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Gritty Royals secure title after late Gannon goal


Gerry Keegan, Kildare

Gerry Keegan, Kildare


Gerry Keegan, Kildare

Meath were never in front throughout regulation time but that didn't prevent them winning this competition for the seventh time at Hawkfield.

Last year's victors Kildare had the wind in the first half but shot 14 wides in that period. They had 19 by the end of normal time, when late points from influential sub Ciaran Fitzsimmons and Adam Gannon rescued Meath.

The Royals lost Peter Durnin to a second yellow card just before the end of the second half so weren't at a numerical disadvantage for long, with Willie McGrath restoring them to the full complement for extra-time.

They scored the opening three points of that period through Stephen Morris, Fitzsimmons and Declan Reilly to get their noses in front for the first time, and a 90th-minute goal by Gannon confirmed Meath's success.

Two points from Gerry Keegan established the early Kildare advantage but Derek Doran and McGrath helped Meath settle and they trailed by just 0-4 to 0-3 after 17 minutes.

The home side had eight wides already by then and their radar didn't improve, but they went in at the interval 0-7 to 0-6 ahead.

Meath were unable to capitalise on the wind, however, and Kildare went three clear. Reilly and Durnin brought it back to one again though and the teams continued to exchange scores until Richie Hoban and Martin Fitzgerald pushed the Lilies 0-15 to 0-12 in front.

The visitors showed their mettle to fight back and Reilly, Fitzsimmons and Gannon earned them another 20 minutes, which they used to very good effect.

SCORERS – Meath: D Reilly 0-8 (4fs, 1 sl, 1 '65'), A Gannon 1-4, C Fitzsimmons 0-3, W McGrath 0-2, Peter Durnin, S Heavey, S Morris, D Doran 0-1 each. Kildare: G Keegan 0-6 (3fs), P Divilly 0-4 (1f, 1 '65'), R Hoban (2fs), B White, M Delaney, M Fitzgerald 0-2 each, W Greene 0-1.

MEATH – S McGann; C Reilly, N McLoughlin, D Donoghue; S Heavey, S Morris, S Whitty; D Reilly, J Toher; T McGrath, G Kelly, W McGrath; D Doran, P Durnin, A Gannon. Subs: C Fitzsimmons for T McGrath (50), P Farrell for W McGrath (61), A Healy for Doran (89), S Brennan for Kelly (89), J Martin for W McGrath (90).

KILDARE – P Dermody; J O'Malley, J Doran, N O Muineachain; E O'Neill, M Moloney, R Hoban; B White, M Fitzgerald; R McLoughney, P Divilly, T Murphy; G Keegan, P Downey, W Greene. Subs: M Delaney for Downey (49), P Kennedy for Murphy (65), Murphy for Greene (71), B Deay for White (81), R Casey for Murphy (90).

REF – J Heffernan (Wexford)

Irish Independent