Allianz Football League Division Rd 6
MEATH 1-12 CLARE 1-7
By Paraic McMahon at Cusack Park
Meath’s bid to secure a return to the top tier of the Allianz Football League remains on course following their five point win over Clare.
In the clash of two teams at opposite ends of the Division 2 table, Meath came out on top thanks largely to a second half slump from their opponents, like any capable side this dip was duly punished. Originally scheduled to take place on Saturday afternoon due to an unplayable pitch, Cusack Park held up very well for the refixture which had an attendance of 1,421.
A bright start from Meath saw them convert four scores in the opening five minutes with Ethan Devine, Darragh Campion, Thomas O’Reilly and Cillian O’Sullivan all on target. 20 year old Gavin Cooney got Clare off the mark on the seventh minute with Eoin Cleary following not long after as they put a stop to the visitors’ momentum.
Kieran Malone failed to convert a glorious goal chance on the twelfth minute which would have put Colm Collins’ charges in the driving seat, instead they had to rely on Cleary and David Tubridy to keep their account ticking over as they reduced the lead to a single point as O’Sullivan added another for the Royals.
Clare took the lead for the first and only time in the game on twenty nine minutes. A superbly worked team move was expertly finished by Sean O’Donoghue whose first half fielding display was rather eye catching and is sure to be acknowledged come championship time. Late scores from Michael Newman and Barry Dardis was enough to regain a one point half-time lead for the visitors.
With a strong breeze in their favour, Clare needed to use it to their advantage on the restart to cause an upset but that they never did. Unable to score from play in thirty five minutes would tell its own story coupled with uncharacteristic mistakes such as overcooked passes and picking the ball off the ground.
No complaints could be heard in this regard from Andy McEntee’s men as they kept to the task in hand. They themselves did not provide too many scores from play in the second half but crucially Graham Reilly palmed to the net on fifty one minutes when a Keelan Sexton pass was intercepted by Newman and a Dardis pass was finished to the net by the St Colmcille attacker. This would take the wind out of Clare’s sails and help the Meath faithful raise their voice as the job was done, all that needed doing was to complete it which they did.
Cillian O’Sullivan with three points from play was the star man for Meath who also had strong displays from Donal Keogan and Thomas O’Reilly. While Clare’s best included Kevin Harnett and Sean O’Donoghue.
Pairc Tailteann plays host to the meeting of Meath and Fermanagh next weekend with both sides searching for points to secure promotion. A similarly tense battle is expected at Semple Stadium when both Clare and Tipperary go toe to toe with survival on the line.
Scorers for Meath: Michael Newman 0-4 (4fs), Cillian O’Sullivan 0-3, Graham Reilly 1-0, Thomas O’Reilly 0-2, Ethan Devine, Darragh Campion, and Barry Dardis 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: Eoin Cleary 0-5 (5fs), Sean O’Donoghue 1-0, Gavin Cooney and David Tubridy (f) 0-1 each.
MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Shane Gallagher; Gavin McCoy, Donal Keogan, Ronan Ryan; Bryan Menton, Shane McEntee; Cillian O’Sullivan, Ethan Devine, Bryan McMahon; Darragh Campion, Michael Newman, Thomas O’Reilly.
Subs: Barry Dardis for McEntee (9) (Inj), Adam Flanagan for Devine (HT), Graham Reilly for Campion (47), Padraic Harnan for McMahon (66), Eoin Lynch for O’Sullivan (72).
CLARE: Eamonn Tubridy; Kevin Harnett, Cillian Brennan, Gordon Kelly; Cian O’Dea, Aaron Fitzgerald, Dean Ryan; Gary Brennan, Cathal O’Connor; Kieran Malone, Eoin Cleary, Jamie Malone; Kieran Malone, David Tubridy, Gavin Cooney.
Subs: Keelan Sexton for K Malone (47), Sean Collins for Ryan (61), Eimhin Courtney for Tubridy (66).
REFEREE: Barry Tiernan (Dublin)