O'Sullivan is king as Royals romp to victory
Meath 4-24 Wicklow 2-15
Mark O'Sullivan produced a scintillating display at Parnell Park on Saturday to ensure that Meath will ply their trade in Division 2A of the 2018 NHL.
The older brother of football star Cillian and Belvedere College rugby prodigy Hugh hit a hat-trick of goals and also contributed five points as the Royals added the title to last season's Christy Ring Cup success.
Beaten in three previous final appearances, Meath justified favouritism as they turned on the style following a closely fought opening half.
By the 14th minute Meath had opened up a 0-6 to 0-2 lead, but Wicklow hit back and went ahead for the first time after George O'Brien hit the net on 21 minutes.
The Garden County still led after Andy O'Brien pointed on 28 minutes, but then O'Sullivan struck for two quick-fire goals to leave his side in the ascendancy.
Wicklow did respond with a goal from full-forward Andy O'Brien, but with Steven Clynch adding his fourth point it was Meath who led 2-9 to 2-6 at the break.
A magnificent opening seven minutes of the second-half, during which they hit 1-6 to open up a 3-15 to 2-6 lead, effectively put the Royals out of reach.
O'Sullivan struck for his third goal in that spell, finding the net within 30 seconds of the restart.
Wicklow reduced the deficit to eight points in the final quarter, but substitute Neil Heffernan ended any faint hopes of a close finish with his side's fourth goal.
SCORERS - Meath: M O'Sullivan 3-5, S Clynch 0-7 (6fs), N Heffernan 1-0, J Kelly 0-3, J Keena, S Brennan 0-2 each, K Keoghan, A Forde, D Healy, A Gannon, S Quigley (f) 0-1 each.
Wicklow: C Moorehouse 0-6 (5fs), A O'Brien 1-2, G O'Brien 1-1, E McCormack 0-3, P Doyle, P Keane, D Staunton 0-1 each.
MEATH: S McGann 6; S Geraghty 7, S Whitty 6, C Reilly 6; S Brennan 8, D Kelly 8, K Keoghan 8; A Forde 7, J Keena 7; K Keena 6, D Healy 7, J Kelly 7; A Gannon 6, S Clynch 7, M O'Sullivan 9. Subs: N Heffernan 6 for K Keena ((42), S Quigley 6 for Reilly (48), G McGowan 6 for J Keena (62), P Kelly for D Kelly (67), M O'Grady for J Kelly (68).
WICKLOW: E O'Mahony 6; L Maloney 6, M O'Brien 6, W Kavanagh 6; G Byrne 6, J Henderson 7, P Keane 7; E Kearns 7, R Keddy 7; D Staunton 7, C Moorehouse 8, D Masterson 6; G O'Brien 7, A O'Brien 8, P Doyle 6. Subs: E Dunne 6 for Maloney (45), E McCormack 7 for Doyle (53), W Kinsella 6 for Masterson (58), J Connors 6 for Keane (59), B Cuddihy for Keddy (68).
REF: J Heffernan (Wexford)