Mayo once again had the dream of All Ireland glory dashed after a bruising football final replay.
An All Ireland final that started with a bang. Several of them actually. When a Maurice Sheridan free kick dropped short in the Meath goal mouth a free for all brawl broke out involving the majority of players. The end result saw one player from each side sent to the line Colm Coyle for Meath and Liam McHale for Mayo. All of this after a little over seven minutes of play.
Mayo with a strong wind at their back settled into the game quicker. After nineteen minutes they had four points on the board with Meath still looking to register a score. Mayo dominated much of the first half and three minutes from half time PJ Loftus scored the first goal of the afternoon to leave Mayo leading 1-05 to 0-02. Celebrating Mayo supporters were still on a giddy high until moments later when Meath were awarded a penalty. Trevor Giles put that away and reduced the Mayo lead to three points. There was still time for Mayo score one more point and hold a four point lead at half time.
The second half started with Meath scoring two points within a minute from Tommy Dowd and Trevor Giles. Another Dowd point reduced the deficit to a single point. Mayo steadied themselves and a James Horan point after twenty three minutes of the second half put Mayo two to the good again.
When Mayo gave away the ball in attack it was played long into Graham Geraghty who was fouled. The Meath man reacted quickly and put Tommy Dowd through to score Meath's second goal. With ten minutes remaining Meath had the lead for the first time in the game. A James Horan point put the sides level again.
Into the final minute and thoughts turning to extra time until Brendan Reilly got loose and scored from a difficult angle. There was still time for one more Mayo attack but it came to nothing and Meath were the 1996 All Ireland Football Champions. The final score was Meath 2-09 Mayo 1-11
The replay of the 1996 All Ireland Football Final was played on 29 September 1996.
Highlights shown here are taken from The Sunday Game Live. The commentator is Ger Canning and Martin McHugh