HL2B: Conway goals down Meath

March 24, 2014

Down's Donal Hughes
NHL Division 2B

Down 2-8
Meath 0-11

Two first half goals by midfielder Fintan Conway secured the points for the home team at Ballycran on Sunday.

The visitors made the early running against a stiff wind and points from Moylagh's Willie McGrath in the 3rd and 7th minutes but disaster struck in the 9th minute when the Meath denfence failed to clear effectively and Conway forced the sliotar home from close range to give the Mourne men a scarcely deserved lead in the 9th minute.

In the 10th minute a free by Jack Regan levelled matters however in the 13th minute Conway struck again for a goal to leave the scoreboard reading Down 2-0 Meath 0-3. Ciaran Fitzsimons pointed on 18 minutes and this was cancelled out 2 minutes later as wing forward Danny Toner scored Down's first point. Further Down points followed from Sean Ennis and Donal Hughes before Meath introduced Stephen Clynch foe Jack Regan in the 26th minute and the response was immediate as the evergreen Clynch pointed a free from distance and also scored from play in the 28th and 29th minutes to leave three points between the teams but Sean Ennis and Conor Woods from a free left Down ahead by 2-5 to 0-6 at the interval.

The scoring rate dropped considerably in the second half and it took Meath 7 minutes to get off the mark as Stephen Clynch pointed a free and when Derek Doran sent over a point in the 44th minute the gap was now a manageable three points but try as they could Meath could not get through for a goal that they badly needed and Down raised the siege with a point by Sean Ennis in the 47th minute but replied a minute later to keep matters tight and temperatures rose considerably as Adam Gannon had his helmet torn from his head but this serious infringement escaped the attention of Antrim referee Garrett Duffy. A Conor Woods pointed free eased the pressure on the hosts and Donal Hughes completed Down's total in the 56th minute. Willie McGrath pointed on 57 minutes, then Meath keeper saved brilliantly from close range on the hour mark and in the 62nd minute Meath created a clear overlap only for the referee to award a free just outside the 20 meter line and with Stephen Clynch standing over the ball the visitors were hoping for a repeat of last year's game in Newry when the same player goaled at the end to claim victory but on this occasion his effort was saved but there was some consolation as Ciaran Fitzsimons pointed from the resultant clearance. This was to prove to be the final score of a close tense match where space was always at a premium on a heavy tight pitch.

Down: Stephen Keith; Matt Conlon, Paudrig Flynn, Michael Hughes; Brett Nicholson, Conor Woods (0-2fs), Paddy Hughes, Fintan Conway (2-1), Sean Ennis (0-2); Danny Toner (0-1), Conor O'Neill, Donal Hughes (0-2); Caolan Bailie, Johnny McClusker, Scott Nicholson. Subs: Michael Turley for S Nicholson, Conor O'Prey for D Toner both 54 mins and Paul Sheehan for C O'Neill 64 mins.

Meath: Charlie Bird; David Donoghue, Shane Brennan, Sean Heavey; Shane Whitty, James Toher, Peter Farrell; Michael Burke (0-1), Stephen Morris; Damien Healy, Jack Regan (0-1f), Ciaran Fitzsimons (0-2); Willie McGrath (0-3), Derek Doran (0-1), Adam Gannon. Subs: Stephen Clynch (0-3, 2f) for J Regan 26 mins, Gary Kelly for M Burke 57 mins and Sean Geraghty for D Healy 67 mins.

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