O'Byrne Cup : Meath and Louth draw after dramatic finale

January 10, 2013

Louth's Jim McEneaney with Meath's Eoghan Harrington during the O'Byrne Cup clash at Pairc Tailteann
This local derby Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup Group A clash finished level after a dramatic finale at Pairc Tailteann on Thursday night.

Meath ....... 1-8
Louth ........ 0-11

Louth sub Jim McEneaney capped a cameo appearance with a fine point in the third minute of stoppage time to force a draw with Meath.

For most of the game, played in front of about 2,000 spectators, Aidan O'Rourke's charges made the running but fell into arrears for only the second time when Meath sub Paddy Gilsenan fired to the net in injury time at the town end.

Having played second fiddle for most of the 70 minutes, Meath's spirited second-half showing looked to have put a significant deposit on a 'semi' spot.

Seconds after Gilsenan struck for goal, McEneaney ensured Louth didn't leave empty handed and go into Sunday's final round of group games with a slender advantage over Meath.

Damien Carroll's who scored Meath's goal in the win over Longford on Sunday from a penalty saw a similar effort in the 70th minute saved by Louth 'keeper Neil Gallagher.

Were it netted, the board would have read 1-8 to 0-9. Then a Shane Lennon free doubled Louth's lead before the game's final brace of scores.

Should Meath beat UCD and Louth beat Longford the last four spot will go down to the side with the best points difference. The Wee County hold a three-point advantage in this regard.

Cooley Kickhams clubman Gallagher kept Louth in the game in the face of a Meath revival that produced several other goal chances.

One such save from Dalton McDonagh led to a 45 that was pointed by Meath 'keeper Paddy O'Rourke to leave the home side trailing by 0-4 to 0-8 after 50 minutes.

O'Rourke also saved well from Adrian Reid in the 59th minute while Meath defenders Sean Curran (two) and Stephen Crosby also registered scores.

Moments later a Lennon free yielded Louth first second-half score on a calm dry night. The Meath 'keeper was off target with two further attempts to score points from distance, including a 45 induced by a Gallagher save from another Carroll goal attempt.

Louth looked stronger and sharper in the early exchanges and after conceding the opening score to Joe Sheridan bossed the remainder of the half.

The biggest cheer of the opening period arrived in the 22nd minute when a linesman's intervention saw referee Fergal Kelly allow Damien Carroll point after the Ballinabrackey man's effort was waved wide.

That left Meath 0-2 to 0-6 in arrears on Mick O'Dowd's first home game in charge of the Royals. Louth responded with points from play by Eoin O'Connor and Brian White.

Louth led by 0-8 to 0-2 at the break and looked set to repeat their big win over Meath last spring that consigned the Royals to the third tier of league football.

One interested spectator was former Meath manager Seamus McEnaney whose successor Mick O'Dowd will be heartened by his charges second-half showing.

Equally, Louth manager Aidan O'Rourke can point to the manner in which his men forged a draw having gone into arrears at a crucial juncture.

Six different players got off the mark for Louth in the opening half with two James Califf points (one play, one 45) being the pick of their scores.

A tenacious defence that restricted Meath to just two first-half scores coughed up 1-6 after the change of ends with O'Rourke's effort being the only one not to come from play.

The outcome sets up an interesting finale to Group A on Sunday.

Scorers : Meath - P Gilsenan 1-0; S Crosby, D Carroll, S Curran 0-2 each, P O'Rourke (45), J Sheridan 0-1 each. .

Louth - S Lennon 0-4, 3fs, J Califf 0-2, 1 45, P Keenan, E O'Connor, B White, A McDonnell, J McEneaney 0-1 each.

Meath - P O'Rourke; D Dalton, C King, S Curran; C Rowe, E Harrington, S Crosby; C Gillespie, J Sheridan; M Collins, D Carroll, D McNamara; D McDonagh, P Byrne, B Sheridan. Subs - P Gilsenan for Collins, S Tobin for McNamara, B Meade for B Sheridan (all ht), C Young for Dalton (44), D Bray for McDonagh (60).

Louth - N Gallagher; J Bingham, B Mulligan, P Rath; G Hoey, L Shevlin, A Reid; D Finnegan, J Califf; A McDonnell, M Brennan, B White; E O'Connor, S Lennon, P Keenan. Subs - D O Connor for White (34), R Moore for McDonnell (ht), J Agnew (53), R Carroll for Califf (56), J McEneaney for O'Connor (70).

Referee - F Kelly (Longford)

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