Meath Bow Out Of Championship

Meath Bow Out of Championship


All Ireland Senior Championship Qualifiers Round 1

Meath v Down
St. Loman’s Park, Mullingar
27th July 2008
Throw In: 6pm.

HALF TIME: Meath 0-06        v          Down 1-06
FULL TIME: Meath 0-13        v          Down 2-12

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Although the old saying ‘goals win games’ appears to be an old cliché, it certainly rang true at St. Loman’s Park in Mullingar on Sunday when Meath Ladies followed their male counterparts by exiting the All Ireland Championship at the first hurdle, the wrong side of a 2-12 to 0-13 final scoreline. Down got their goals either side of the break and always seemed to have one up on the Royals, despite a slight slump at the beginning of the second half when Meath got on top of the Mourne County girls. The disappointing result means Meath are now battling to avoid relegation to the Intermediate Championship for the 2009 season while Down march on to the second round of the qualifiers.

The conditions were perfect for the match, even if it was very warm, and there were early signs that Down meant business. On two minutes Julieanne Scanlon fouled Aileen Pyres and the corner forward put Down in front when her resulting free split the posts. A minute later Down doubled their advantage with a point from play from captain Michaela Downey. On the resumption Grainne Nulty won the kickout and found Elaine Duffy on the move and the St. Ultans player made no mistake with the finish, leaving just one point between the teams. On five minutes, Lisa Keenan’s defending efforts were rewarded when her shadowing forced Orla Fegan to lose the ball, and Keenan found Nulty in an inch of space and the 2006 All Star put her stamp on the game with her first of the evening, making it all square after five minutes. On six minutes, a great ball from Alisha Jordan to Duffy led to Duffy being fouled but her resulting free went narrowly wide. On seven minutes Meath went ahead when Niamh O’Sullivan was fouled and Nulty scored her second of the evening from the resulting free. Lisa Keenan and Adelle Carolan were forced into action on eight minutes and their pressure was enough to put off Down’s Natasha Ferris who sent the ball wide. Over the course of the next five minutes Meath were lucky to not concede anymore as Down put chance after chance wide. On thirteen minutes Meath went two ahead when Duffy and Nulty combined for Nulty’s third of the game. Despite two more wides coming from Pyers and Downey, Ferris reduced Downs deficit to one with a fine point on seventeen minutes.

On eighteen minutes, Louise McKeever, O’Sullivan and Duffy worked together but Duffy’s shot fell into the keepers arms. It was a chance Meath were to rue as a moment later Down pointed through Lisa Morgan and left the score all square four points apiece. On nineteen minutes Mary Sheridan’s fist pass to Alisha Jordan was slightly too hard and went over the endline for a further wide. On twenty two minutes Down broke through for the first goal of the game when a scramble on the square allowed Ferris into space and Meath goalkeeper and captain Irene Munnelly was unlucky as the shot ricocheted past her into the back of the net. On twenty three minutes Duffy was unlucky to see her free, from a foul on Blaithin Brennan, go wide. Blaithin added her point of the game on twenty four minutes to put just two points between the teams and Duffy converted a free on twenty-six minutes to put the minimum between the teams. However, Down finished the half the stronger pointing twice from midfielder Kyla Trainor and corner forward Pyers. It was just the goal that separated the teams at half time, Down 1-06 to Meath’s 0-06.

The second half began as the first with Grainne Nulty winning the throw in but it was Down that opened the scoring through Natasha Ferris. Unfortunately Meath were to rue their missed chances as they put shot after shot wide. Down were unlucky to not go further ahead as a free in on the 13m line hit the upright and Meath’s Louise McKeever was first to the loose ball to kick it to safety. On 35 minutes a cheer from the Meath sideline and supporters signaled the long awaited return to county football of Geraldine Doherty after her leg injury last year. Although she came on against Dublin in the Leinster semi final in the last ten minutes, the St. Ultans player was given more time on Sunday to rescue matters for the Royals. Immediately into the action Doherty was fouled on thirty-six minutes and Duffy converted the resulting free for her third of the afternoon. On thirty-eight minutes Meath escaped when Morgan found herself one on one with keeper Munnelly. Proving why she is one of the top keepers in the country Munnelly was off her line and did enough to ensure Morgan’s shot was wide.

On thirty-nine minutes, Doherty was fouled again and Nulty added her third of the evening with a long range free that floated over the bar. This seemed to lift Meath spirits and they kept pressure on Down for the next five minutes keeping the ball in their half. Despite a side from Nulty on forty-one minutes, the resulting kick-out was well caught by Lisa Keenan and the St. Michaels player brought the deficit back to one point while a minute later Summerhill’s Jenny Rispin added a further point to square the game up, ten points to 1-07. On forty-four minutes Down’s Lisa Morgan edged the Mourne County girls in front once again while hard working wing back Sinead Fegan doubled their advantage on forty-eight minutes. Duffy cancelled out the point two minutes later from a free after Keenan was fouled. On fifty-two minutes the game was all square once again when Mary Sheridan added her point to the mix. Downey was fouled on fifty-three minutes and the Down captain converted the free herself while a minute later Morgan added her third and final point of the game to put the Down girls ahead by two with just over five minutes to go on the clock. Elaine Duffy pointed Meath’s last score of the game on fifty-five minutes but this was as far as the Royals went. Down added a goal from midfielder Trainor and with it hitting the back of the net, Meath hopes were dashed. Although a late attempt by Nulty, and further saves by Munnelly, victory drifted further and further away as the timer ticked down. Down were awarded a 45’ on fifty-nine minutes and Orla Fegan compounded Royal misery when her shot went over the crossbar. Down finished five points to the good, 2-12 to 0-13.

All in all, it was not a bad Meath performance. The girls gave it their all and will regroup and learn some tough lessons from Sunday’s match. Down were deserving winners in the end, they always had that little bit extra to give if it was needed. Meath now continue to face the threat of relegation and will hear of who they will play during the week. Despite the loss, Meath should still be proud of themselves, they never gave up and played to the final whistle. They were best represented by Irene Munnelly, Lisa Keenan, Grainne Nulty, and Elaine Duffy. Hopefully the next day out will be a more joyous affair.

Meath Team & Scorers: I. Munnelly (captain), J.Scanlon, P. Sheridan, A. O’Rourke, L. Keenan (0-01), L. McKeever, A. Carolan, M. Sheridan(0-01), G. Nulty (0-04), B. Brennan (0-01), J. Rispin (0-01), N. O’Sullivan, C. Daly, E. Duffy (0-05), A. Jordan.
Subs: V. McGinn for O’Rourke (26mins), G. Doherty for O’Sullivan (35mins), J. Dolan for Daly (47mins), H. Lawton for Jordan (53mins).

The Meath Seniors have a fortnight to prepare for the next match on August 10th. A day before that (August 9th) the Meath Juniors travel to Galway for only their second game of the Aisling McGing Championship, where a win will probably ensure them a spot in the semi finals. Next Saturday, August 2nd, our A and B u-14 teams head to Carlow for the Leinster U-14 Blitz.

Referee: Liam McDonagh (Sligo)

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