SFC Qualifier: Red Hands hold on to down Royals

June 09, 2018

Meath's Cillian O'Sullivan and Colm Cavanagh of Tyrone tussle for possession

Tyrone 2-14
Meath 0-19  (after extra time) 

Meath put up a very creditable showing in this All-Ireland SFC first round qualifier at Pairc Tailteann but slipped to a minimum margin defeat to Tyrone. 

Early on it looked as it Tyrone would ease to victory but Meath rallied, hit the front only to be caught in the last act of normal time. 

Goals from Connor McAliskey and sub Harry Loughran proved crucial to the outcome. The latter arrived in the sixth minute of extra time and left the nearby scoreboard reading 2-12 to 0-15. 

As Meath ran out of gas, Tyrone remained in front to the end despite failing to register in the second-half of extra time. 

Points from subs Thomas O'Reilly, Shane Glynn and the returning Donal Lenihan trimmed the deficit to the minimum, but they were unable to fashion the required score. 

Tyrone's ability to take two of the many goal chances that came their way propelled them onwards. The applause afforded the Meath squad as they left the field was well merited. 

Whether Meath can build on this is for another day? The spirited showing is something to build on. 

At times Meath were very defensively set-up. Against that they fought their way into contention and almost scored a surprise win. 

Strong favourites Tyrone need a last gasp point from Cathal McShane to force extra-time. In nearly six minutes of added time Meath lost free-taker Ben Brennan to a second yellow card. 

Earlier, Meath lost regular free taker Donal Lenihan to injury. Despite this the home side upped their game in the final quarter to good effect. 

Meath hit the front for the first time in the 52nd minute when Brennan landed a free. Tyrone regained parity on three further occasions in normal time, but didn't lead again in normal time. 

Brennan was unlucky to hit the post from a 20-metre free in the 65th minute and was wide with a scoring attempt seconds later. 

His pointed free in the fifth minute of added time looked to have propelled Meath into the next round of qualifiers.

Then McShane struck to force an additional 20 minutes 

Tyrone replicated their start to match in the first seven minutes of extra time. James McEntee countered a McAliskey free with another brilliant point. 

Mickey Harte's moved five clear quickly with sub Harry Loughran palming to the net 

Despite playing with the breeze blowing from the town goal, Meath were set up defensively from the off. 

However, they cancelled out Connor McAliskey's opening point with a similar score from Ben Brennan, with Bryan Menton assisting. 

McAliskey brought his tally to 1-3 with a seventh minute goal. Conor Meyler and Michael McKernan were central in the build-up. 

Meath responded well with five consecutive points. The sequence started with two Donal Lenihan frees.  

Two half-backs combined for the next Meath scoring with James McEntee placing Donal Keogan. 

By the mid-point of the first-half, Meath were on terms for the second time when Cillian O'Sullivan sent over a great scores. 

Just before this Tyrone could have had a second goal, but Padraig McNulty's effort crashed against the crossbar. 

Tyrone responded well to this setback with three points on the bounce. The middle one saw wing-back McKernan become his side's second scorer. 

McAliskey's 22nd minute free brought his tally to 1-5 but was his side's last score of the half. 

Lenihan landed his third free in the 24th minute while Tyrone were denied three further goals in the run-in to the break. 

McAliskey was wide from close range with the net beckoning in the 25th minute. Six minutes later Meath 'keeper Andrew Colgan saved well from McNulty. 

The clock was in the 34th minute when McAliskey effort crashed against the woodwork and went wide. 

By half-time the wide count was eight-two against Tyrone who led by 1-6 to 0-7 at the break. 

Two Brennan points from play levelled matters for the third within six minutes of resumption 

A solo Joey Wallace point tied the scores for the fourth time, 0-11 to 1-8, in the 47th minute. It set the scene for a dramatic final quarter. 

How far Tyrone can go remains to be seen? Meath's year is over, but there is something to build on. 

Tyrone - Michael O'Neill; Padraig Hampsey, Ronan McNamee, Hugh Pat McGeary; Tiernan McCann, Frank Burns (0-2), Michael McKernan (0-1); Colm Cavanagh, Padraig McNulty; Mattie Donnelly, Niall Sludden (0-1), Conor Meyler; Cathal McShane (0-2), Richard Donnelly, Connor McAliskey (1-8, 0-6fs). Subs - Kieran McGeary for Meyler (49), Rory Brennan for H P McGeary (49), Harry Loughran for Donnelly (52), Declan McClure for McNulty (62),Ronan McNabb for McNamee (68). Extra-time - Ronan O'Neill for McCann, Meyler for McKernan (79), Conall McCann for McShane (86), Aidan McCrory for Hampsey (92), 

Meath - Andy Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Sean Curran; James McEntee (0-2), Donal Keogan (0-1), Shane Gallagher; Bryan Menton (C), Adam Flanagan; Cillian O'Sullivan (0-2), Ben Brennan (0-6, 3fs), Mickey Burke (0-1); Joey Wallace (0-1), Graham Reilly, Donal Lenihan (0-4fs). Subs - Thomas O'Reilly (0-1) for Lenihan (bs 45-46), T O'Reilly for Lenihan (54), Eamon Wallace for Burke (55), Bryan McMahon for J Wallace (59). Extra-time - Cian O'Brien for Brennan, Shane Glynn (0-1) for Gallagher (75), Daniel O'Neill for McGill (80), Lenihan for Lavin (84), Adam Flanagan (bc 90). 

Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)

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