Leinster MFC: resolute Royals send Dubs packing

May 23, 2018

Dublin's Luke Swan with Harry O'Higgins of Meath.
©INPHO/Tommy Dickson.

Meath came from behind at sun-kissed Navan tonight to inflict an eye-catching 1-13 to 2-8 defeat on Dublin.

Resounding victors over Westmeath last time out, the Meath U17s thus maintain their 100% record in the round-robin section of the all-new provincial U17 competition, while, despite two Luke Swan goals, the Dubs were unable to add to their first-round win over Louth.

Bryan McCormack's three-pointer in injury time at the end of the first half proved to be the critical score, ensuring the winners of a deserved 1-7 to 1-4 half-time lead. It hadn't looked so good when they fell four points behind early on, but the home team played some excellent stuff thereafter to complete a seven-point swing before the break.

Centre back Liam Dunne struck first for the visitors and Conor Hennessy doubled their lead in the fourth minute, before full forward Swan netted to leave some daylight between the sides with just nine minutes played, after David Bell had opened the Royal account in the seventh minute, 1-2 to 0-1.

McCormack and top scorer Luke Mitchell (2) kept the home side motoring as they pared the deficit down to just a point with 13 minutes played.

Sean Foran (with the visitors' first score in 14 minutes) and wing back Mark Lavin replied with Dubs scores either side of one from Meath's Matthew Costello. Two minutes from the break, Mitchell's third of the night had Joe Treanor's charges back within the minimum; on-song centre forward Luke Kelly drew a huge roar from the home faithful when he equalised 60 seconds later.

The next roar on Brews Hill was almost deafening: McCormack's three-pointer giving the Royal County a hard-earned and handy half-time cushion.

Kelly had the Meath advantage out to four within 90 seconds of the restart and Bell was on hand to make it 1-9 to 1-4 in favour of the Royals, who were visibly growing in confidence, with 34 minutes played. The gap went out to six as Mitchell floated over frees either side of a Conor Murray reply.

Fourteen minutes into the second half, dual star Swan's second goal halved the deficit and offered the Dubs a potential lifeline but Mitchell's sixth point (free) gave the Royals precious breathing space via a four-point lead.

Enda Cashman's point five minutes from the end set up a nervy finale but, on the stroke of full time, Costello cancelled out a Malachy Codd point as the Royals refused to wilt. Lavin pointed a Dublin free two minutes into added time but this slick Meath combination was not going to be denied.

Meath - S Brennan; J O'Hare, H O'Higgins, C Hickey; C Farrelly, C Harford, S Coffey; A Reilly, C McBride; M Costello (0-2, 1f), L Kelly (0-2), C Hawdon; D Bell (0-2, 1f), L Mitchell (0-6, 4f), B McCormack (1-1). Subs: D Swaine for C Hawdon, B O'Hanlon for D Bell, D Morgan for B McCormack, J Moore for L Kelly, O McCloskey for J O'Hare.

Dublin - S Murphy; J Bannon, A Fearon, A Rafter; R O'Dwyer, L Dunne (0-1), M Lavin (0-2f); E Adamson, M O'Leary; C Murray (0-1), E Cashman (0-1), C Hennessy (0-1); M Dunne, L Swan (2-0), S Foran (0-1). Subs: C McManus for L Dunne, M Grogan for M Dunne, S Guiden for C Murray, C O'Brien for A Fearon, M Codd (0-1) for E Adamson.

Referee - B Cawley.

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