Laois grab the momentum and the win as Meath crash to earth

Meath… 1-07

Laois… 1-12

There are some lessons in life one simply has to learn the hard way. In all the years I’ve been doing match reports – either on the club’s behalf or my own – have I noted down a score before a shot was taken.

Don’t do it, it’s a total jinx. Dessie Dolan’s infamous free against Meath in 2003, Tyrone’s attempt at an equaliser in 2021 All Ireland MFC Final (thankfully) and tonight’s Leinster U-20 FC encounter between the Royal County and Laois.

The latter wasn’t concerning one single score, more so a steadfast belief that Meath would absolutely put the blue and white to the sword in their own O’Moore Park.

Akin to when Noel Meade pencilled Go Native in as a winner in his ledger of runners before the subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner had ran at all, it was unfortunately a case of putting the cart before the horse.

Not that it appeared there was going to be any bother early on. The mercurial Shaun Leonard galloping forward to put John McCarthy’s team in front inside the opening seconds.

Powerful full forward Oisin Keogh filled the Laois onion bag very shortly afterwards and when centre back Brian O’Reilly, skipper Eoghan Frayne and the outstanding Jack Kinlough (twice) pointed, it left the visitors well clear at that stage.

Jack Kinlough – St Peter’s, Dunboyne

However, even before the break, the home side seemed to rouse into life and a flurry of scores meant that Meath ‘only’ led by 1-06 to 0-05 half way through.

No doubt Laois went in with their tails up though. Count has been lost of the amount of time momentum has been the biggest game changer of the lot.

That it would change to such an extent that our lads would only score once in the second half is quite worrying. At least they have a chance to get back on track next week in the quarter final against Westmeath.

I’m reminded of the scene in Pat Comer’s excellent A Year ‘Til Sunday video documentary with the Galway footballers of 1998. John O’Mahony is talking to his troops in the immediate aftermath of the drawn Connacht Final against Roscommon.

“This extra game that we’re going to have is going to be the making of us”. Here’s hoping.

MEATH – O. McDermott; B. O’Halloran, L. Kelly, C. Ennis; J. Finnerty, B. O’Reilly (0-1), S. Leonard (0-1); J. Kinlough (0-2), C. Gray; T. Bowden, E. Frayne (0-3), L. Stafford; J. O’Regan, O. Keogh (1-0), R. Kinsella. SUBS – B. Moran for Stafford, J. McDonagh for Kinsella, K. Smyth for Bowden.

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