Referee receives escort from pitch as Tyrone controversially edge out Meath
Tyrone 2-14 Meath 0-19
Tyrone booked their place in the second round of the qualifiers when they outlasted Meath after extra-time in an absorbing and controversial Pairc Tailteann clash.
The Royals battled gamely for much of the afternoon in Navan and looked to have the game won when Ben Brennan pointed a tricky free deep in injury time. However, Tyrone manufactured an equaliser through the ice cool Cathal McShane which push the game to extra-time.
And there was more drama late in injury time in the second period of extra time when James McEntee was denied what looked like a free from a kickable position when the Royals were a point down.
Referee Paddy Neilan left the field to a chorus of boos from the home support after being confronted by a number of Meath players on the final whistle.
The first half of normal time was all about Conor McAliskey. The Clonoe man was one of the few Tyrone players to emerge from the defeat to Monaghan with any real credit and he continued that good form here. He hit 1-5 of Tyrone’s 1-6 total in the opening 35 minutes. His goal came on eight minutes when Michael McKernan surged towards the end line to pick out McAliskey. His strike wasn't the cleanest but it wriggled its way past Andrew Colgan in the Meath goal.
That score put Tyrone four to the good but the Royals would hit back with four unanswered points from Donal Lenihan (two frees), Donal Keogan and Cillian O’Sullivan.
But if they Royals were able to cause problems going forward, they were under pressure at the back. Tyrone might have had three more first half goals but saw one pulled back for a throw ball in the build up. Colgan did well to push away a powerful Padraig McNulty effort while late in the half, McAliskey gathered a shot cum pass from Richie Donnelly only to see his effort cannon back off the crossbar. That was the last significant action of the half and saw the Ulster side take a 1-6 to 0-7 lead in at the break.
The sides were well matched after the restart but Meath hit the front for the first time in the match on 52 minutes. Both sides then had big penalty shouts waved away by Neilan but the real drama would be saved for the closing stages of normal time. Ben Brennan hit the post with a free that would have put Meath two up before Tiernan McCann was given his marching orders.
Tyrone pulled level on 70 minutes through another McAliskey free before Brennan kicked what looked to be the winning free deep in injury time.
The Royals were then reduced to 14 men when Brennan was given his second yellow card with time all but up. However, referee Neilan played on and Cathal McShane held his nerve to secure extra-time.
In the additional period Harry Loughran stepped up to grab what would prove to be the decisive goal as Tyrone took a four point lead in at the break in extra time.
Meath would battle to the end and cut the gap to one in injury time. The Royals looked to have manufactured a chance late in the game when James McEntee looked to be fouled in a scoreable area. However, Neilan didn’t blow and Tyrone booked their place in the second round of the qualifiers.
SCORERS - Tyrone: C McAliskey 1-8 (6f), H Loughran 1-0, F Burns, C McShane 0-2 each, M McKernan, N Sludden 0-1 each.
Meath: B Brennan 0-6 (3f), D Lenihan 0-4 (4f), J McEntee, C O’Sullivan 0-2 each, D Keogan , J Wallace, M Burke, S Glynn T O’Reilly 0-1 each.
Tyrone: M O’Neill; P Hampsey, R McNamee, HP McGeary; T McCann, F Burns, M McKernan; C Cavanagh, P McNulty; M Donnelly, N Sludden, C Meyler; C McShane, R Donnelly, C McAliskey SUBS: K McGeary for Meyler, R Brennan for HP McGeary (49), H Loughran for R Donnelly (52), D McClure for McNulty (63), R McNabb for McNamee (67), R O’Neill in for start of extra time in place of T McCann), C Meyler for McKernan (79), C McCann for McShane (86), A McCrory for Hampsey (90)
Meath: A Colgan; S Lavin, C McGill, S Curran; J McEntee, D Keogan, S Gallagher; B Menton, A Flanagan; C O’Sullivan, B Brennan, M Burke; J Walllace, G Reilly, D Lenihan SUBS: T O’Reilly for Lenihan (55), E Wallace for Burke (51), B McMahon for J Wallace (58), C O’Brien for Brennan (for start of extra time, in place of B Brennan), S Glynn for Gallagher (75), D O’Neill for McGill (80), D Lenihan for Lavin (83),
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)