All Ireland SFC: Mayo defeat Meath
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final Group Phase
MAYO 2-17 MEATH 0-14
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
Battle hardened Mayo drew on all their big game experience to pull themselves out of a tight spot at Croke Park and secure their first win in the All-Ireland quarter-final group stage.
Trailing a determined Meath side by a point entering the final quarter of the game, James Horan's men were in real danger of slipping to back to back defeats after losing to Kerry in Phase 1.
They refused to yield though and goals from Kevin McLoughlin and Cillian O'Connor hauled them to a hugely important win in the context of their All-Ireland title challenge.
They outscored Meath by 2-6 to 0-2 in total from the 54th minute as they turned the screw on the beaten Leinster finalists, dominating their kick-outs and picking off a series of crucial scores.
Aside from the 62nd and 76th minute goals, there were also scores from Man of the Match Colm Boyle, the excellent Lee Keegan, James Carr and Jason Doherty.
It leaves Mayo with a fighting chance of reaching the last four of the Championship ahead of their home game against Donegal next Saturday week.
As for Meath, they will close out their campaign with a home game against Kerry in Navan the same evening.
Just like Meath's Phase 1 game in Donegal, they led by a point with the winning line in sight but were unable to conjure the scores to secure the win.
But the Leinster finalists will take plenty from a breakthrough season that's yielded promotion to Division 1 of the Allianz league, a first Leinster final place in five years and qualification for the quarter-final group stage.
They were level with Mayo at half-time at 0-7 apiece and the sides were tied on seven occasions throughout the game.
Michael Newman scored two first-half points for Meath but went off injured just before half-time.
He was replaced by youngster Shane Walsh who took over the free-taking responsibilities and kicked five points in the second-half. Donal Keogan was superb again for Meath and had a goal attempt saved by Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke in the 16th minute.
O'Connor was influential for Mayo throughout the third quarter but with Walsh slotting a series of frees for Meath it remained neck and neck.
A point from the excellent Seamus Lavin nudged Meath 0-12 to 0-11 ahead but that was as good as it got for them as Mayo rallied and made sure of the win with a storming finale.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O'Connor 1-5 (4fs), Kevin McLoughlin 1-1, Fionn McDonagh 0-2, Fergal Boland 0-2, Jason Doherty 0-2, Andy Moran 0-1, Darren Coen 0-1, James Carr 0-1, Colm Boyle 0-1, Lee Keegan 0-1.
Scorers for Meath: Shane Walsh 0-5 (5fs), Michael Newman (1f) 0-2, Seamus Lavin 0-2, James Conlon 0-1, Bryan Menton 0-1, James McEntee 0-1, Ethan Devine 0-1, Cillian O'Sullivan 0-1.
MAYO: David Clarke; Chris Barrett, Brendan Harrison, Stephen Coen; Donal Vaughan, Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan; Aidan O'Shea, Seamus O'Shea; Fionn McDonagh, Kevin McLoughlin, Jason Doherty; Cillian O'Connor, Darren Coen, Fergal Boland.
Subs: Andy Moran for Coen (h/t), James Carr for Boland (48), Eoin O'Donoghue for Stephen Coen (56), James McCormack for Seamus O'Shea (63), Michael Plunkett for Keegan (74), Ciaran Treacy for McLoughlin (75).
MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Shane Gallagher, Conor McGill; Donal Keogan, Padraic Harnan, Gavin McCoy; Bryan Menton, Shane McEntee; James McEntee, Bryan McMahon, Ethan Devine; C O'Sullivan, Michael Newman, James Conlon.
Subs: Shane Walsh for Newman (35+2), Barry Dardis for McCoy (50), Sean Tobin for Devine (53), Thomas McGovern for Lavin (65), Thomas O'Reilly for McMahon (66), Marcus Brennan for Colgan (75, black card).
REFEREE: Ciaran Branagan (Down).