Hackett the driving force as Royals find extra gear
Meath 1-11 Down 1-9
ALL-IRELAND JUNIOR C'SHIP FINAL
They key period in the game came in the middle 15 minutes or so of the second half, as Meath turned a one-point deficit into a three-point lead.
Down did very well to keep themselves in contention after conceding a third-minute goal to player of the match Sinead Hackett, who bundled the sliotar over the line after a Jane Dolan free had dropped short.
Fionnuala Carr had opened the scoring for the Mourne girls with a free, having been fouled after catching Caitriona McCrickard's puck-out.
Her sister, Sara-Louise Carr, responded to the goal with a good score, but Meath put the foot down to open up a four-point gap courtesy of scores from Aileen Donnelly, Hackett's brilliant effort over her right shoulder, and a Dolan free.
Down showed their character when hitting back with three points, kick-started by Sara-Louise Carr. She finished well after a 25-metre dash and Fionnuala Carr landed points from a '45' and a free to reduce the margin to the minimum. The '45' came as a result of a deflection on a Catherine McGourty ground shot that seemed destined for the net, but the Royals had a similar opportunity when Donnelly doubled on a breaking ball but sent the sliotar just wide.
It was 1-5 to 0-6 at half-time, but Sara-Louise Carr crashed a powerful shot beyond Emily Mangan five minutes after the resumption. She had another opportunity soon afterwards, after a pass from Karen McMullan, but Claire Coffey blocked superbly.
Another goal then would have put Down in the box seat but instead, Aoife Maguire pointed almost immediately at the other end -- in truth, it was a tremendous goal chance -- and with Dolan, Donnelly, Lizzy Oakes and Hackett also raising white flags, Meath were in control. Just as they did last year, though, Down found another gear and, with Karen Tinnelly and Lisa McCrickard propelling them forward, they reduced the margin. Fionnuala Carr had a chance to level but her shot dropped short before Dolan had the final say from a free.
Scorers -- Meath: S Hackett 1-2, A Donnelly, J Dolan 0-3 (2f) each, K Troy, A Maguire, L Oakes 0-1 each. Down: F Carr 0-6 (5f, 1 '45'),S-L Carr 1-2, N Braniff 0-1.
Meath -- E Mangan 7; H Geraghty 7, C Coffey 8, F O'Neill 8; L Donoghue 7, A Thompson 7, A Keogh 7; AM Fagan 7, K Troy 8; E Guy 6, J Dolan 6, A Donnelly 7; A Maguire 6, S Hackett 9, K Hackett 6. Subs: L Oakes 7 for Guy (37), E Lynch 6 for Maguire (53).
Down -- C McCrickard 7; K Tinnelly 8, G O'Higgins 7, C McGovern 7; C Rocks 7, L McCrickard 8, E McCormick 7; P Gribben 7, M McNally 6; L McPolin 6, S-L Carr 8, F Carr 7; N Mallon 6, L Hughes 6, C McGourty 6. Subs: K McMullan 7 for Mallon (inj, 21), O Maginn 6 for McNally (30+1), K O'Higgins 6 for Hughes (44), N Braniff 6 for McPolin (57).
Ref -- R McNicholas (Galway).