The story so far: the Dublin and Meath minors’ paths to the final

They’ve already met this summer but how will Sunday’s minor decider turn out? Here’s the story of Dublin and Meath’s season so far.

Leinster MFC 1st Round

14 April: Dublin 2-21 Carlow 0-04

There were plenty of new faces in the Dublin ranks as Dessie Farrell’s men easily swept past Carlow in the first round of the Leinster Championship at Dr Cullen Park.

The visitors led comfortably by 0-7 to 0-1 at the break before goals from St Vincent’s Gavin Burke and Shane Cunningham of Kilmacud Crokes put the game beyond all doubt.

14 April: Meath 1-11 Longford 0-11

Wing-forward Cillian O’Sullivan (pictured below) put in a star turn as Meath were pushed to the wire by Longford in Pearse Park.

Despite early dominance the Royals needed a first-half penalty, converted by Barry Dardis on the stroke of half-time, to ensure that they went in a point to the good.

O’Sullivan was the difference between the sides from that point on, kicking a total of five points, four from play, as Meath fought for a three-point victory.

Leinster MFC semi-finals

7 July: Meath 3-14 Westmeath 1-07

Coming off a nine-point victory against Offaly in the quarter-finals, Meath proved to be too strong for Leinster neighbours Westmeath when the sides met in Cusack Park.

Goals from Barry Dardis and Fiachra Ward helped Meath to a 2-8 to 1-4 lead at the break and the game was long put to bed by the time Summerhill’s Dardis bagged his second three minutes from time.

11 July: Dublin 2-16 Kildare 1-08

Dublin’s defence of their Leinster title continued with a 2-14 to 1-05 win against Longford in the quarter-finals and Dessie Farrell’s men followed that up with an impressive showing against Kildare in the semis, beating the Lilywhites by double scores.

The Dubs didn’t have it all their own way in the first half and after Neil Flynn got the game’s opening goal for Kildare, Dublin had to work to go in on level terms, 0-8 to 1-5.

After the restart there was only one team in St Conleth’s Park as Dublin scored 2-8 to Kildare’s three points, Cormac Costello and Conor McHugh supplying the goals.

Leinster MFC final

22 July: Dublin 3-17 Meath 1-11

It usually takes a while for Hill 16 to fill on Leinster final Sunday but for those Dublin fans who did get out of the pub in time to catch the minor decider, Cormac Costello made it well worth their while.

Costello was in regal form, finishing with a individual haul of 3-4 that nearly matched Meath’s 14-point total. Conor McHugh kicked four points of his own as the Dubs cruised to their 31st Leinster minor title in inspiring fashion.

All-Ireland MFC quarter-finals

5 August: Dublin 1-16 Monaghan 0-8

Monaghan were no match for a well-drilled Dublin, who breezed past the beaten Ulster finalists and into the All-Ireland semis without ever needing to step up into top gear.

After racing into an early 0-5 to 0-0 lead, Dublin never looked likely to be caught. They led 0-7 to 0-2 at the break and when Cormac Costello played in Stephen Cunningham for the game’s only goal in the 44th minute, progress was assured with time to spare.

5 August: Tyrone 1-14 Meath 2-12

By contrast, Meath needed a last-minute smash and grab to shake Ulster champions Tyrone as they were pushed all the way to the line in a thrilling quarter-final.

Goals at either end of a pulsating contest settled the game in Meath’s favour. Named at corner-forward, Barry Dardis palmed home the game’s opening goal after just 12 seconds only to see Sean Hackett cancel it out four minutes later.

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The sides were level at 1-7 apiece at half-time and remained neck and neck down the stretch. Tyrone led by two points as the game clock ticked away but Stephen Coogan was the Royals’ saviour, scrambling home the winning goal in the final minute.

All-Ireland MFC semi-finals

26 August: Meath 2-10 Mayo 1-11

Meath did it the hard way again in the semi-finals, relying on two late goals to complete a remarkable comeback against Mayo and book a place in the All-Ireland final for the first time in 10 years.

For Mayo’s minors, it was another forgettable day in Croke Park to the add to the long list of senior disappointment. They led by seven points on two separate occasions but threw it all away in 25 scoreless minutes of the second half.

A Fiachra Ward penalty four minutes from time gave the Royals a glimmer of hope and when the ball broke to Patrick Kennelly in injury time, the substitute fired past Mayo keeper Conor O’Malley.

2 September: Dublin 3-12 Kerry 1-10

For the first time this summer, Dublin were given a real scare before they flicked on the afterburners to beat Kerry by eight points and set up an all-Leinster decider against Meath.

The Dubs led by eight points early in the second half, 2-7 to 0-5, but allowed Kerry reel them back in to two and then would have fallen behind but for the vigilance of David Byrne who was on the line to flick away a certain goal.

Kerry’s chance gone, substitute David Campbell scored Dublin’s third goal as the Leinster champions stretched clear into their second successive final.

All photos (c) INPHO

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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