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Ben Brennan, Meath, and Thomas Clancy, Cork, collide at Pairc Ui Rinn.
Ben Brennan, Meath, and Thomas Clancy, Cork, collide at Pairc Ui Rinn.

Allianz FL D2: Meath defeat Cork

Allianz Football League Division Two

MEATH 2-12 CORK 1-9

By Denis Hurley at Pairc Ui Rinn

Meath made it three wins from four – and inflicted a third defeat on Cork – as a strong second-half display earned the Royals victory at Páirc Uí Rinn.

This meeting of top and bottom went the way of the form-guide, but at half-time the Rebels had a glimmer of hope, trailing by 0-6 to 0-5, having scored the last three points of the opening period.

Though Meath sub Graham Reilly opened the second-half scoring, Michael Hurley replied for Cork on 38 minutes, but Ronan McCarthy’s side endured 27 scoreless minutes from there and 1-4 from the visitors put them firmly in control.

Having been restored to their full complement following Bryan Menton’s return from a black card, Meath were four clear as Thomas O’Reilly, Michael Newman – his fourth – and the impressive Cillian O’Sullivan had points.

The lead was then extended with a brilliantly worked goal. Midfielder Shane McEntee set things in motion with a superb pass to Bryan McMahon and he fed O’Sullivan, who drove forward and handpassed across for wing-back Gavin McCoy, who did the needful to mark his first competitive start with a green flag.

When Menton scored his second point on 54, Andy McEntee’s team were eight in front and cruising. While Cork had brought on players like Mark Collins, Brian Hurley and Tomás Clancy in a bid to turn things around, it wasn’t until the 65th minute that they finally found a glimmer of hope, Collins’ handpass across allowing Seán Powter to net.

After Meath sub Barry Dardis’s point, two Collins frees brought Cork to within four, 1-12 to 1-8, but the Royals made things safe as Newman turned possession over and drove towards goal. While he could have gone for his own shot, he set up Dardis, who made no mistake after side-footing goalkeeper Micheál Martin.

That Meath weren’t ahead by more at half-time was partly down to luck – O’Sullivan hit the post with a long-range free – and partly down to wastefulness as McMahon fired into the side-netting for a goal chance after O’Sullivan set him up.

Cork had begun slowly and a 0-5 to 0-1 early deficit didn’t flatter Meath. As the half ended, Conor Dennehy and Luke Connolly (two) had scores to bring the Rebels closer and they would have hoped to push on in the second half, but it was Meath’s night.

Scorers for Meath: Michael Newman 0-4 (3fs), Barry Dardis 1-1, Gavin McCoy 1-0, Ben Brennan (0-1 free), B Menton 0-2 each, Graham Reilly, Cillian O’Sullivan, Thomas O’Reilly 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: Seán Powter 1-0, Michael Hurley, Luke Connolly (1f), Mark Collins (2fs) 0-2 each, Matthew Taylor, Ruairí Deane, Conor Dennehy 0-1 each.

MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Séamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Ronan Ryan; Gavin McCoy, Donal Keogan, Shane Gallagher; Bryan Menton, Shane McEntee; Cillian O’Sullivan, Darragh Campion, Ben Brennan; Bryan McMahon, Michael Newman, Thomas O’Reilly.

Subs: Graham Reilly for Brennan (32, injured), Ethan Devine for Campion (52), Barry Dardis for O’Sullivan (61), Niall Kane for McCoy (63), Adam Flanagan for McEntee (67).

CORK: Micheál Martin; Sam Ryan, Kevin Flahive, Conor Dennehy; Kevin Crowley, Thomas Clancy, Paul Walsh; Ian Maguire, Kilian O’Hanlon; Ronan O’Toole, Luke Connolly, Matthew Taylor; Paul Kerrigan, Ruairí Deane, Michael Hurley.

Subs: Mark Collins for Connolly (44), Brian Hurley for Walsh (46), Tomás Clancy for Crowley (51), Seán Powter for Michael Hurley (53), Eoghan McSweeney for O’Toole (61).

REFEREE: Fergal Kiely (Longford).

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