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D2: Tyrone promoted after comfortable win in Navan

Colm Cavanagh

Colm Cavanagh


By Paul Keane at Páirc Tailteann

Ronan O'Neill's 1-4 haul proved decisive in Navan as Tyrone secured promotion back to the top flight after just a single season in Division II of the Allianz Football League.

As only one of Cavan or Galway can conceivably catch Tyrone on 10 points in Division II, the Red Hands are promoted with two rounds to spare.

Mickey Harte's side secured their fifth straight win in the division with a commanding display and also had experienced stars Sean Cavanagh and Peter Harte to thank for contributing six points between them.

The result leaves room for experimentation in their remaining two games but the stakes are much higher for Meath now heading into testing ties against Derry and Laois, both away games. Mickey Newman top scored overall with 1-7 for Meath though yet another defeat in the campaign leaves them staring Division III football in the face.

Meath knew they were playing for their lives in the division after a draw and two dispiriting defeats since beating Armagh in the opening round. In their last two games, they coughed up leads of nine points, against Galway, and eight, against Cavan, to slip to a draw and a defeat respectively.

The positive they clung to was that they finished strongly in Galway last weekend and they enjoyed a bright start here, netting inside four minutes.

Newman scored it and his accurate right footed finish to the top left corner was a fitting climax to a brilliant passing move that involved Alan Douglas, Cillian O'Sullivan and Harry Rooney.

But Tyrone were calm and composed and O'Neill's ninth minute goal steadied them and they settled into a familiar groove of defending in numbers and counter attacking at pace.

Meath had plenty of possession but couldn't break down Tyrone's defence and slipped 1-10 to 1-4 behind approaching half-time. Jonathan Monroe's point late in the half for Tyrone summed up their strategy as the Red Hands, with all 15 players in their own half, won possession and patiently passed their way forward before pointing.

In a first-half lasting 42 minutes, James McEntee and Cillian O'Sullivan scored two injury-time points for Meath to keep them in it at half-time, 1-10 to 1-6.

Meath had the gap down to just two points in the third quarter as they battled gamely. But Tyrone took a firm hold of proceedings in the final quarter and outscored Meath by 0-5 to 0-1 to win with plenty to spare.

Scorers for Meath: Mickey Newman 1-7 (6f, 0-1 45), Padraic Harnan 0-1, James McEntee 0-1, Cillian O'Sullivan 0-1, Andy Tormey 0-1

Scorers for Tyrone: Ronan O'Neill 1-4 (2f), Peter Harte 0-3 (3f), Sean Cavanagh 0-3 (2f), Jonathan Monroe 0-2, Mattie Donnelly 0-2, Richie Donnelly 0-1, Niall Sludden 0-1, Hugh Pat McGeary 0-1.

**MEATH: **Conor McHugh; Donal Keogan, Conor McGill, Mickey Burke; Donnacha Tobin, Brian Power, Alan Douglas; Harry Rooney, Padraic Harnan; James McEntee, Cillian O'Sullivan, Graham Reilly; Eamon Wallace, Mickey Newman, Donal Lenihan. **Subs: **Cathal Finn for Douglas (31), Ruairi O Coileain for Lenihan (h/t), Cian O'Brien for Tobin (45), Conor Downey for McEntee (60), Barry Tormay for Keogan (61 - f/t, blood), Bobby O'Brien for O'Sullivan (67), Andy Tormey for Reilly (69, BC).

TYRONE: Micheal O'Neill; Cathal McCarron, Ronan McNamee, Aidan McCrory; Jonathan Monroe, Niall Sludden, Tiernan McCann; Colm Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly; Richie Donnelly, Peter Harte, Conal McCann; Connor McAliskey, Sean Cavanagh, Ronan O'Neill. Subs: HP McGeary for McNamee (7), Mark Bradley for McAliskey (47), Conor Meyler for Sludden (50), Padraig McNulty for McCann (50), Kieran McGeary for R Donnelly (55), Rory Brennan for O'Neill (58).

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).