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Meath 0-18 Wexford 0-13

Updated: Sunday, 30 Jun 2013 20:55 | Comments

Meath are through to a successive Leinster decider
Meath are through to a successive Leinster decider

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Free-taker Mickey Newman scored half of Meath's points as they beat Wexford 0-18 to 0-13 to reach their second successive Leinster SFC final.

Wexford were the better team in the first half at Croke Park, but only led 0-08 to 0-07 at the interval with Ciaran Lyng and Ben Brosnan scoring five points between them.

They hit some costly wides and Meath, with Graham Reilly and Stephen Bray growing in influence, gradually edged clear as nine-point hero Newman finished off Wexford's challenge.

Meath manager Mick O'Dowd gave former captain Seamus Kenny his first competitive start since he damaged his cruciate knee ligament 13 months ago, while Pádraic Harnan made his full Championship debut in defence.

Wexford made two late switches as Lee Chin, who played for the county's Under-21 and senior hurlers in recent days, and James Holmes made way for Rob Tierney and Shane Roche respectively.

Chin helped the Model men to a narrowly All-Ireland SHC qualifier win over Carlow last night and he was actually pressed into action early on at Croke Park. Tierney was thankfully able to continue though, as Chin suffered some swelling to his knee during his short spell on the pitch.

It was a little too frantic in the opening minutes, Wexford's PJ Banville knocking a point attempt off the post after Donal Keoghan's poor clearance and Reilly and Bray both posted wides.

Lyng lobbed over a close range free to give Wexford a fifth minute lead, before Newman replied following a good carry from the fit-again Kenny.

That pattern was repeated when free-taker Newman cancelled out Lyng's second point, set up by a Daithi Waters hand pass, and the quality continued to increase with Brosnan pointing brilliantly on the turn.

Lyng made it 0-04 to 0-02 from an 11th minute free, but Newman laid off for Peadar Byrne to respond and Wexford conjured up three wides in a row as Brosnan and Brian Malone erred.

Newman and Bray were also guilty of poor shooting at the other end, and a soft free won by Redmond Barry allowed Brosnan to restart the scoring from midfield.

Wexford sparked into life again as wing back Adrian Flynn drove forward to prize open a three-point gap - although there was a double hop in the build-up - and Meath swiftly replied through Bray.

The Wexford midfield tandem were getting on top as Rory Quinlivan darted through and fed Banville for a close range score, and defender Malone followed suit by charging through the middle to slot over Wexford's eighth point.

Just as Wexford were beginning to motor, Reilly popped over a welcome point for the Royals and teenager Eamonn Wallace did well to score from an acute angle and close the gap to 0-08 to 0-06.

With full-back Graeme Molloy off receiving treatment, Meath made it a one-point game as Byrne profited from a loose clearance from Banville to register his second score.

Brosnan fluffed his lines badly when missing two late frees, the second a very kickable one, as Wexford's wides tally increased to seven before the half-time whistle.

Banville drew a quick free on the restart for Brosnan to get back on track and reopen a two-point lead, and the pace of the game was soon back up to Championship level.

The free-running Malone burst through for his second point and Reilly matched him, stylishly clipping over with the aid of the left hand post.

Reilly was then hauled down by David Murphy who earned a yellow card for the challenge and Newman converted the free from the ground, paring the deficit back to 0-10 to 0-09.

Banville then shot limply and straight at Paddy O'Rourke and the Royals were back level in the 46th minute thanks to Newman's fourth successful free.

The young Kilmainham clubman won and pointed his fifth free soon after, with Joe Sheridan's timely introduction drawing a big cheer from the Royal ranks.

Reilly increased his influence with a third point, although Sheridan was available to his left for a possible goal-scoring chance. Meath continued to sweep forward in numbers, Brian Meade drawing a free which Newman sent wide from a difficult angle.

Wexford ended their 15-minute scoreless with a close-in point from the industrious Redmond Barry, and Newman suffered his second miss from a placed ball as the hour mark approached.

However, the big corner forward was back on target as Meath edged 0-13 to 0-11 in front and while Wexford pressed for a goal, Lyng's rising shot - their only real goal-scoring chance - was parried over by Meath net minder Paddy O'Rourke.

Meath looked to have more in the tank and Wexford continued to offer them free-taking opportunities. O'Dowd's side put on a sudden spurt with Newman rifling over again with his right boot and Reilly scampered into space on the right to widen the margin to 0-15 to 0-12.

Lyng took his tally to 0-05, but Wexford lacked the necessary composure and disciplin in the closing minutes and they were held scoreless as Meath confirmed their progress through to another provincial decider.

Lyng badly miscued a kickable free and Meath decisively rattled off three late scores with Bray landing a tremendous effort from the right and Newman tagging on two more frees, the latter one coming in injury-time after the hard-working Bray was fouled.

MEATH: Paddy O'Rourke; Donal Keoghan, Kevin Reilly, Bryan Menton; Pádraic Harnan, Caomhín King, Seamus Kenny; Brian Meade, Conor Gillespie; Peadar Byrne (0-02), Damien Carroll, Graham Reilly (0-04); Eamonn Wallace (0-01), Stephen Bray (0-02), Mickey Newman (0-09, 0-09f).

Subs used: Ciaran Lenehan for King (40 mins), Joe Sheridan for Wallace (48), Paddy Gilsenan for Byrne (52), Andrew Tormey for Meade (60), Bryan McMahon for Reilly (70+1).

WEXFORD: Anthony Masterson; Michael Furlong, Graeme Molloy, Robert Tierney; Brian Malone (0-02), David Murphy, Adrian Flynn (0-01); Daithi Waters, Rory Quinlivan; Shane Roche, Ben Brosnan (0-03, 0-02f), Aindreas Doyle; Ciaran Lyng (0-05, 0-03f), Redmond Barry (0-01), PJ Banville (0-01).

Subs used: Lee Chin for Tierney (15-19 mins, blood sub), Conor Carty for Molloy (32-34, blood sub), Paddy Byrne for Roche, James Holmes for Doyle (both 53), Kevin Gore for Banville (60), Carty for Quinlivan (68), Kevin O'Grady for Brosnan (70).

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)

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