Meath 1-14 Down 1-11

Updated: Sunday, 30 Mar 2014 19:38 | Comments

Meath's Shane O'Rourke scored two points for Meath
Meath's Shane O'Rourke scored two points for Meath

Meath kept their promotion prospects alive with a hard-earned 1-14 to 1-11 Allianz Football League Division 2 victory over Down in Navan.

Donal O'Hare notched five first-half points for the visitors, but scores from Bryan Menton and Graham Reilly reduced the half-time arrears to 0-07 to 0-06.

Down’s Ambrose Rogers netted in the 51st minute in response to a Reilly goal, before excellent scores from Damien Carroll (0-02), Reilly, Stephen Bray (0-02) and Shane O'Rourke helped the Royals finish the stronger.

Both teams came into the game on the back of two-point victories in round 5, and another win was vital for either side's aspirations of promotion to the top tier of the Allianz Football League.

Down took an early lead with a sixth-minute pointed free from the reliable O'Hare, but they suffered a major setback just three minutes later when livewire forward Conor Laverty was shown a black card for a high tackle on Caolan Young.

This certainly upset the balance of the Down attack. Meath took advantage to open their account with quick-fire scores from Michael Newman and Andrew Tormey, however, Laverty's replacement, Jerome Johnston, split the posts with his first meaningful contribution of the game.

Shane O'Rourke brilliantly found his range off the outside of his right boot just shy of the first quarter, and the impressive Tormey also added his second on 26 minutes.

Despite those scores, indiscipline by the Meath defence presented ace marksman O'Hare with several opportunities to add to his personal tally.

A quartet of successful placed-ball attempts by the Burren native, as well as a terrific long-range point by Niall Madine, helped the Mourne men gain a three-point cushion.

Back came the Royals though approaching half-time. They lost Newman and half-back Sean Curran to injury, but late points by Menton and Reilly reduced the deficit to the bare minimum (0-07 to 0-06) in time for the interval.

These scores were much needed by Meath as they aimed to turn the tide in their favour, and after Stephen Bray and substitute Seamus Kenny cancelled out Mark Poland and O'Hare points upon the resumption, they struck for the game's first goal.

Former All Star nominee Reilly finished off an intricate move deep into Down territory with 50 minutes on the clock.

The Ulster side's response was emphatic though, as the returning Rogers linked up effectively with Madin before firing beyond the reach of Royals goalkeeper Paddy O'Rourke.

If Down were to leapfrog their Ulster rivals Donegal and Monaghan in the league table, this was certainly the moment for the northerners to push themselves over the line - but, instead, it was Meath who found an extra gear.

Two points from half-back Damien Carroll (one from a close-in free) and one from Reilly edged Meath into the ascendancy, before a neat left-footed point by Paul Devlin settled Down again with eight minutes remaining.

However, a second Down black card - this time for wing back Conor Garvey - rocked them at just the wrong moment.

Meath then reeled off three scores on the trot from the outstanding Bray (0-02) and O'Rourke to give the hosts enough breathing space ahead of an injury-time point by Down corner-back Daniel McCartan.

Elsewhere, the top of the table Division 3 clash between Cavan and Roscommon at Kingspan Breffni Park ended with a 0-14 to 1-08 win for the home side. 

Meath: Paddy O'Rourke; Donal Keogan, Kevin Reilly, Caolan Young; Sean Curran, Eoghan Harrington, Damien Carroll (0-02, 0-01f); Bryan Menton (0-01), Shane O'Rourke (0-02); Donncha Tobin, Andrew Tormey (0-02), Graham Reilly (1-02); Dalton McDonagh, Stephen Bray (0-03), Michael Newman (0-01, 0-01f).

Substitutes: David Larkin for Newman (27 mins), Seamus Kenny (0-01) for Curran (34), Paddy Gilsenan for Harrington (49), David Bray for McDonagh (56), Mark O’Sullivan for Tormey (70+1).

Down: Shane Harrison; Daniel McCartan (0-01), Brendan McArdle, Owen Costello; Ryan Boyle, Aidan Carr, Conor Garvey; Peter Turley, Kevin McKernan; Conor Laverty, Mark Poland (0-01), Conor Maginn; Donal O'Hare (0-06, 0-06f), Niall Madine (0-01), Ambrose Rogers (1-00).

Substitutes: Jerome Johnston (0-01) for Laverty (10 mins, black card), Paul Devlin (0-01, 0-01f) for Rogers (56), Brendan Coulter for Johnston (59), Declan Rooney for Garvey (63, black card), Dara O’Hanlon for Boyle (66).

Referee: Padraig O'Sullivan (Kerry)

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