Monday 19 March 2018

Royals leave it late but finally open backdoor again

Meath 0-14 Sligo 1-9

Meath’s Donal Lenihan holds the ball under pressure from Keelan Cawley. Photo: Sportsfile
Meath’s Donal Lenihan holds the ball under pressure from Keelan Cawley. Photo: Sportsfile
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Meath's barren years without a win in the All-Ireland qualifiers ended at Páirc Tailteann last night with a late flurry of scores to snatch a hard-earned victory - their last backdoor victory was in July 2011 when they defeated Galway in Navan.

The throw-in was delayed by ten minutes due to crowd congestion, and it was end-to-end football in the first half, if not of the highest standard or particularly rousing for the approximately 5,000 supporters in attendance.

Adrian Marren kept Sligo ticking along with four points, three from frees and one via a 45, while Meath's scores were spread around five players with Lenihan clipping two points from frees.

The sides were level on 0-6 each when Sligo gouged out a goal that sent them into interval leading by 1-6 to 0-6.

John Kelly was twice involved in the move down the central area when he got the ball to Ger O'Kelly-Lynch who knocked the ball into the net from close range.

Meath needed an early strike in the first half and a Graham Reilly point, followed by another from Cillian O'Sullivan left them just one behind after 42 minutes.

Sligo lost talisman Charlie Harrison to injury shortly after - he was replaced by Noel Gaughan.

The battle continued, and finally Meath equalised, with a powerful strike from 25 metres by Sean Tobin in the 54th minute.

But the agony went on for the home followers as Neil Ewing edged the visitors ahead once more with 12 minutes to go.

It all changed, however, when Mickey Newman came on to replace Donal Lenihan as Newman slotted over two frees. Finally, Meath were ahead by 0-12 to 1-8 with three minutes of normal time left.

Sean Tobin hammered over Meath's 13th score, giving them a tiny breathing space, and he Tobin went one better, slotting another score in the 75th minute.


Meath: D Lenihan 0-3 (2f); S Tobin 0-3 (1 45); G Reilly, M Newman (2f) 0-2 each; J McEntee, R Jones; S McEntee; C O'Sullivan 0-1 each.

Sligo: A Marren 0-4 (3f, 45); G O'Kelly-Lynch 1-1; S Tobin, N Murphy, N Ewing, D Kelly 0-1 each.

Meath: P O'Rourke; M Burke, C McGill, B Power; P Harnan, D Keogan, S McEntee; B Menton, R Jones; J McEntee, C O'Sullivan, R O'Coilean; G Reilly, S Tobin, D Lenihan.

Subs: J Toher for R Jones (inj. 15); B Conlon for B Power (ht); M Newman for D Lenihan (61); D Tobin for P Harnan (64).

Sligo: A Devaney; R Donovan, G O'Kelly-Lynch, C Harrison; K Cawley, B Egan, J Kelly; A McIntyre, P O'Connor; N Ewing, M Breheny, N Murphy; S Coen, P Hughes, A Marren.

Subs: N Gaughan for C Harrison (46); K Cawley for J Kelly (48); K McDonnell for M Breheny (54); D Kelly for B Egan (b/card) 57; S Gilmartin for A McIntyre (66); C Davey for P O'Connor (72).

Ref: N Mooney (Cavan).

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