Call for back up pays off as bench boots Royals home

Meath……0-16

Westmeath……0-15

A game-changing contribution from those who came in off the bench proved crucial as the home side got their bid for an automatic return to the top flight off to a winning start. Though it was Eamon Wallace who curled over what turned out to be the winner, the contributions of his fellow replacements Bryan McMahon, Jason Scully, Fionn Reilly and James Conlon were equally pivotal in repelling the sternest of challenges from the Lake County.

The sides went point for point early on, with Eoin Harkin, Bryan Menton, Jordan Morris and Cillian O’Sullivan particularly prominent. However, at no point could they shake off the shackles of Jack Cooney’s dogged side. For whom Ray Connellan and John Heslin and Ronan O’Toole and Luke Loughlin were outstanding throughout.

Talisman Heslin tapped over a handy free – in every sense of the word – to give the underdogs a slender 0-08 to 0-07 interval advantage their superior accuracy in front of goal just about deserved. Once the sides changed ends, the newly-promoted Midlanders appeared to have the residents in a right dither when on two separate occasions they opened four point cushions. A situation compounded when it appeared Meath had failed to attain maximum advantage when Sam Duncan departed the field on a Black Card after a tangle with Meath’s O’Sullivan.

Meath Captain Shane McEntee drives out of defence.

From the moment Bryan McMahon entered the fray there was more pep in the home team’s attacking play though their obdurate opponents were proving more difficult to shake off than a leaf stuck to your shoe. However, such was the impact of those who offered re-enforcement, when custodian Andy Colgan galloped forward to drive over an impressive long range free, there was an air of inevitability about the outcome. And what at one point looked a highly unlikely turnaround was completed when the crafty Wallace curled over in the 71st minute.

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