Tyrone 1-10 Meath 0-11
Tyrone advanced to Round 3B of the All-Ireland qualifiers with a two-point win over Meath at Healy Park.
Meath didn’t score until the 29th minute, but led 0-04 to 0-03 at half-time, with Michael Newman (2), Donncha Tobin and Graham Reilly on target.
Peter Harte netted a 54th-minute penalty, and points from Mark Bradley, Tiernan McCann and Ronan McNabb carried the Red Hands home.
This was a game that took more than three quarters of an hour to ignite, with both teams looking as if they were more terrified of losing than determined to win.
It was only when Harte smashed home the only goal of the tie that the game opened up and provided some genuine quality and entertainment for the 6,895 spectators who attended.
Tyrone got off to the stronger start and had an early chance when Joe McMahon’s long punt hopped over the heads of two Meath defenders, but a lurking Connor McAliskey just failed to get a hand to the ball.
It wasn’t until the ninth minute that Sean Cavanagh opened the scoring from McAliskey’s clever off-load.
Meath struggled to break down a packed Tyrone defence, and with their danger-men starved of possession, they failed to score in the opening quarter.
Tyrone, with Peter Harte and Mark Bradley using their vision and accurate foot-passing to create openings, were slightly more productive, increasing their lead to two with another Cavanagh effort, set up by Ronan McNabb’s surge from deep.
Having struggled to create any real openings for the best part of half an hour, the Royals suddenly enjoyed a purple patch.
Mickey Newman broke through to fire in a shot which was kept out by goalkeeper Niall Morgan’s out-stretched foot, but they kept up the momentum, hitting four points in the space of five minutes to go two ahead.
Newman converted a couple of frees, and Graham Reilly and Donncha Tobin were also on target.
Bradley’s free narrowed the gap, but the Red Hands trailed by one at half-time.
Brian McMahon stretched the lead to two, but Tiernan McCann, off the bench at the break, was already making his presence felt with surging runs from deep, driving directly at the Meath defence
Harte and McAliskey sent over points to level the scores, and Meath had just gone back in front through Donal Keogan when referee Ciaran Branagan awarded a penalty for a foul on McCann, with Harte stepping up to rifle the kick to the roof of the net.
They opened up a three-point lead through Bradley, Ronan McNabb and McCann, and going into the final ten minutes, this one was Tyrone’s to lose.
But Meath were not prepared to give up the fight, and Kevin Reilly came into the game to hit a couple of points, and Graham Reilly brought his tally to three.
But Bradley’s third point, five minutes from the end, was an important score, and left the Leinster men with too much to do.
Tyrone: N Morgan, A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron, R McNabb (0-01), Joe McMahon, R Brennan, P Harte (1-01, 1-0 pen), C Cavanagh, R Donnelly, M Donnelly, B Tierney, M Bradley (0-03, 1f), S Cavanagh (0-02), C McAliskey (0-01, f).
Subs: D McCurry (0-01) for R Donnelly (h-t), T McCann (0-01) for Tierney (h-t), C McKenna for Brennan (42), C McShane for Bradley (70)
Meath: C McHugh, J McEntee, C McGill, D Tobin (0-01), D Keogan (0-01), D Dalton, P Harnan, B Menton (0-01), H Rooney, G Reilly (0-03), M Newman (0-02, 2f), A Tormey, E Wallace, S Bray, B McMahon (0-01).
Subs: D Lenihan for Wallace (13), K Reilly (0-02) for Newman (54), S Tobin for Bray (63)
Referee: C Branagan (Down).