SFC Qualifier: Derry comeback stuns Meath
Round 2A All-Ireland SFC Qualifier
DERRY 1-14 MEATH 1-11
Orla Bannon at Owenbeg
Mick O'Dowd resigned as Meath manager after his team lost to a late Derry goal in Saturday's Round 2A All-Ireland SFC qualifier.
A 68th minute goal by substitute Niall Loughlin snatched victory for the Oak Leafers at Owenbeg, who trailed for the entire game until Loughlin's composed late strike.
Afterwards O'Dowd ended his four-year reign as Meath boss after watching his team score just 0-3 after the break and fall to another second-half collapse which has been a familiar hallmark of their games in recent seasons.
The Royals led by 1-8 to 0-4 at half time, but should have been out of sight, such was their dominance.
They were left to regret those missed opportunities when Derry came storming back after a dreadful first half.
Damian Barton's transformed side kicked six points in the nine minutes after the restart before Mickey Burke stopped the rot with a 45th minute point. Meath kept their noses in front until Loughlin's composed finish.
James Kielt's attempt for a point dropped short and Loughlin's superb dummy took the goalkeeper and his marker out of the game, allowing him to roll the ball into an empty net.
Meath, who lost by 10 points to Dublin in the Leinster semi-final two weeks ago, started brightly and raced into a four-point lead after just seven minutes.
Derry won the toss and gave Meath the chance to make the most of a strong wind in the first half, and the visitors cashed in with Padraic Harnan opening the scoring in the third minute. Graham Reilly's pace and runs through the middle caused problems for a static Derry defence and he kicked two points from play before Mickey Newman's free put Meath four up.
Mark Lynch's well judged point into a difficult breeze finally got Derry on the scoreboard after 16 minutes but it was a very poor first half display by the home team. Donal Lenihan, one of three late changes to the Meath starting team, missed a great goal chance. He collected Cillian O'Sullivan's diagonal ball but his low shot across goal flew narrowly wide of the far post.
Lynch scored again from play and a free to keep Derry in touch but Newman's goal in the 26th minute put clear daylight between the teams. Reilly punched another hole in Derry's defence and passed out to Donnacha Tobin who fired a low shot into a crowded square. Newman got on the end of it and tapped the ball in from close range to put Mick O'Dowd's side 1-7 to 0-3 clear.
Gareth McKinless' superb block on Newman's shot prevented Meath extending their lead and a superb James Kielt point left Derry 1-8 to 0-4 adrift at the break. Mark Lynch, Christopher Bradley, Eoghan Brown and Kielt (free) scored four points in as many minutes straight after the interval.
Lynch and Kielt tagged on more scores as Derry pushed up and ran at Meath. Chrissy McKaigue kicked a curling score from the wing and Derry kept the pressure on, despite Brendan Rogers' black card on the hour mark.
Meath surprisingly replaced freetaker Newman, who wasn't injured, and Donal Lenihan then missed a crucial free when Meath were two points ahead.
The Royals had to take off fullback Donal Keogan with concussion after 64 minutes – and four minutes later Derry pounced for the late goal which booked their place in Monday's draw for Round 3A of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers.
*Scorers for Derry – *M Lynch 0-6 (2f), J Kielt 0-4 (3f), N Loughlin (1-0), C McKaigue, E Lynn, C Bradley, E Brown 0-1 each
Scorers for Meath – M Newman 1-4 (3f), G Reilly 0-2, C O'Sullivan 0-2 (2f), M Burke, P Harnan 0-1 each, A Tormey 0-1 (f)
DERRY: T Mallon; G McKinless, C McKaigue, K McKaigue; C McFaul, B Rogers, C Mullan; C McAtamney, N Holly; D Heavron, C Bradley, E Brown; J Kielt, E McGuckin, M Lynch
Subs: N Toner for McGuckin (28), N Loughlin (1-0) for Brown (46), E Bradley for Holly (46), E Lynn (0-1) for C Bradley (53), N Forrester for Rogers (BC, 62), L McGoldrick for Mullan (63)
MEATH: P O'Rourke; S Lavin, D Keogan, M Burke; D Tobin, D Smyth, A Douglas; P Harnan, H Rooney; C O'Brien, G Reilly, C O'Sullivan; B McMahon, D Lenihan, M Newman
Subs: E Wallace for McMahon (42), D McDonagh for Newman (52), A Tormey (0-1, f) for Lenihan (60), S Tobin for Keogan (63)
*REFEREE: *Paddy Neilan (Roscommon