Meath 0-14 Mayo 2-17
Reporting by Michael Corry in Croke Park
Meath put up a great showing in Croke Park this afternoon but it was Mayo who pulled away in the closing stages to keep their All-Ireland semi-final hopes alive.
Andy McEntee’s side were arguably the better team for most of the game but were left to rue a missed goal opportunity in the first half as Mayo put two in the net in the closing stages of the match.
Here are our conclusions following a highly competitive encounter.
Tentative First Half
A tetchy first half were each team struggled to gain a dominant foothold, it took six minutes before either side registered a score. Meath were perhaps the better side for large portions of the opening 35 minutes, however, Mayo edged in front close to half-time before back-to-back scores from Cillian O’Sullivan and corner-back, Séamus Lavin levelled things up 0-7 to 0-7 at half-time.
Conor McGill & Meath’s Defence
The Meath full-back, yet again, was in excellent form in Croke Park. HQ really seems to bring out the best in the Ratoath man as he claimed four dispossessions in the first half alone including one from Jason Doherty that denied Mayo their only real sniff at a goal in the first half. McGill expertly marshalled the Meath defence and he is most certainly in the running to be this year’s All-Star full-back.
Séamus Lavin was also excellent for Meath turning over possession as well as getting forward in the first half to kick a great score and bombing forward in the second to win a free that nudged Meath two points in front. Lavin again broke free to score in the 53rd minute setting up a grandstand point for point finish.
Shane Gallagher also deserves a mention as Meath’s full-back line was immense from start to finish.
David Clarke Save
The Ballina netminder gave evidence yet again to suggest that he’s the best shot-stopper in the country following a one-on-one save from Donal Keogan. The Meath half-back did hit it straight at Clarke but he still had to save it. Newman could have rattled the net with the follow-up but it sailed over the bar, a real let-off for Mayo.
It must be said, Keogan’s run to create the goal opportunity for himself was sublime and had his finish been on point it would have been up there for goal of the season. Keogan again was excellent for Meath and another man who will be in with a shout for an All-Star.
In attack, Fionn McDonagh settled the Mayo nerves with back-to-back scores midway through the first half, however, the Westport man followed it up with a couple of bad wides.
Kevin McLoughlin came in as a late replacement and was very much a bright spark for Mayo throughout the opening half kicking a good score and getting on a tonne of ball. Darren Coen also got on a lot of ball but more often than not, was unable to create clear cut scoring chances for himself.
Cillian O’Connor was strangely subdued in the first half having been one of their bright sparks in last week’s poor showing against Kerry. However, the Ballintubber sharpshooter seemed to find a bit of momentum in the second half, kicking three-in-a-row including one from play to level the match heading into the final quarter.
Meath’s Lack Of Experience
The Royals showed plenty today and last week to suggest that they can compete at this level, however, Mayo were there for the taking today. Meath missed three chances in a row heading into the final ten minutes and were royally punished by Mayo who converted 1-3 from four opportunities to effectively kill the game off.
Meath probably feel hard done by as Mayo were awarded two or three questionable frees on top off Colm Boyle and Fergal Boland kicking scores following a huge amount of steps.
In the end, goals from Kevin McLoughlin and Cillian O’Connor (rebound off a missed penalty) put a bit of gloss on the scoreline for Mayo.
This was an extremely bruising game of football with both sides throwing their bodies on the line to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
David Clarke; Stephen Coen, Brendan Harrison, Chris Barrett; Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Kevin McLoughlin; Donal Vaughan, Séamus O’Shea; Fionn McDonagh, Aidan O’Shea (c), Fergal Boland; Cillian O’Connor, Darren Coen, Jason Doherty.
Cillian O’Connor 1-5, Kevin McLoughlin 1-1, Fergal Boland 0-2, Fionn McDonagh 0-2, Jason Doherty 0-2, Colm Boyle 0-1, Lee Keegan 0-1, Darren Coen 0-1, Andy Moran 0-1, James Carr 0-1.
Andy Moran for Darren Coen, James Carr for Fergal Boland, Eoin O’Donoghue for Stephen Coen, Michael Plunkett for Lee Keegan, Kevin McLoughlin for Ciarán Treacy
Andrew Colgan; Séamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Shane Gallagher; Donal Keogan(jc), Pádraic Harnan, Gavin McCoy; Bryan Menton (jc), Shane McEntee, Ethan Devine, Bryan McMahon, James McEntee; Cillian O’Sullivan, Michael Newman, James Conlon.
Shane Walsh 0-5, Michael Newman 0-2, Séamus Lavin 0-2, Bryan Menton 0-1, Ethan Devine 0-1, James McEntee 0-1, Cillian O’Sullivan 0-1, James Conlon 0-1.
Shane Walsh for Michael Newman, Seán Tobin for Ethan Devine, Thomas McGovern for Séamus Lavin, Thomas O’Reilly for Bryan McMahon, Marcus Brennan for Andrew Colgan (bc)