Eoghan Frayne finished with 0-3 in an important win for the Royals. James Crombie/INPHO
Division 2

Meath fire four unanswered points to leave winless Kildare staring relegation in the face

Meath came from behind in the second half to grind out a 0-12 to 0-9 win.

Meath 0-12

Kildare 0-9

Paul Keane reports from Páirc Tailteann

A LATE FOUR-in-a-row of points sealed a significant Division 2 win for Meath, probably securing the Royal County’s status for another season and dumping Kildare further into the relegation battle.

For the second Sunday running, hosts Meath came from behind in the second half at Páirc Tailteann to mine out a crucial win.

Cathal Hickey, Mathew Costello and substitutes Ruairi Kinsella and Aaron Lynch grabbed those points as Kildare, leading by 0-9 to 0-8 after 52 minutes, failed to score again.

Shane Walsh came into the game strongly in the closing stages for Meath too, forcing a turnover that led to the Kinsella point and winning a free that Costello converted.

The Tailteann Cup champions now have five points on the board, the same tally that kept them up last year, though they still have three games to go against Cavan, Cork and Donegal.

But it’s panic stations for Kildare whose fourth straight defeat leaves them staring relegation to Division 3 in the face.

Worse still, they lost key forwards Darragh Kirwan, Ben McCormack and Barry Kelly to fresh injuries.

glenn-ryan Glenn Ryan and Kildare have a mountain to climb. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

The initial challenge for Meath was to hit the ground running and repeat their second-half performance of a week earlier against Louth at the same venue.

They came from four points down in the third quarter of that game to win by two, reeling off 1-6 without response and holding Louth scoreless for a 33-minute spell.

They needed just 14 seconds this time to open the scoring through Eoghan Frayne though while they led for the majority of the first-half they were still only 0-6 to 0-5 up at half-time.

It was a cagey affair with six score attempts dropped short between the two teams in the opening 35 minutes or so.

Kildare were more wasteful, accounting for four of those point attempts that dropped short, despite playing with the stiff wind behind them.

McCormack was the best of their forwards and sniped three first-half points from play, the pick of them a beauty from out on the right wing approaching the interval.

Goalkeeper Mark Donnellan boomed a huge score from a long-range free too and Kevin Feely got their other point.

Donnellan was involved in a talking point in the 15th minute when he leaped high to catch Sean Brennan’s kick from a free. It was ruled that he caught the ball behind his crossbar and that a point had already been registered.

Meath’s tactic when attacking was to keep a man on either touchline, creating space around the scoring zone and allowing those players to then come running in hard as a support runner.

Costello twice came bombing in off the right wing, winning a free that Frayne converted and later creating a goal chance that came to nought due to over-carrying.

barry-kelly-and-cathal-hickey Kildare’s Barry Kelly challenges Cathal Hickey of Meath. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Both sides could have struck first-half goals though their goalkeepers came to their rescue.

Walsh drew a brilliant diving save from Donnellan in the 13th minute while quick thinking from Kevin Feely at the other end released Alex Beirne for a shot on goal that was tipped away by Meath ‘keeper Sean Brennan in the 26th minute.

Kildare made three changes to their lineup following the Armagh defeat, drafting in Ryan Houlihan and Daniel Flynn while Ryan Burke replaced the suspended Kevin O’Callaghan at midfield.

They lost key attacker Kirwan at the end of the first quarter following an apparent aggravation of a hamstring injury. Meath, meanwhile, who handed Brian O’Halloran a first National League start, lost centre-back Darragh Campion to a 32nd minute black card.

There was a further blow for Kildare when McCormack was taken off at half-time having received treatment for a couple of knocks in the opening half.

Losing Kelly to injury in the 44th minute was a further blow to Kildare but they suddenly summoned their best form, reeling off three points in a row between the 47th and 52nd minutes to take a 0-9 to 0-8 lead.

Beirne, Niall Kelly and Doyle struck those scores as Kildare, like Meath earlier, played their best against the breeze.

Unfortunately for Kildare, they didn’t score again after Doyle’s 52nd minute point as Meath rose superbly to the occasion.

Scorers for Meath: Eoghan Frayne 0-3 (0-1f, 0-1m), Sean Brennan 0-2 (0-1f, 0-1 45), Mathew Costello 0-2 (0-2f), Ronan Jones 0-1, Darragh Campion 0-1, Cathal Hickey 0-1, Ruairi Kinsella 0-1, Aaron Lynch 0-1.

Scorers for Kildare: Ben McCormack 0-3, Kevin Feely 0-2 (0-2f), Mark Donnellan 0-1 (0-1f), Alex Beirne 0-1, Niall Kelly 0-1, Eoin Doyle 0-1


  • 1. Sean Brennan (Dunderry)
  • 18. Brian O’Halloran (Ballivor), 3. Adam O’Neill (Wolfe Tones), 2. Donal Keogan (Rathkenny)
  • 5. Ciaran Caulfield (Trim), 6. Darragh Campion (Skryne), 7. Sean Coffey (Ballinabrackey)
  • 10. Daithi McGowan (Ratoath) ,9. Cian McBride (St Ultan’s)
  • 8. Ronan Jones (St Peter’s, Dunboyne), 12. Jack O’Connor (Curraha), 15. Cathal Hickey (Seneschalstown)
  • 11. Eoghan Frayne (Summerhill), 14. Mathew Costello (Dunshaughlin), 13. Shane Walsh (Na Fianna)

Substitutes: 25. Danny Dixon (Boardsmill) for McBride (h/t); 21. Ruairi Kinsella (Dunshaughlin) for O’Connor (54); 24. Aaron Lynch (Trim) for McGowan (59); 4. Michael Murphy (St Peter’s, Dunboyne) for Coffey (68); 19. Adam McDonnell (Summerhill) for Frayne (73).


  • 1. Mark Donnellan (Maynooth)
  • 2. Ryan Houlihan (Moorefield), 3. Mick O’Grady (Celbridge), 17. Ryan Burke (Caragh)
  • 5. Jack Sargent (Eadestown), 4. Eoin Doyle (Naas), 7. Paddy McDermott (Naas)
  • 6. Kevin Flynn (Celbridge), 8. Aaron Masterson (Moorefield)
  • 10. Barry Kelly (Athy), 11. Ben McCormack (Sarsfields), 12. Alex Beirne (Naas)
  • 13. Darragh Kirwan (Naas), 14. Kevin Feely (Athy), 15. Daniel Flynn (Johnstownbridge)

Substitutes: 22. Niall Kelly (Athy) for Kirwan (15); 20. Shane Farrell (Kilcock) for McCormack (h/t); 26. Paddy Woodgate (Raheens) for Barry Kelly (44); 25. Shea Ryan (Sarsfields) for Doyle (64).

Referee: Seamus Mulhare (Laois).

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