In another sporting event making headlines at the moment, potting the black ball can make all the difference between winning and losing and landing the white in the scoring area can lead to disaster. This afternoon in Owenbeg, it was Nicky Potterton’s entrenching of the white ball in the Derry net and the ensuing hoist of the green flag which made all the difference as Meath put in a tremendous performance to get their Christy Ring Cup ambitions back on track.
Taking on Ulster opposition in their own territory is always an onerous task at any time, but doing so a man light for more than 40 minutes makes the undertaking even more gargantuan. Yet, there’s something different about this Meath team. To quote the late, great Albert Reynolds I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, our spirited stickmen appear to be imbued with something which was once the stock-in-trade of our footballers. Nothing is impossible to them.
Even after losing James Toher to that 28th minute red mist, those who recently attained league promotion still led by 0-14 to 0-10 at the midway point. However, when the Oak Leaf County hit the first 1-2 – the goal coming from a penalty – after the break, one could have been forgiven for thinking numerical advantage would have saw the locals kick on. But no, instead, as happens so often, it was those who were down numbers who strengthened their resolve and productivity.
Though selected to start at corner back, when Sean Geraghty made his usual telling contribution around midfield upon his introduction, it freed Martin Healy to fill the gap left by Toher’s expulsion. I don’t know if there’s an award for individual hurler of the year in the Christy Ring Cup but if such an accolade does exist, Kildalkey’s Brendan McKeon must surely be in the running for same.
Though in fairness, every one of Seoirse Bulfin’s men’s efforts were Herculean in nature. With large numbers maning the trenches at the back, leaving Eamon Og O’Donnchadha engage the adversary (enemy might be a bit strong!) at the other end.
Boy did they come out firing. Eamon has been a shining light of what Meath have achieved so far thls year, never more so than today. Though in the end it was Potterton’s wonder strike which made all the difference in the end as – due to the heroics at the back, Derry were never able to get the goal they needed to regain control.
MEATH – C. Ennis; M. Burke, S. Brennan, B. McKeon; N. McLarnon, J. Toher, S. Ennis (0-1); P. Ryan, M. Healy; P. O’Hanrahan (0-6, 4F), J. Regan (0-5,1F), J. Kelly (0-1); S. Quigley (0-1), E. Og O’Donnchadh (0-4), N. Potterton (1-2).
SUBS – S. Geraghty for Quigley, D. Shine (0-1) for Ryan, M. Cole for Kelly, M. O’Sullivan for Healy.