Ross helps Royals fend off tenacious Longford
Meath 2-23 Longford 2-18
Holders Meath advanced to another JFC decider following this high-scoring semi-final win at Páirc Tailteann yesterday evening.
The Royals started with five of the team that defeated Louth in last year's decider and established an early stranglehold on proceedings as they opened up an 11-point lead. However a tenacious Longford reduced the deficit to four points at one stage in the third quarter and remained a threat.
The sides were level after Killian Farrell netted for the Midlanders on eight minutes but Meath responded at the other end with Luke Martyn firing to the net.
That gave the host a lead they weren't to relinquish. Peter O'Connell, who hit 1-3 in the opening half, struck for a second Meath goal on 11 minutes and with Daire Rowe and Kevin Ross both in fine scoring form Meath led 2-13 to 1-8 at the break. Rowe and Ross increased the lead on the restart before Longford staged a comeback of sorts with sub Shane Kenny finishing to the net.
Paddy Kieran and Hughes reduced the deficit further but Meath did enough to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Ross continued his excellent scoring rate throughout the second half and finished with a tally of nine points. Longford again reduced the deficit to four points but subs Conor Farrell and Darren Finney accounted for points to leave it comfortable enough for the Royals.
Scorers - Meath: K Ross 0-9 (4fs), P O'Connell 1-3, D Rowe 0-6 (3fs), L Martyn 1-0, D Quinn 0-2, C Farrell, E O Donachada, D Finney 0-1. Longford: M Hughes 0-6 (2fs), P Kiernan 0-4, N Rabbitte 0-3, S Kenny, K Farrell 1-0 each, B Farrell (45), C Shields, D Doherty, J Kelly, D Morgan 0-1.
Meath - C McHugh; C O'Rourke, C McPartland, M Flood; N Judge, C Dempsey, T O'Reilly; S Clare, K Traynor; D Quinn, P O'Connell, C McConnell; K Ross, L Martyn, D Rowe. Subs: C Farrell for Clare (h-t), E O Donachada for Quinn (43), D Finney for McConnell (56), G Reidy for Flood (58), P Lynch for Rowe (60),J Keane for O'Reilly (64).
Longford - C Farrell; C Shields, C Farrell, K Sorohan; E Noonan, F Battrim, R Brady; B Farrell, A Dalton; N Rabbitte, D Cooney, P Kerrigan; D Doherty, K Farrell, M Hughes. Subs: S Kenny for Noonan (14), G Rogers for Cooney (20), F Sheridan for Brady (h-t), J Kelly for Doherty (42), D Morgan for K Farrell (46), R Clarke for Rabbitte (53).
Ref- S Johnson (Louth)