Allianz FL D2: Meath finish strong against Tipp
Allianz National Football League Division 2, Round 1
MEATH 0-15 TIPPERARY 1-8
By Paul Keane at Pairc Tailteann, Navan
Hosts Meath saved their best until late on in Navan with a burst of scoring to finally shrug off a determined Tipperary in Division 1B of the Allianz NFL.
Andy McEntee's Meath led by four points in the first-half and by that same margin again in the third quarter but were pegged back to level terms on both occasions.
It made for an intriguing finale and Meath edged it by outscoring the Munster men 0-5 to 0-1 in the closing 15 minutes or so.
Substitutes Cillian O'Sullivan and Graham Reilly had a strong influence with O'Sullivan playing a direct role in four of their points and ex-captain Reilly picking off a neat score.
Reilly began that last burst of scoring before James McEntee split the posts and top scorer Mickey Newman and O'Sullivan added the other points.
Tipperary finished with 13 men following a 66th minute red card for midfielder Steven O'Brien while substitute Josh Keane was black carded in injury-time.
Meath and Tipp were both locked on seven points in last year's campaign, a point above the relegation spots.
They saw this as a great opportunity to secure an early win this term though visiting Tipp struggled to find a rhythm at first.
They were without 2017 All-Star forward Michael Quinlivan as well as 2018 captain Robbie Kiely and Bill Maher.
The hosts pressed up on Tipperary's kick-outs with plenty of success and were also aided initially by a strong breeze.
Newman, who sat out 2018 to recover from long-term injury problems, put Meath 0-02 to 0-01 ahead with two converted frees.
Shane McEntee, a late addition to the Meath midfield in place of Adam Flanagan, and Thomas O'Reilly were also on the mark as the Royals surged 0-05 to 0-01 clear.
Liam Boland fisted over Tipp's first point from play in the 26th minute but another Newman score left Meath 0-06 to 0-02 clear.
Tipp badly needed something to happen and conjured a goal out of nothing three minutes before the break.
It came from the penalty spot and the boot of Conor Sweeney whose earlier free had rebounded off the post to Dan O'Meara who was fouled.
Newman hit his fifth of the half in injury-time but Meath, who played into the wind after the break, wondered if their 0-07 to 1-02 interval lead was enough.
They took the elements in their stride at first, outscoring Tipp by 0-3 to 0-1 in the first 10 minutes of the second-half.
Yet just as Meath looked set to impose their authority on the game they were hit by another Tipp surge.
This time the Munster outfit reeled off four points in a row with three of those from free-taker Sweeney.
That tied the scores up at 1-7 to 0-10 and left it anyone's game with 15 minutes to go.
Meath's strong finish will please boss McEntee who will head north with his team to Donegal next weekend for arguably their toughest test in the division.
Scorers for Meath: Mickey Newman 0-7 (0-6f), Thomas O'Reilly 0-2, Graham Reilly 0-1, Cillian O'Sullivan 0-1 (0-1f), Shane McEntee 0-1, Ben Brennan 0-1, Bryan Menton 0-1, Jams McEntee 0-1.
Scorers for Tipperary: Conor Sweeney 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-3f), Liam McGrath 0-3 (0-2f), Liam Boland 0-1, Brian Fox 0-1.
MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Ronan Ryan, Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill; James McEntee, Donal Keogan, Niall Kane; Bryan Menton, Shane McEntee; Ethan Devine, Ben Brennan, Mickey Burke; Darragh Campion, Mickey Newman, Thomas O'Reilly. Subs: Cillian O'Sullivan for Burke (h/t), Sean Tobin for Devine (48), Graham Reilly for Campion (55), Bryan McMahon for Brennan (58), Eoin Lynch for O'Reilly (74).
TIPPERARY: Evan Comerford; Alan Campbell, John Meagher, Emmett Moloney; Brian Fox, Daire Brennan, Jimmy Feehan; Steven O'Brien, Liam Casey; Kevin Fahey, Liam McGrath, Liam Boland; Dan O'Meara, Conor Sweeney, Jack Kennedy. Subs: Philip Austin for O'Meara (46), Josh Keane for Boland (55), Colm O'Shaughnessy for Feehan (64), Kevin O'Halloran for Kennedy (70).
Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh).