Emma Duffy reports from Croke Park
THEY SAY GOALS win games, and Tyrone proved just that as they were crowned 2018 TG4 All-Ireland intermediate champions in Croke Park.
The Red Hand were classy and sharp as they went about their business against Meath, making amends for their 2017 decider defeat to Tipperary.
Gerry Moane’s side, inspired by captain and Player of the Match Neamh Woods, fired six goals courtesy of five different players.
Woods finished with two herself, while Gráinne Rafferty, Niamh Hughes, Gemma Begley and Niamh O’Neill also found the back of the net to see them lift the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup and confirm their senior status for 2019.
An eight-minute period early in the first half where they scored 3-1 set them on their way and left Meath, who never gave up, chasing for the remainder of the game.
The scoreline comes as a harsh reflection on the Royal county though, for whom Stacey Grimes was one shining light throughout, finishing with 1-5.
They drew first blood through skipper Niamh O’Sullivan but with just six minutes on the clock, Woods palmed the ball into Hill 16 to finish a superb Tyrone team goal and set the tone.
Hughes struck the next fatal blow before Rafferty then rattled the net with 14 minutes gone to make it 3-1 to 0-1.
Grimes, both from frees and play, was pivotal in the fight back while Fiona O’Neill added on extras and Meath had reduced the deficit to four shortly before half time, but substitute O’Neill’s goal with 29 minutes on the clock ensured Tyrone went in 4-3 to 0-7 leaders at the break.
On the restart, the picked up right where they left off. Begley rattled the net before O’Neill fired three impressive points from play to keep the momentum going.
Vikki Wall, Megan Thynne and Grimes tagged on scores for Meath to keep their hopes alive but both teams were soon reduced to 14 players with Máire O’Shaughnessy and O’Neill shown yellow cards.
Meath looked for another rally but at this stage, the gap was too much and Begley just extended that with another goal.
Grimes expertly slotted a late penalty but it was too little too late, and Tyrone held on to run out nine-point winners.
Scorers for Meath: Stacey Grimes (1-5, 3f), Niamh O’Sullivan (0-2), Fiona O’Neill (0-2), Vikki Wall (0-1), Megan Thynne (0-1), Kate Byrne (0-2), Emma White (0-1)
Scorers for Tyrone: Neamh Woods (2-0), Gráinne Rafferty (1-2), Niamh Hughes (1-0), Chloe McCaffrey (0-2), Gemma Begley (1-1, 1f), Niamh O’Neill (1-3)
1. Monica McGuirk (Duleek/Bellewstown)
2. Orlaith Duff (Dee Rangers)
3. Orlagh Lally (Clann na nGael)
4. Katie Newe (Ratoath)
5. Niamh Gallogly (Royal Gaels)
6. Shauna Ennis (Na Fianna)
7. Megan Thynne (Dunsany)
8. Máire O’Shaughnessy (Donaghmore/Ashbourne)
9. Kate Byrne (Duleek/Bellewstown)
10. Aoibhin Cleary (Donaghmore/Ashbourne)
11. Vikki Wall (Dunboyne)
12. Stacey Grimes (Seneschalstown)
13. Marion Farrelly (St Michaels)
14. Niamh O’Sullivan (Royal Gaels)
15. Fiona O’Neill (Dunboyne)
25. Sarah Wall (Dunboyne) for Aoibhin Cleary (10)
20. Aoibheann Leahy for Niamh Gallogly (36)
21. Emma White for Fiona O’Neill (45)
17. Bláthnaid Kehoe for Shauna Ennis (52)
28. Sarah Powderly for Kate Byrne (52)
1. Shannon Lynch (Mna Na Deirge)
2. Niamh McGirr (St Macartan’s)
3. Joanne Barrett (Drumragh)
4. Caoileann Coway (Sperrin Óg)
5. Sláine McCarroll (St Macartan’s)
6. Emma Mulgrew (Cill Iseal)
7. Emma Brennan (Trillick)
8. Neamh Woods (Drumragh)
9. Emma Jane Gervin (Aodh Ruadh)
10. Áine Canavan (Errigal Ciaran)
11. Lyceria Quinn (Errigan Ciaran)
12. Niamh Hughes (Aodh Ruadh)
13. Gráinne Rafferty (Cill Iseal)
14. Gemma Begley (An Charraig Mhór)
15. Chloe McCafferty (St Macartan’s)
27. Niamh O’Neill (Sperrin Óg) for Áine Canavan (12)
17. Maria Canavan for Lyceria Quinn (43)
19. Emma Hegarty for Chloe McCaffrey (51)
20. Christiane Hunter for Joanne Barrett (55)
21. Caitlin Kelly for Gemma Begley (58)
Referee: Gerry Carmody (Roscommon)
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