Allianz FL D2: Meath secure promotion
Allianz Football League Division Two
MEATH 2-12 FERMANAGH 0-11
By Paul Keane at Pairc Tailteann, Navan
James McEntee and Barry Dardis fired the vital goals as Meath claimed victory in Navan and in the process secured their place in Division 1 of the Allianz football league for 2020.
The Royal County haven't competed in the top flight since 2006 when they were relegated from the old 1B group.
They could afford to lose to Fermaagh and still go up and while they endured a shaky start they quickly found their groove and turned in a powerful performance to record their sixth victory of the campaign.
Man of the Match McEntee helped himself to 1-1, the same tally as Dardis while Cillian O'Sullivan and Mickey Newman impressed up front for the hosts.
The seven-point win secures Meath a Division 2 final clash at Croke Park next weekend against Donegal and supporters are already looking forward to the Championship with optimism.
Meath came into the game knowing they could lose by anything up to nine points and still progress to Division 1.
That safety net perhaps explained their early lethargy as Fermanagh, with a stiff wind behind them, struck four points in the first four minutes.
In fact, the Ernesiders could have wiped out that nine-point cushion in the opening 10 minutes when they'd registered five wides along with those four points.
Fermanagh, last in Division 1 in 2007 and also in the promotion picture at the beginning of the afternoon, racked up 11 wides in total in the first-half and will kick themselves for not capitalising on the wind advantage.
Meath went in at the break leading 1-4 to 0-6 when the visitors really should have been ahead.
Meath only scored one point in the opening 23 minutes, a 16th minute effort from O'Sullivan.
But the hosts, roared on by a large and vocal home support, finished the half strong with Dardis netting in the 29th minute.
It was his third goal in four games having previously raised green flags as a sub against Cork and Kildare.
O'Sullivan and Newman added points before the interval to leave Meath in pole position and looking forward to playing with the strong wind in the second-half.
It was a tough task for Fermanagh who briefly tied up the game after the restart before falling well behind as Meath registered 1-4 without reply to take firm control of the game.
McEntee grabbed his goal in the 47th minute after great work in the buildup by Bryan McMahon who made space for himself with a clever burst of pace.
It put Meath 2-8 to 0-7 clear and they closed out the game professionally with points from O'Sullivan, Newman and sub James Conlon to ensure there were never any nervous moments late on.
Scorers for Meath: Barry Dardis 1-1, James McEntee 1-1, Cillian O'Sullivan 0-4 (1f), Mickey Newman 0-3 (0-1f), Ben Brennan 0-1 (0-1f), Bryan Menton 0-1, James Conlon 0-1.
Scorers for Fermanagh: Ryan Jones 0-3, Ciaran Corrigan 0-2, Sean Quigley 0-2 (1f), Conall Jones 0-2, Ultan Kelm 0-1, Darragh McGurn 0-1 (f).
MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Shane Gallagher; James McEntee, Donal Keogan, Ronan Ryan; Bryan Menton, Shane McEntee; Cillian O'Sullivan, Bryan McMahon, Ben Brennan; Thomas O'Reilly, Barry Dardis, Mickey Newman.
Subs: Graham Reilly for Brennan (h/t), Darragh Campion for McMahon (56), Adam Flanagan for Shane McEntee (62), Gavin McCoy for Gallagher (64), James Conlon for O'Reilly (65).
FERMANAGH: James McGrath; Lee Cullen, Kane Connor, Jonny Cassidy; Che Cullen, James McMahon, Ryan Lyons; Eoin Donnelly, Ryan Jones; Aidan Breen, Ultan Kelm, Ciaran Corrigan; Sean Quigley, Conall Jones, Declan McCusker.
Subs: Paul McCusker for Lyons (45), Daniel Teague for Kelm (49), Darragh McGurn for Conall Jones (56), Tom Clarke for Donnelly (58), Conor Magee for Quigley (58).
REFEREE: James Molloy (Galway).