Tuesday 19 November 2019

Meath draw sets up a dream semi-final with Dublin

Meath 1-14 DCU 1-14

Brian Donnelly, DCU, in action against Donncha Tobin, Meath
Brian Donnelly, DCU, in action against Donncha Tobin, Meath
Ciaran McConnell, Meath, in action against Diarmuid O'Connor and Eoin O'Connor, DCU
Donal Wrynn, DCU, in action against Harry Rooney and Damien Carroll, Meath

Paul Keane

Local legend Seán Boylan was left with mixed feelings as Meath held on to secure an O'Byrne Cup semi-final clash with old rivals Dublin.

The four-time All-Ireland winning Meath manager was part of DCU's backroom team and the 2012 champions led by three with 11 minutes remaining. But a four-in-a-row of Meath points earned the hosts a precious draw which was enough to secure their semi-final place.

They will return to Navan next Sunday to play Dublin in what will be a repeat of the last three Leinster championship finals.

DCU will kick themselves for not winning as they fought back impressively after a slow start. They trailed by four at half-time but a starring display from Dublin's Conor McHugh turned things around.

They weren't able to hold out though and required Diarmuid O'Connor to kick a 68th minute equaliser from the right wing.

Meath kicked 13 wides on the night and will feel they should have topped Group C with three wins. David Bray put them in pole position with a second minute goal. Wing-back Ciaran McConnell kicked the diagonal ball in from the right wing and Bray's left foot finish to the bottom right was precise.

Graham Reilly was Meath's liveliest attacker and continued his good form from the Round 2 win over Westmeath. He booted two long range points in the first-half while Mark O'Sullivan converted three frees to put the Royals 1-7 to 0-6 up at the break.

The hosts should have been further ahead as they kicked eight wides in the half. As for DCU, McHugh was their biggest threat and last year's All-Ireland under 21 final star kicked three first-half points.

They were boosted by a goal early in the second-half from sub Conor McGraynor of Wicklow. And when McHugh added four more points to take his tally to 0-7 for the evening they led 1-13 to 0-10.

But those four Meath points without reply turned the game again in the final 10 minutes or so. Bryan Menton, Nicky Judge, Reilly and O'Sullivan were all on the mark to put them one clear with two minutes left.

Manager Mick O'Dowd will be disappointed to have not secured the win but a draw was enough to put them through as group winners with five points.

Scorers - Meath: D Bray 1-2, M O'Sullivan 0-5 (5f), G Reilly 0-3, D Tobin, J Wallace, B Menton and N Judge 0-1 each. DCU: C McHugh 0-7 (5f), C McGraynor 1-0, D Byrne 0-2, N Murphy, D Smith, E O'Connor, T Flynn and D O'Connor 0-1 each.

Meath: P O'Rourke; D Tobin, C McGill, M Burke; C McConnell, D Keogan, S Melia; H Rooney, A Flanagan; G Reilly, M O'Sullivan, A Tormey; D Carroll, D Bray, J Wallace. Subs: N Judge for Melia, B Menton for Rooney and S Mattimoe for Carroll (all h/t), J Queeney for Bray (56), S Carty for McConnell (62), R O'Dowd for O'Sullivan (68).

DCU: R O'Flaherty; J Smith, D Wrynn, D Byrne; J Bealin, C Moynagh, C Begley; T Flynn, E O'Connor; E Smith, C Meredith, D O'Connor; C McHugh, N Murphy, D Smith. Subs: C McGraynor for D Smith (h/t), R Connor for Murphy (54), C Daly for Connor (66, b/c), B Donnelly for Flynn (68).

Referee: S Johnson (Louth)

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