Ul­ti­mate test for Meath in cup de­fence

Drogheda Independent - - SPORT - SEAN WALL

HOLD­ERS Meath safely ne­go­ti­ated their pas­sage to the last four of the O’Byrne Cup in this win­ner­take-all clash at St Pa­trick’s Park, En­nis­cor­thy, on Satur­day.

The prize for the Roy­als is a semi-fi­nal meet­ing with All-Ire­land cham­pi­ons Dublin in Par­nell Park and that tie - the sec­ond be­tween them in a mat­ter of weeks - will be a fur­ther step up in class as the Roy­als con­tinue prepa­ra­tions for their open­ing-round NFL Di­vi­sion 2 clash with Tip­per­ary on the last Sun­day of the month.

Wex­ford had won their open­ing two games of the pre-sea­son tour­na­ment but never looked con­vinc­ing enough to make it a hat-trick of vic­to­ries against the much live­lier vis­i­tors who were on the front foot for most of the 70 min­utes.

The hosts en­joyed an abun­dance of pos­ses­sion around the mid­field area, but their at­tack failed to make suf­fi­cient in­roads against a solid Meath rear­guard.

Donal Keogan, Niall Kane and Sea­mus Lavin all ex­celled in de­fence, with Si­mon­stown’s Kane par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive and also ac­count­ing for his side’s open­ing two points.

Meath were also much sharper in at­tack through­out, with all of their scores apart from two points com­ing from open play. Their goal came cour­tesy of sub­sti­tute Sean Tobin with a lit­tle over 15 min­utes re­main­ing, leav­ing them in front by 1-15 to 0-9 and out of sight.

James McEn­tee, Niall Hickey and Gavin McCoy were all in­volved be­fore Tobin ri­fled to the roof of the net.

The Roy­als did cre­ate three other goal op­por­tu­ni­ties but were un­able to take any of them. Mickey New­man was de­nied by a fine save from Wex­ford keeper Matt Doyle on nine min­utes, but Ben Bren­nan and Tobin failed to hit the tar­get when pre­sented with op­por­tu­ni­ties to add to Meath’s tally.

Andy McEn­tee’s side were never headed at any stage, although Wex­ford thought they had snatched the lead when John Tubritt pro­duced a great fin­ish to the net on 26 min­utes, but the ef­fort was dis­al­lowed for a fourth hand-pass in the build-up.

Meath led 0-4 to 0-3 at the time and while Wex­ford were level at 0-5 apiece it was the vis­i­tors who fin­ished the half with a flour­ish to be in front 0-9 to 0-5 at the break.

Mickey New­man (two), Adam Flana­gan and Dar­ragh Cam­pion

Meath Wex­ford 1-20 1-13

hit the last four scores of that open­ing half.

The lead stretched out to six in the early stages of the sec­ond pe­riod fol­low­ing fur­ther scores from the im­pres­sive Thomas O’Reilly, Cam­pion and New­man as Wex­ford tal­lied four wides be­fore sub Cathal Dev­ereux had them off the mark.

Dev­ereux im­proved mat­ters for Wex­ford in at­tack, but it was the Meath men who con­tin­ued to hold the up­per­hand. Gra­ham Reilly, New­man and O’Reilly added to the Meath tally as they led 0-15 to 0-9 with 15 min­utes re­main­ing.

Tobin’s goal put the game out of reach of the home side and the Si­mon­stown man had an even bet­ter chance of a sec­ond goal when straight through, but he failed to hit the tar­get.

John Tubritt and Eoghan Nolan for the home side and O’Reilly and Mickey Burke ex­changed points be­fore scores from Bryan Men­ton and Dev­ereux left it 1-18 to 0-12 on 65 min­utes.

Alan Nolan went close to find­ing the net for Wex­ford be­fore Donal Shan­ley even­tu­ally grabbed a con­so­la­tion goal af­ter in­ter­cept­ing a Barry Dardis short kick­out and then chip­ping the stranded keeper.

Meath, how­ever, fin­ished the the last two points of the game from James McEn­tee and a Tobin free. MEATH: WEX­FORD: REF:

Meath goal­keeper Barry Dardis play­ing his first-ever match as a goal­keeper at St Pa­trick’s Park.

St Colm­cille’s club­man Ben Bren­nan drives f

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