Substitute Sean Tobin scored the second-half goal that helped Meath to a 1-20 to 1-13 O'Byrne Cup victory over Wexford yesterday to set up a semi-final clash against Dublin at Parnell Park on Saturday (7.0).
With Meath leading 0-15 to 0-9 on 55 minutes in Enniscorthy, Tobin got on the end of a neat move and created space before firing to the roof the net. Tobin could have had a second before the end, but he pulled his low shot the wrong side of the post.
Wexford had a disallowed goal after 26 minutes when John Tubritt's strike was ruled out after a linesman flagged the move for four consecutive handpasses.
Meath, a point ahead at the time, picked up their game following this let-off to finish the half strongly, adding points through Darragh Campion, Michael Newman (two apiece), and Adam Flanagan, to lead 0-9 to 0-5 at the interval.
The visitors started the second half strongly with Thomas O'Reilly, Newman and substitute Graham Reilly picking off points as they assumed control, but Wexford managed to restrict further scoring until Tobin's fine goal.
Wexford's goal one minute from the end, when substitute Donal Shanley intercepted a poor kick-out to lob the stranded goalkeeper, came far too late.
Longford also secured their spot in the semi-finals as their clash with Louth finished all square - 1-16 to 1-16 - at Pearse Park. Padraic Davis' side will face the winners of today's clash between Westmeath and Kildare in the last four.
Longford looked set for victory in the closing stages but a point from the boot of Declan Byrne spoiled the party.
Louth had the perfect opportunity to put some daylight between the sides inside the first minute when their full-forward Sam Mulroy broke free but he blasted his point-blank shot off the crossbar.
The home side didn't panic, however, and they fired over three well-taken points to put them in control. A brace of scores from Robbie Smyth opened their account, while Shane Donohoe and Peter Lynn showed brilliant accuracy from acute positions.
Davis's men continued to dominate the exchanges over the course of the first half with Mickey Quinn and Robbie Smyth the main protagonists.
A well-engineered goal for the visitors got them back on track, though. Eoghan Callaghan picked out the roving Tadgh McEneaney, who flicked the ball to the roof of the Longford net.
The midlanders, without the services of the Mullinalaghta players, regained control as Peter Lynn found the back of the Louth net and two further points without reply from Darren Gallagher and Smyth gave them a six-point cushion at the interval.
After the break the visitors introduced a host of substitutes and they quickly hit Longford for three points on the trot. Conal McKeever registered their opening score of the half and Ronan Holocroft hit a brace of points, although soon afterwards he was taken off in an effort to save him for league duty when these sides meet again at the end of the month.
Two points apiece from Byrne and Mulroy dragged Louth back into the contest before Jim McEneaney levelled the game with seven minutes remaining.
However, Jim McEneaney was then shown a black card for a foul on Smyth and the Abbeylara man duly obliged from the placed ball, but a final point from the boot of Byrne ensured they would share the spoils.
Elsewhere, the effects of the new handpass rule were laid bare just 16 minutes into Carlow's O'Byrne Cup game against Offaly at Netwatch Cullen Park, a clash the home side eventually won by one point, 3-12 to 2-14.
Carlow began the game brightly and eased into a three-point lead before Anton Sullivan knocked over two long-range points for the visitors.
As Carlow moved the ball back down the field Offaly looked to have covered the space but the Barrowsiders put a series of handpasses together to release Shane Clarke.
A goal chance presented itself as the ball-carrier opted to take his point. However, Carlow were pinged for one handpass too many and the opportunity was lost.
In a lively first half, Carlow goalkeeper Robert Sansom saved well from Niall Darby at the expense of a point but at the other end Simon Doyle hit a shot to the bottom corner that gave Jason Dunne no chance, and helped the hosts to a 1-8 to 0-8 interval lead.
The concession of a series of frees cost Carlow dearly in the second half with Bernard Allen converting three efforts to cancel out the home lead.
Carlow hit back with two goals in less than ten minutes though - Lee Walker first finding the net before Darragh Foley flicked home after Walker's initial shot had been saved by Dunne.
Offaly hit back with an Allen penalty after he had been fouled to set up a dramatic final ten minutes, with Conor Carroll punching in a late Offaly goal, but Carlow kept their heads and Darren Lunney scored the winning point.
Laois snatched victory from Wicklow with almost the last kick of the game in Bray. Wicklow were ahead by 2-10 to 1-11 as the match went into the third minute of injury time but in a last gasp attack Paul Kingston fired to the net from close range for the winner.
In the Munster Senior Hurling League, three first-half goals helped Tipperary into the final as they comprehensively defeated Kerry at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh by 4-20 to 1-14.
Conditions were ideal and it didn't take Tipperary long to stamp their authority with a flurry of early points.
However the goals were the major talking points, with the first coming from Jason Forde in the 25th minute, followed by a Mark Kehoe effort six minutes later.
But the pick of the scores was the Noel McGrath goal in the 34th minute as he raced on to a Forde sideline cut from across the field and volleyed the ball directly to the net - a score which gave Liam Sheedy's men a 3-14 to 0-7 interval lead, Brandon Barrett getting four of the Kerry points.
The second half was only three minutes old when the Kerry net was rattled again, this time by Patrick Maher, who saw his initial shot saved but followed up to knock the ball past the helpless John O'Halloran.
Kerry battled gamely but they just could not match Tipperary's speed in attack. However, they did get a fine goal from centre-forward Shane Conway in the 28th minute as he cut through and buried the ball past Barry Hogan.
Tipperary, with ten different scorers, are now through to the final of the league with their opponents to be decided this afternoon when Waterford take on Clare at Fraher Field (2.0).
Sunday Indo Sport