Meath Claim Leinster Minor Honours

With a scintillating performance, Meath Minors were crowned Leinster Champions in Kinnegad on Sunday afternoon. A goal fest first half gave Meath a comfortable lead at half time and the Royals didn’t look back, pushing forward at every opportunity.  Third time lucky for the Royals as they had previously been defeated by the Lilywhites in the round robin stages by the slimmest of margins and as Captain Marion Farrelly put it at the start, we are not going to lose today.

Captain Marion Farrelly

A signal of Royal commitment for the afternoon was given early on as Laurie McLean made a super save from Neasa Dooley in the opening minutes. This ignited the Royals and Kelsey Nesbitt hit the back of the Kildare net after super teamwork from Aoibhín Cleary, Marion Farrelly and an inch perfect through ball from Vikki Wall. While Emma White was pulled down in the box, Marion Farrelly pulled the resulting penalty just wide, the Royal cries got louder and Meath grabbed goal number two on six minutes, Cleary with a top class finish. The teams exchanged points on 11 mins, Louise Scully pointing for the Lillies while Wall opened her account with a fine point after a well worked Megan Thynne pass found Wall in space. Dooley narrowed the gap to three when she found the back of McLean’s goal but this was as close as the Lillies got as the Royals upped the gears. A well timed pass from the superb Megan Thynne found Nesbitt and the Simonstown player made no mistake with the finish on 14 mins. On the resulting kickout, Nesbitt fielded supremely, a high ball in front of the square had Emma White and Vikki Wall combining with White just getting the final flick as the Royals grabbed goal number four on 15 mins. With Aoibhín Cleary and Emma White marshalling midfield and Karley Leavy, Katie Bellew and Megan Lyons hard at work in defence, the Royals kept pushing forward.


A pair of Vikki Wall points on 17 and 21 mins increased Meath’s lead with a Farrelly free on 22 mins keeping the scoreboard ticking over. A Kildare free judged not to have travelled 13m resulted in a Meath free 47 yards out. Take a pop at it, came the instruction from the sideline and Wall dutifully obliged, not only did it make the target, it dropped short and straight into the Kildare goal for Royal goal number five. To their credit, Kildare didn’t panic and continued their runs, Aine Nash popping over Kildare’s second point on 25 mins while the teams traded points as half time approached, Aoife Stapleton converting a free on the stroke of half time, when Meath were down to fourteen as Megan Lyons was sinbinned. Roisín Commons got the final score of a scintillating opening half deep into injury time, Wall the provider once again.


Half Time: Meath 5-05, Kildare 1-03


As Kildare rang in the changes at the start of the second half, it was these changes that made waves in the Lillies attack, Lauren Kelly and Megan Grufferty unsettling the Royal defence initially but their attempts were thwarted by Niamh and Emma Cassidy, Katie Bellew and Emer McEntee. Captain Farrelly got Meath’s opening score of the second half on 31 mins before McLean was again called to the fore, saving Aine Nash’s shot. Molly Price opened her account on 32 mins, the first of six second half scores. Two points from Wall and Farrelly on 34 and 35 mins settled the Royals again as they did their best to contain the Lillies. The Royals were once again down to fourteen as Cleary was harshly sin binned and Price converted three unanswered frees on 39, 40 and 43 mins. The last free saw the Royals down to thirteen as Emma White too saw yellow for an innocuous challenge where the St. Pats player was on the receiving end of a strike. Nesbitt pulled a point back for the Royals on 44 mins with McLean again pressed into action a minute later. The Donaghmore-Ashbourne has already had a super season with her club and today was no exception. Price added her fourth point of the half on 49 mins from a distance out as the Royals refused to let the Lillies in for the goal they were seeking. The second half was a real test of the Royal’s defence and they coped admirably, Emma Cassidy, Katie Bellew and Karley Leavy specialists in smothering away the ball time and again and setting up an attack. Megan Thynne and Hannah Mulvaney were incredible throughout, their runs deep into the Kildare half setting up attack after attack. White converted Meath’s tenth point on 57 mins after she herself was fouled to crown a momentous performance and worthy choice as Player of the Match. Meath were unlucky not to score further as substitute Caoimhe McKenna came close twice, her second effort a volley ricocheted off the post. Three further scores for the Lillies, Aine Nash, Price and Stapleton all converting but by this stage it was mere consolation, the Royal’s opening half lead proving insurmountable. It ended, much to the delight of Meath supporters with a well-earned Royal win and a place in the All Ireland Minor B semi-final in two weeks time against Cavan.


Full Time; Meath 5-10, Kildare 1-11


Today’s stunning performance from the Meath Minors is what the county have been waiting for. From one to twenty-nine, the Royals were defiant and in a determined mood. Eamon Murray and his management team will be delighted with the display of their charges and will undoubtedly now prepare for the All Ireland semi final with a pep in their step. Today’s final will give the team newfound confidence that may have been missing in earlier rounds, especially after losing to the Lillies this season. The hard fought contest will serve them well as they now plan for Cavan in two weeks. The journey continues for an incredible group of girls. Congratulations to Emma White who was awarded the Player of the Match. Onwards and upwards to the All Ireland competition!


Meath Team & Scorers: Laurie McLean, Megan Lyons, Katie Bellew, Emma McCarney, Emer McEntee, Emma White (1-01, 1f), Niamh Cassidy, Aoibhín Cleary (1-00) Karley Leavy, Megan Thynne, Roisín Commons (0-01), Hannah Mulvaney, Kelsey Nesbitt (2-01), Marion Farrelly (0-03, 1f, C), Vikki Wall (1-04)

Subs: Regina Hand for Commons (HT), Caoimhe McKenna for Nesbitt (56 mins), Claire Mullen for Leavy (57 mins), Rhiannon Hoey, Emma McCarney, Tara Fay, Lizzie Collins, Becca McIntyre, Martha Reidy, Sarah Wall, Rachel Troy, Judy Bobbett, Ailbhe Leahy.


Kildare: Emma McGrory, Beth Doyle, Rose Mernagh, Sabrina Kennedy, Dervla McGinn, Tara Breen (C), Louise Scully (0-01), Alannah McLoughlin, Aoife Stapleton (0-02, 1f), Aine Nash (0-01), Roisín Forde, Nicole Dooley (0-01), Kayleigh Humphries, Nessa Dooley (1-00), Molly Price (0-06, 3f).

Subs: Megan Grufferty for Humphries, Lauren Kelly for Scully, Clara Wosser for Doyle, Amy Horan for Kennedy.


Ref: Des McEnery (Westmeath)

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