Allianz FL D2: Meath win to survive
Allianz Football League Division Two
MEATH 1-12 LOUTH 0-7
By Dan Bannon at Gaelic Grounds
Division 2 of the Allianz Football League finally came to a close on Saturday in Drogheda. The rescheduled fixture between the two teams on the Boyne ended with a win for Meath, but neighbours Louth, unsurprisingly, didn’t make it easy for them.
With Louth’s Division 2 status reneged after only one season, they were in no mood to relieve their near neighbours Meath’s relegation woes.
Andy McEntee felt the pressure the most, after a stuttering league campaign however he can take solace that his team has found form at just the right time.
Donal Lenihan has been a shining light for Meath since he regained his place at the latter end of this current campaign. His brother Darragh made history recently becoming the first Meath man to represent his country for the national soccer team. The Dunboyne forward’s second half flurry of 1-3 gave the blunt Meath attack a match winning edge.
Pete McGrath knew that a win would give his native county Down safety, but his side never really looked like winning after the break and completed the barren spell of seven games without a springtime victory.
The game between two sides at the bottom of the table and so geographically close together began with a tense and subdued feel to it and it certainly rubbed off on the players.
Both sets of players lacking the required confidence to express themselves made for a low scoring first half, Louth going in a point up on the back of some resolute defending.
Emmet Carolan has been the silver lining on the cloudy run of form the home team has suffered this spring. The young Newtown Blues full back has shone in his debut season and is a beacon of hope they can build around in an effort to rebound in the coming seasons and indeed summer.
It was counter-attacking scores from Declan Byrne, Gerard McSorley and a brace of frees from Williams Woods that gave them that lead with lacklustre Meath going 24 minutes of not scoring with a James McEntee effort after Paddy Kennelly scored the matches opener. Louth leading 0-4 to 0-3 at half time.
The threat of relegation was the added motivation the Royals needed to lift themselves in the second half. Tactically, as well as emotionally, Andy McEntee’s charges were more direct from a methodically passive first half approach.
Shane McEntee got the first of five points to no reply in the third quarter for Meath followed by Joey Wallace, Lenihan, Ben Brennan, and Cillian O’Sullivan. This injection of authority tipped the balance of control to the Meath.
Graham Reilly and Thomas O’Reilly added to the Royals tally before Lenihan had the final say with a palmed goal that confirmed their place in Division 2 next year.
There is one thing these neighbours do have common, they can both now draw a line in a competition that was forgettable and look forward to another that they will hope will be memorable - the Leinster Championship.
Scorers for Meath: Donal Lenihan 1-3 (3f) Ben Brennan 0-2 (1f), Paddy Kennelly 0-1, James McEntee 0-1, Shane McEntee 0-1, Graham Reilly 0-1,Thomas O’Reilly 0-1, Cillian O’Sullivan 0-1 and Joey Wallace 0-1.
*Scorers for Louth: *William Woods 0-2 (2f) Tadhg McEnaney 0-2 (2f), Declan Byrne, Gerard McSorley, Tommy Durnin 0-1
*MEATH: *Andrew Colgan; Conor McGill, Brian Power, Mickey Burke; James McEntee, Donal Keogan; Shane McEntee; Bryan Menton,Paddy Kennelly; Eamon Wallace, Ben Brennan,; Graham Reilly; Cillian O’Sullivan, Séan Tobin, Donal Lenihan. Subs: Joey Wallace for E Wallace (9), Thomas O’Reilly for B Brennan (52), Bryan McMahon for S Tobin (68), Brian Conlon for (72).
LOUTH: Neil Gallagher;Andrew Smyth, Emmet Carolan, Fergal Donohoe; Derek Maguire, Bevan Duffy, Anthony Williams; Tommy Durnin, Declan Byrne; Ciaran Downey, Andy McDonnell, Gerard McSorley; Ross Nally, Conor Grimes, Williams Woods. Subs: Eimhin Keenan for A Williams BC (48), Tadhg McEnaney for W Woods (54), Aaron Khan for Andrew Smyth (64), Paul Matthews for Ciaran Downey (64).
*Referee: *Noel Mooney (Cavan)