Michael Corry reporting live from Croke Park.
It was a case of goals win games this afternoon in Croke Park as Meath powered past Laois and into this year’s Leinster SFC Final.
Two goals either side of half-time from Bryan Menton alongside a Michael Newman penalty gave Meath the platform for their 11-point victory.
However, late replacement, James Conlon, was the game’s standout player with 0-5 from play on a day where Laois just couldn’t contain the livewire corner-forward.
Here are our conclusion following Meath’s victory over Laois.
Laois Struggled To Convert In Opening Quarter
John Sugrue’s side had the better of the opening exchanges, however, it took them 15 minutes to register their first point through an Evan O’Carroll free. In that period they hit four wides and dropped one short. Laois would ultimately finish the first half with six wides compared to Meath’s three.
James Conlon Meath’s Bright Spark
The Naomh Colmcille man was brought in as a late replacement for Thomas O’Reilly and it proved to be an inspired decision by Andy McEntee.
Conlon ran Laois’ defence ragged kicking 0-4 in the opening half with Laois captain, Stephen Attride, ultimately taken off him. Conlon would finish the game with 0-5 from play.
Colm Murphy Is A Nuisance
Laois eventually got to grips midway through the half and were able to keep within touching distance of Meath. Full-forward, Colm Murphy was their go-to man and repeatedly caused problems for Meath kicking 0-2 from play in the first half.
He rattled the crossbar in the 40th minute in what was a real let-off for Meath when Laois looked to be building some momentum.
Conor McGill A Fine Full-Back
The Meath full-back seemed to be the first to every breaking ball that came his way and ignited some life into the crowd on a few occasions when he broke out of defence.
However, his influence on the game waned once big Donie Kingston entered the fray.
The Donie Kingston Effect
The veteran big man was sprung from the bench after 30 minutes for Evan O’Carroll and immediately sparked a bit of life into his Laois teammates kicking a great point from play.
Kingston looked like Laois’ most dangerous player since the moment he entered the field kicking scores from both play and placed balls as well as forcing a good save out of Andrew Colgan.
Meath Started The Second Half Like Laois Began The First
Just as like Laois at the beginning of the game, it took Meath 15 minutes to register their first score of the second half which allowed John Sugrue’s men to cut into their lead.
However, once Meath got going they hit another purple patch with Cillian O’Sullivan hitting two beautiful scores back-to-back followed by Bryan McMahon and James Conlon’s fifth of the day.
Goals Win Games
Laois kept within touching distance on Meath but the difference on the day proved to be the goals from Bryan Menton and a Michael Newman penalty. Newman had a quiet enough game himself but the mark of a real player is being able to convert those chances and he gave Graham Brody no chance from the spot.
Meath A Step Above Laois
Every time Laois seemed to score and gain a bit of momentum it seemed as though Meath would hit right back with a score of their own. On the day this was a promoted Division 3 side against a promoted Division 2 side and it played out that way.
A Menton V Fenton Final?
Bryan Menton was a colossus at midfield for Meath all day and kicked two cracking goals past Graham Brody.
The Meath joint-captain has been one of their best performers all year. It will be interesting to see how he fares out against the top teams later in the year.
Meath XV: Andrew Colgan; Séamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Shane Gallagher; James McEntee, Donal Keogan (jc), Gavin McCoy; Bryan Menton (jc), Adam Flanagan; Cillian O’Sullivan, Bryan McMahon, Ben Brennan; Ronan Ryan, Michael Newman, James Conlon.
Substitutes: Graham Reilly for Gavin McCoy, Shane McEntee for Adam Flanagan, Séan Tobin for Ben Brennan, Thomas O’Reilly for Michael Newman, Thomas McGovern for Shane Gallagher, Ethan Devine for Bryan Menton
Laois XV: Graham Brody, Stephen Attride (c), Denis Booth, Gareth Dillon; Sean O’Flynn, Robert Pigott, Patrick O’Sullivan; John O’Loughlin, Kieran Lillis; Daniel O’Reilly, Conor Boyle, Damien O’Connor; Paul Kingston, Colm Murphy, Evan O’Carroll.
Substitutes: Donal Kingston for Evan O’Carroll, Martin Scully for Conor Boyle, Trevor Collins for Sean O’Flynn, Eoin Lowry for Daniel O’Reilly, Ross Munnelly for Damien O’Connor, Brendan Quigley for Kieran Lillis