of his officials, deemed to be deliberate.
Meath were leading by 0-2 to 0-1 at that stage, courtesy of two Newman frees, but Kildare took firm control after that and dictated the pace of the game impressively.
Fionn Dowling, Keith Cribbin, a late replacement for Ollie Lyons and Darroch Mulhall from a free pushed them 0-4 to 0-2 clear by the 22nd minute before Andrew Tormey gave the home side some brief respite when he punished a stray Ciaran Fitzpatrick pass out of defence.
But Kildare were patient and composed on the counter-attack and kicked on with three more points from Dowling and Paudie O'Neill (two) and panic ripped through the heart of Meath's play.
Newman struck a post and was wide from two subsequent frees and the home crowd began to vent their frustrations audibly.
Bryan Menton, who drove consistently at the Kildare defence, arrested the slide late on to leave it 0-7 to 0-4 at the break.
Mulhall's impressive accuracy was evident in the early stages of the second half with two sublime points, one from a long range free to keep the foot on the gas, and they led by 0-9 to 0-5 on 42 minutes.
But Meath showed a lot of grit to chase down that four point deficit and recover from their trip to Galway six days earlier.
They also welcomed Eamonn Wallace back after 12 months out with a cruciate ligament injury, the Ratoath flyer coming on as a late replacement.
Elsewhere in Division II, two goals from Donie Kingston were not enough to prevent Laois losing to Cavan in Portlaoise on a scoreline of 2-6 to -17.
Roscommon continued their impressive start to 2015 with a 1-15 to 1-11 victory over Down in Newry.
Scorers - Meath: A Tormey 0-4 (1f), M Newman 0-3 (2fs), S Tobin 0-2 (2fs), S Bray, P O'Rourke (f) B Menton, A Flanagan 0-1 each.
Kildare: D Mulhall 0-4 (3fs), P O'Neill, F Dowling 0-2 each, M O'Grady, K Cribbin, E O'Flaherty (f) 0-1 each.
Meath: A Tormey 0-4 (1f), M Newman 0-3 (2fs), S Tobin 0-2 (2fs), S Bray, B Menton 0-1 each.
Meath: P O'Rourke; D Tobin, C McGill, D Keogan; D Dalton, M Burke, B Menton; H Rooney, A Flanagan; G Reilly, P Harnan, A Tormey; J Wallace, S Bray, M Newman. Subs: S Tobin for Reilly (black, 10), D Bray for Wallace (35), B Power for Harnan (56), E Wallace for D Bray (69).
Kildare: M Donnellan; C Fitzpatrick, P Kelly, O Lyons; M O'Grady, D O'Brien, E Doyle; G White, P O'Neill; E Callaghan, E O'Flaharta, K Cribbin; D Mulhall, F Dowling, P Fogarty. Subs: N Kelly for Dowling (51), T O'Connor for Fogarty (61), F Conway for Fitzpatrick (65)