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Donegal 1-12 Meath 1-12

Updated: Monday, 10 Mar 2014 12:16 | Comments

Michael Murphy kept his cool to secure a point for Donegal
Michael Murphy kept his cool to secure a point for Donegal

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Michael Murphy was Donegal's saviour as they drew 1-12 apiece with Meath in a hard-fought Division 2 encounter at Ballybofey.

Murphy coolly converted a 20-metre free with the last kick of the game. The sides were level three times in the second half after Meath led 1-09 to 1-08 at half-time.

The Royals had burst into a 0-07 to 0-02 lead after 23 minutes before Michael Newman's goal was cancelled out by a fortuitous effort from Donegal defender Frank McGlynn.

Tir Chonaill boss Jim McGuinness admitted afterwards that his side were lucky to get a draw in the end, but their All-Ireland-winning captain deserves credit for landing the levelling point from a difficult angle near the sideline. 

Murphy had pointed Donegal ahead in the opening minutes but with Andrew Tormey and Shane O'Rourke giving the Royals the swing at midfield, they soon reeled off six points without reply. 

Murphy's second pointed free was cancelled out by O'Rourke for a 0-07 to 0-02 scoreline, with Meath's scores shared out by Tormey, Newman, Dalton McDonagh and O'Rourke. 

Donegal had been sluggish up to that point but a Dermot Molloy point and then McGlynn's 27th-minute goal - what looked like a point attempt dipped past Paddy O'Rourke and into the net - reduced the margin to a single point. 

However, Newman neatly rolled the ball past Paul Durcan for his goal soon after and closing points from Christy Toye and Murphy (free) left the gap at two for half-time - 1-07 to 1-05. 

Thanks to Newman and Brian McMahon, the visitors pulled four clear again early in the second period before Donegal responded with five points - including three from free-taker Colm McFadden - to take the lead for only the second time, 1-10 to 1-09. 

And it was nip and tuck until the finish. Substitute Eamon Wallace and Newman pointed to edge Meath back in front. Murphy levelled before another substitute, Graham Reilly, scored under pressure with five minutes remaining to restore Meath's lead. 

But with the clock ticking down, Murphy struck to earn a share of the spoils and maintain Donegal's unbeaten run in the second tier.

Donegal: Paul Durcan; Eamonn McGee, Neil McGee, Ryan McHugh; Frank McGlynn (1-00), Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson; Rory Kavanagh, Martin McElhinney; Mark McHugh, Christy Toye (0-02), Odhran Mac Niallais; Colm McFadden (0-03, 0-02f), Michael Murphy (0-06, 0-06f), Dermot Molloy (0-01).

Subs: Neil Gallagher for Kavanagh, Darach O'Connor for Molloy (both 42 mins), D Walsh for Mac Niallais (57).

Meath: Paddy O'Rourke; Donal Keoghan, Kevin O'Reilly, Mickey Burke; Sean Curran, Bryan Menton, Eoghan Hannigan; Andrew Tormey (0-02), Shane O’Rourke (0-01); Donnacha Tobin, Damien Carroll (0-01), Brian McMahon (0-01); Dalton McDonagh (0-01), Stephen Bray, Michael Newman (1-04, 0-02f).

Subs: Graham O'Reilly (0-01) for Bray, Padraic Harnan for Tobin (both half-time), Seamus Kenny for Curran (45 mins), Eamon Wallace (0-01) for McMahon (53).

Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh)

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