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Monaghan survive Meath scare

Meath 2-08 Monaghan 3-08

            A hat trick of Monaghan goals in the second half of this keenly fought contest paved the way for a third successive defeat for the Royal County. Many might feel that the Royals could be in trouble, however Lar Wall and Martin Connolly, Meath’s joint managers will be happy with the steady progress their team is making. In fact, Meath were the better team for large amounts of this contest, they led at the break and minor errors allowed Monaghan in to attack in the second half. Another loss perhaps, but this season is a marathon, not a sprint.

            It was Monaghan who were first on the scoreboard with a point in the opening ten seconds of the fixture. They added a second before Meath pulled a point back courtesy of a Katie O’Brien free, after O’Brien herself had been fouled. Monaghan added a further brace of points despite heavy Meath defence leaving Monaghan having to shoot from distance. Meath’s response came midway through the half when an Aine Bennett effort was saved by Monaghan netminder Aisling Tierney, Colleen Jordan chased up the stray ball, found Vivienne McCormack in space and the Clann na nGael player needed no second urgings to send a high ball back into the square, indeed it even travelled past Tierney and landed in the top left hand corner of the net. Game on! The teams traded scores with Geraldine Doherty pointing for the Royals. Sinead McCormack added Meath’s third point with a super high effort about 30m out. Meath’s pressure was continuous, with Katie O’Brien, Geraldine Doherty, Vivienne McCormack and Bridgetta Lynch leading Meath’s charge. Tight defending by Emma Troy and Lauren McCann saw off Monaghan dangers and forced them wide. Katie O’Brien had the final say of a tense first half with a lovely point creeping inside the near post when she sent her marker the wrong way. A string of Meath wides at the end of the half highlighted their dominance and it was definitely the Royals that went in the happier at the break, Meath 1-04, Monaghan 0-05.

            The second half got underway with Monaghan down one player having had Ciara Duffy sin binned at the end of the first half. Colleen Jordan pointed for the Royals in the 33rd min to put them three in front, however their lead was levelled when Caoimhe Mohan put the ball past Irene in goals in the 35th min. The teams traded scores once again, both frees with Doherty pointing for Meath on 37 mins. Doherty put Meath a point in front on 43 mins from a tough angle. Monaghan’s response was immediate, a goal a minute later and they pointed to go three in front on 46 mins. Doherty again pointed on 48 mins reducing the gap to two. With Emma Troy and Jenny Rispin firm at the back, Meath were doing all in their power to dig out a result. Monaghan however had other ideas and scored their third goal of the contest on 50 mins. Meath still determined worked the ball further up the pitch once more. Bridgetta Lynch was fouled and referee Gavin Corrigan awarded a penalty which substitute Aine Bennett duly put away with aplomb. With just two points between the teams and five minutes to play Meath pressed their attack, however Monaghan had the last say of the contest with a point on 57 mins. Despite a late attempt from Emma Troy it finished in Ashbourne with Monaghan three points to the good, incidentally the same margin they defeated Meath by last year in the league. It finished in Ashbourne, Meath 2-08, Monaghan 3-08.

            Despite this being Meath’s third loss in the campaign, Meath have huge reason to be optimistic. With a break in the league next weekend Meath will use it to rest up and celebrate last season. The team has improved on each round of the league and they can be confident heading into ties against Tyrone, Donegal, Mayo and Laois. The reintroduction to the panel of Shauna Bennett and Eileen Rahill will only serve to strengthen Meath’s management’s team selection. Best for Meath on the day were Katie O’Brien, Emma Troy, Vivienne McCormack, Bridgetta Lynch and Geraldine Doherty.

Meath Team and Scorers: Irene Munnelly, Orla Byrne, Aedin Murray, Lauren McCann, Shauna Ennis, Maire O’Shaughnessy, Emma Troy, Sinead McCormack (0-01), Vivienne McCormack (1-00), Tracy King, Bridgetta Lynch, Katie O’Brien (0-02, 1f), Geraldine Doherty (0-04, 1f), Colleen Jordan (0-01), Aine Bennett (1-00).

Subs: Sinead Coyle for King, Jenny Rispin for Bennett, Shauna Bennett for Orla Byrne, Niamh Lister for Lauren McCann, Laura Bagnall for Maire O’Shaughnessy.

Monaghan: A. Tierney, A. McAnespie, N. Fahy, C. Reilly, G. McNally, S. Courtney, Y. Connell, E. McKenna, C. Courtney, T. McNally, C. Mohan, A. Newell, C. McConnell, C. McAnespie, E. McCarron.

Referee: Gavin Corrigan

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