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Meath survive Clare test to seal place in All-Ireland football Super 8s

A meeting with Donegal beckons next Sunday.

Meath's Ethan Devine in action against Clare's Gordon Kelly.
Meath's Ethan Devine in action against Clare's Gordon Kelly.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Meath 2-16
Clare 1-18

WHEN THE FINAL whistle sounded Meath reacted with a mixture of joy and relief in the knowledge that their last eight progression was assured.

Clare’s players collapsed in despair, their 2019 summer race grinding to a halt. They fell short by the minimum, last-gasp points by David Tubridy and Dermot Coughlan bringing them close but not enough to draw them level.

Meath survived a gruelling examination, managing to chisel out a win a fortnight after a dispiriting day at the office in a Leinster final. A burst of scores after the break was sufficient for Andy McEntee’s side to propel them into All-Ireland last eight encounters against Donegal, Mayo and Kerry.

The second half of a cracking tie commenced with a couple of goals to ignite proceedings. Meath had nudged themselves clear with a couple of points before Clare wiped out that advantage. Cian O’Dea’s delivery from the right wing hung in the air but did not seem to pose grave danger for Meath. Yet Clare corner-forward Gavin Cooney managed to apply the vital touch to divert the ball across the line despite goalkeeper Andrew Colgan and defender Shane Gallagher being in close proximity.

Meath’s response was telling. They surged downfield, Mickey Newman swiftly exchanged passes with Padraic Harnan and got on the end to palm home to the net. Donal Keogan and Ethan Devine tacked on points to send them in front by four and looking in good shape.

Andy McEntee celebrates at the final whistle Andy McEntee celebrates Meath's victory at the final whistle. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The first half was bright, open and engaging stuff. Two teams who are frequently acquainted from their recent league meetings in the second tier were evenly matched. They were level on eight occasions and that state of parity was carried into the dressing rooms at the break, 1-9 to 0-12.

Meath plundered a goal in injury time at the end of the half. Donal Keogan scythed through, side-stepped Stephen Ryan and drilled a shot towards the goal. Kevin Harnett did wonderfully to tear back and block it but Bryan Mention was alive to lash home the rebound for a Royal boost.

However Clare struck four of the last five scores of the half, that sequence of points keeping them in touch. Jamie Malone was their driving force, 0-4 in the first half and three of those lovely sweeping shots between the posts when his team required them most late on.

Meath could never quite shake off a resilient Clare side though. Cathal O’Connor, Tubridy and Eoin Cleary nabbed points with Meath’s only response a Shane Walsh free. The winners were in front 2-14 to 1-15 with five minutes of normal time left and they had to endure over seven minutes of additional time. Clare got within a point but Meath clung on to their advantage to prolong their summer.

Scorers for Meath: Mickey Newman 1-6 (0-5f), James Conlon 0-3, Bryan Menton 1-0, Donal Keogan, Bryan McMahon, Ethan Devine, Thomas McGovern, Ben Brennan, Shane Walsh (0-1f), Cillian O’Sullivan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clare: David Tubridy 0-6 (0-3f), Jamie Malone 0-4, Gavin Cooney 1-0, Cathal O’Connor, Eoin Cleary (0-2f) 0-2 each, Gordon Kelly, Gary Brennan, Cian O’Dea, Dermot Coughlan 0-1 each.

Meath

1. Andrew Colgan (Donaghmore Ashbourne)

2. Séamus Lavin (St Peter’s, Dunboyne)
3. Conor McGill (Ratoath)
4. Shane Gallagher (Simonstown Gaels)

5. Donal Keogan (Rathkenny)
6. Padraic Harnan (Moynalvey – joint captain)
7. Gavin McCoy (St Peter’s Dunboyne)

8. Bryan Menton (Donaghmore Ashbourne – joint captain)
9. Shane McEntee (St Peter’s, Dunboyne)

19. Ethan Devine (St Colmcille’s)
11. Bryan McMahon (Ratoath)
13. Cillian O’Sullivan (Moynalvey)

15. James Conlon (St Colmcille’s)
14. Michael Newman (Kilmainham)
26. Thomas McGovern (Donaghmore-Ashbourne)

Subs

17. Thomas O’Reilly (Wolfe Tones) for Newman (temp sub) (43)
12. Graham Reilly (St Colmcille’s) for McGovern (44)
23. Shane Walsh (Na Fianna) for O’Reilly (54)
21. Seán Curran (Donaghmore-Ashbourne) for Gallagher (60)
10. Ben Brennan (St Colmcille’s) for Devine (63)
18. Seán Tobin (Simonstown Gaels) for Conlon (72)

Clare

1. Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks)

7. Kevin Harnett (Meelick)
3. Cillian Brennan (Clondegad)
2. Gordon Kelly (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay)

4. Dean Ryan (Na Fianna, Dublin)
6. Aaron Fitzgerald (Éire Óg Ennis)
5. Sean Collins (Cratloe)

9. Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen)
10. Seán O’Donoghue (Cooraclare)

11. Eoin Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay)
8. Gary Brennan (Clondegad – captain)
12. Jamie Malone (Corofin)

13. Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg Ennis)
14. David Tubridy (Doonbeg)
15. Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora)

Subs

21. Kieran Malone (St Joseph’s Miltown-Malbay) for O’Donoghue (46)
19. Dermot Coughlan (Kilmurry-Ibrickane) for Cooney (53)
24. Einne O’Connor (Éire Óg Ennis) for Kelly (62)
23. Gearóid O’Brien (Kilrush Shamrocks) for Ryan (65)
20. Eimhin Courtney (Éire Óg Ennis) for Cleary (72)

Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Portlaoise

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