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Donal Lenihan netted an early penalty for Meath against Down.

Donal Lenihan netted an early penalty for Meath against Down.

Allianz FL D2: Meath triumph in Navan

Allianz Football League Division Two

*MEATH 4-14 DOWN 1-14 *

By Conall Collier at Pairc Tailteann

Meath delivered a winning performance that keeps their NFL Div 2 survival prospects intact with a hard-earned victory over Down today in Navan.

Down missed a goal chance after 10 seconds when Connaire Harrison's effort was blocked by Andy Colgan and Meath countered instantly and won a penalty when Donal Lenihan was impeded.

Lenihan duly converted the resultant penalty and Meath's survival prospects were further boosted when Graham Reilly finished to the Down net in the third minute after Cillian O'Sullivan made the opening.

Meath continued in the ascendancy with Lenihan pointing a seventh minute free and it was the 11th minute before Down got off the mark through a well-struck Donal O'Hare pointed free.

O'Sullivan opened Meath's point account from play in the 13th minute and that gave the Royals a merited 2-2 to 0-1 first-quarter advantage.

Down got to grips with Meath for the remainder of the half and enjoyed a brief period of dominance with O'Hare adding three more pointed freesthat were augmented by Kevin McKernan, Harrison, Darren O'Hagan and a superb effort from wing-back Caolan Mooney.

Meath managed points from Ben Brennan, Bryan Menton and O'Sullivan, but after Down's McKernan collected a black card in the 34th minute, the hosts finished the half with a flourish and added points from Padraig McKeever and Lenihan ('45) for a 2-7 to 0-8 interval advantage.

The sides went point-for-point in the third-quarter with Reilly, Paddy Kennelly and Lenihan sending over for Meath and Down countering from O'Hare (free), Mooney and Harrison as Meath maintained that five-point advantage with a 2-10 to 0-11 margin.

The game exploded into a final quarter goal-fest as Down gave it their best shot, but it wasn;t good enough as Meath found the net through Simonstown duo Padraig McKeever and Sean Tobin with Anthony Doherty replying for the Ulster men.

Meath's closing points arrived from another brace of Lenihan frees and one each by O'Sullivan and Reilly while Down mustered efforts from Darragh O'Hanlon (two) and Doherty.

*Scorers for Meath: *Donal Lenihan 1-5 (1-0 pen, 3fs, 1'45); Graham Reilly 1-2, Padraig McKeever 1-1, Sean Tobin 1-0, Cillian O'Sullivan 0-3, Ben Brennan 0-1, Bryan Menton 0-1,  Paddy Kennelly 0-1.

*Scorers for Down: *Donal O'Hare 0-5 (5fs), Anthony Doherty 1-1, Connaire Harrison 0-2, Darragh O'Hanlon 0-2 (2fs), Kevin McKernan 0-1, Darren O'Hagan 0-1, Caolan Mooney 0-1, Ryan McAleenan 0-1.

MEATH: Andy Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Brian Power; James McEntee, Donal Keogan, Shane McEntee; Bryan Menton, Adam Flanagan; Eamon Wallace, Ben Brennan, Graham Reilly; Cillian O'Sullivan, Padraig McKeever, Donal Lenihan.

Subs: Paddy Kennelly for A Flanagan (HT), Joey Wallace for B Brennan (51), Sean Tobin for E Wallace (59), Bryan McMahon for McKeever (67), Thomas O'Reilly for G Reilly (70+5).

DOWN: Marc Reid; Colm Flanagan, Brendan McArdle, Anthony Doherty; Ruairi Wells, Niall McPartland, Caolan Mooney; Peter Turley, Niall Donnelly; Kevin McKernan, Conor Maginn, Darren O'Hagan; Connaire Harrison, Donal O'Hare, Ryan Johnston.

Subs: Aaron Morgan for K McKernan (BC 34), Sean Dornan for R Johnston (45), Darragh O'Hanlon for Flanagan (52), Shane Miller for Donnelly (52), David McKibbin for O'Hare (60). 

REFEREE: Barry Tiernan (Dublin).

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