Sloppy Meath hang on for dour stalemate

Meath… 2-10

Laois… 0-16

Colm O’Rourke’s first home game in charge saw his troops hang on for a draw after seeing a decent lead whittled away in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Baltic Pairc Tailteann.

By my reckoning, Meath made 13 changes from the side which defeated Carlow on Wednesday night. Naturally, in such a scenario, there were a few faces getting their first taste of action at this level. These included Michael Flood at corner back, Conor Quigley and David O’Neill in the half back line, Shane Crosby at centre field as Rathkenny’s Keith Curtis slotted in at top of the left.

With whatever advantage could be derived from the cross-field breeze, the locals opened the brighter with Shane McEntee and Daithi McGowan driving forward and Cillian O’Sullivan, Keith Curtis and the returning Jordan Morris looking particularly productive in attack.

The first of the aforementioned trio netted the home side’s first goal after a fine triangle of passes also involving McEntee and Morris. Thereafter however, Mark Barry, Eoin Lowry and Evan O’Carroll hauled Billy Sheehan’s team back into the contest. To the extent that only a Keith Curtis free on the call of half time ensured parity (1-04 to 0-07) at the midway point.

When the visitors lofted over the first pair of points of the second half, the men from the Midlands appeared to have stolen a stranglehold on momentum but a brace of fine scores from McGowan and substitute Donal Lenihan kept those in green and gold in there pitching.

Kevin Swayne of Laois is surrounded by Shane McEntee, Shane Crosby, Ross Ryan and Cillian O’Sullivan

When the excellent O’Sullivan netted for a second time and he, Morris, Curtis and Lenihan lofted over fine points it put their team clear by 2-09 to 0-10 with thirteen minutes remaining and on the road to victory, or so it seemed.

Until an old chestnut which has afflicted several Meath managers raised its head again. That being the tendency of our teams to fade out of matches. They did, to a point, defend stoutly in those closing stages but it was the O’Moore men who kicked the last handful of scores in the game. Thus guaranteeing their obduracy and industry didn’t go unrewarded.

However, in this hack’s opinion, they were denied a merited opportunity to go for a winner when on a least two occasions Laois defenders appeared to charge with the ball but the referee took the handy way out and hopped it on both occasions.

Still, given all the new faces blooded and all the inter-change of personnel, there was plenty to be gleaned from another useful days work. With it all still to play for against Longford in Ashbourne on Wednesday next.

MEATH: H. Hogan (Longwood); R. Ryan (Summerhill), C. Hickey (Seneschalstown), M. Flood (St Brigid’s); C. Quigley (Trim), D. O’Neill (Wolfe Tones), S. McEntee (St Peter’s, Dunboyne); D. McGowan (Ratoath, 0-1), S. Crosby (Duleek/Bellewstown); C. O’Sullivan (Moynalvey, 2-2), D. Campion (Skryne), J. O’Connor (Curraha); M. Costello (Dunshaughlin), J. Morris (Kingscourt Stars, 0-3), K. Curtis (Rathkenny, 0-2).

Subs; D. Keogan for Hickey, D. Lenihan (0-2) for Campion, D. Moriarity for Costello, R. Clarke for O’Neill, B. Conlon for Quigley, C. Moriarity for O’Connor, A. Lynch for Morris, S. Rafferty for McEntee.

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