Kevin O’Brien reports from Parnell Park
TRAILING BY 10 points at the interval, Dublin produced a remarkable performance to edge out Meath after extra-time in the Leinster MFC first-round.
Dublin gained revenge on the Royals for last year’s quarter-final defeat and they couldn’t have scripted it any better.
Meath appeared to be coasting to victory at the interval, but Dublin’s response after the break was remarkable. They trailed by 1-10 to 0-3 at half-time but outscored the Royals by 1-8 to 0-1 in the second period as the away side completely capitulated.
The winners had all the momentum heading into extra-time and three big scores from Ciaran Archer sealed the win.
Dublin had sports psychologist and senior star Kevin McManamon as part of their backroom team, and the man known for his ability to turn a game on its head must have had a few influential words during half-time.
The first-half was exhibition stuff at times from the Royals, who completely outclassed the home side in every facet of the game.
Meath operated with a 2-2-2 system in attack, rather than the conventional shape of three half forwards and three full-forwards. Wing-forwards Connell Ahearne and Paddy Conway dropped deep to protect the defence when Dublin were in possession, while Sean Martin and Conor Freyne kept their shape down the middle channel on the 40.
It left the Royals with a pair of inside forwards – Jordan Morris and Shane Walsh. Walsh kicked 0-6 and it won’t be long before he makes the step up to the senior ranks.
Centre-forward James Doran and corner-forward Archer were central figures in the Metropolitan fightback. The menacing duo bagged 1-11 between them as Doran’s hard-running and Archer’s accuracy proved pivotal.
Dublin trailed by just a point after the opening 12 minutes, but Meath soon made their dominance count. Conor Freyne’s wonderful individual goal and a brace of points from Walsh pushed the Royals six in front in a devastating five-minute spell.
Donal Ryan kicked Dublin’s first score in nine minutes, but Meath finished the half with five unanswered scores to lead by 10 at the half.
Dublin signalled their intent with three quick scores after the break, including a brace from Archer.
Back by the wind, Dublin dominated the exchanges after the break and kicked the first five scores after the turnaround, with Archer kicking three fine scores.
Walsh posted Meath’s first score of the half on 55 minutes, but moments later Dublin’s Doran fired in a stunning goal from 14 metres to leave them trailing by 1-11 to 1-9.
Doran and Ryan added a score apiece to force extra-time. In the dying minutes Meath lost defender Robbie Clarke to a red card, but they were restored to a full compliment for extra-time.
Archer added three points in extra-time as Dublin ran out 1-15 to 1-13 winners.
Scorers for Dublin: James Doran 1-4, Ciaran Archer 0-7 (0-1f), Ross McGarry 0-2 (0-1f), Donal Ryan,and Mark Tracey 0-1 each.
Scorers for Meath: Shane Walsh 0-6 (0-3f), Conor Freyne 1-1, Jordan Morris 0-3, Adam Murphy, Sean Martin and Paddy Conway 0-1 each.
1. David O’Hanlon (Na Fianna)
2. Liam Flatman (Kilmacud Crokes)
3. Peadar O Cofaigh Byrne (Cuala)
4. Aaron Lynch (St Sylvester’s)
5. Kieran Kennedy (Ballyboden St Enda’s)
6. Neil Matthews (Erin’s Isle)
7. Eoin O’Dea (Na Fianna)
8. Donal Ryan (Na Fianna)
9. Mark Tracey (Cuala)
10. Niall O’Leary (Kilmacud Crokes)
11. James Doran (Na Fianna)
12. Daniel Brennan (St Sylvester’s)
13. Ross McGarry (Ballyboden St Enda’s)
14. Seán Hawkshaw (Naomh Mearnóg)
15. Ciarán Archer (St Maur’s)
24. David Lacey for Hawkshaw (ht)
22. Karl Lynch Bissett for Brennan (ht)
21. Adam Byrne for O’Leary (41)
23. Darragh Conlon for Tracey (68)
19. Gavin Nangle for Kennedy (72)
1. Andrew Beakey (St. Colmcille’s)
2. Sean Ryan (St. Peter’s, Dunboyne)
3. Dan Devine (Na Fianna)
4. Robbie Clarke (Skryne)
5. Adam Murphy (Moynalvey
6. John Keane Summerhill
7. Jack Hetherington (Dunshaughlin
8. Cian Swaine (Clan na Gael)
9. Liam Byrne (St. Peter’s, Dunboyne)
10. Connell Ahearne (Ratoath)
11. Sean Martin (Na Fianna)
12. Paddy Conway (St. Peter’s, Dunboyne)
13. Jordan Morris (Nobber)
14. Shane Walsh (Na Fianna)
15. Conor Freyne (Summerhill)
18. Robert Smyth for Conway (41)
17. Saran O Fionnagain for Morris (51)
19. Caolon Ward for Hetherington (54)
21. Joseph Donnelly for Ahearne (41)
20. Niall Mulvey – Meath restored to 15 (60)
13. Jordan Morris for Donnelly (76)
Source: The42 GAA/SoundCloud
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