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Inspirational skipper Reilly leads way as Meath survive Louth scare

Royals captain kicks seven points from play as Andy McEntee’s charges advance to the Leinster semi-finals.

Louth's Bevan Duffy (left) and Jim McEneaney with Graham Reilly of Meath.
Louth's Bevan Duffy (left) and Jim McEneaney with Graham Reilly of Meath.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Louth 3-9 Meath 0-27

GRAHAM REILLY PRODUCED an inspirational captain’s performance as Meath survived a scare in their Leinster SFC quarter-final against bitter rivals Louth in Parnell Park this afternoon.

The Wee County have been on the rise under manager Colin Kelly, achieving back-to-back league promotions, but they couldn’t deny Andy McEntee a victory in his first championship game in charge.

Reilly finished the game with seven points from play, as well as regularly setting up his fellow forwards, as he helped his side to a comfortable win following a sticky spell early in the second half.

With Reilly and late inclusion James Toher prominent in the Royal attack, Meath found themselves 0-5 to 0-2 ahead after 20 minutes.

Louth stayed in touch through Ryan Burns (free) and Anthony Williams while Meath goalkeeper Paddy O’Rourke also did well to deny Pauric Smith on 20 minutes.

The Wee County didn’t have to wait long to find the net however, Jim McEneaney burying a penalty 10 minutes later to level matters at 1-5 to 0-8 after Williams was fouled.

A brace of points from Donal Lenihan (one free) eased the favourites ahead once again before Bevan Duffy reduced to margin to the minimum on the stroke of half-time, making it 0-10 to 1-6.

Louth began the second period in emphatic fashion and they appeared to have their neighbours on the ropes —  an uncharacteristic kick-out error from O’Rourke allowing substitute Ronan Holcroft to find the net.

A brace of points from Donal Lenihan (one free) eased the favourites ahead once again before Bevan Duffy reduced to margin to the minimum on the stroke of half-time, 0-10 to 1-6.

Louth began the second period in emphatic fashion and they appeared to have their neighbours on the ropes when an uncharacteristic kick-out error from O’Rourke allowed Ronan Holcroft to find the net.

Kelly then introduced Califf to the action and he made an immediate impact, tagging on three quick-fire points as Louth hit their straps and looked well capable claiming a first championship win against Meath since 1975.

However, Reilly, Toher and Donal Lenihan continued to keep the umpires busy at the Louth end, easing the pressure on McEntee’s charges.

McEntee also introduced Thomas Reilly, Ruairí Ó Coileáin and Sean Tobin off the bench and all three got their names on the scoresheet.

And while Conal McKeever gave Louth a glimmer of hope on 55 minutes with their third goal, the free-scoring Royals powered on to a Leinster semi-final against Kildare on 17 June with a nine-point victory.

Liam Dullaghan and James Toher Louth's Liam Dullaghan and Ronan Jones of Meath. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Scorers for Louth: J McEneaney 1-2 (1-0 pen); R Holcroft, C McKeever 1-0 each; J Califf 0-3 (1f); R Burns (2f) 0-2; A Williams, B Duffy 0-1 each.

Scorers for Meath: G Reilly 0-7; D Lenihan (2f, ’45) 0-6; J Toher (3f) 0-5;  B McMahon, T Reilly, R Ó Coileáin 0-2 each; C O’Sullivan, R Jones, S Tobin 0-1 each.

Meath

1. Paddy O’Rourke (Skryne)

2. Mickey Burke (Longwood)
3. Conor McGill (Ratoath)
4. Donnacha Tobin (Blackhall Gaels)

5. Padraic Harnan (Moynalvey)
6. Donal Keogan (Rathkenny)
7. Shane McEntee (Dunboyne)

8. Bryan Menton (Donaghmore/Ashbourne)
9. Ronan Jones (Dunboyne)

17. James Toher (Trim)
11. Cillian O’Sullivan (Moynalvey)
12. Eamon Wallace (Ratoath)

13. Graham Reilly (St Colmcille’s) (c)
14. Bryan McMahon (Ratoath)
15. Donal Lenihan (Dunboyne)

Subs
19. Ruairí Ó Coileáin (Navan O’Mahony’s) for S McEntee (50)
21. Thomas Reilly (Wolfe Tones) for McMahon (60)
23. Sean Tobin (Simonstown Gaels) for Wallace (68)
24. David McQuillan (St Patrick’s) for McGill (32) – black card

Louth

1. Craig Lynch (Naomh Mairtín)

2. Padraig Rath (Dreadnots)
3. Patrick Reilly (St Brides)
4. Kevin Carr (Newtown Blues)

18. Liam Dullaghan (Sean O’Mahony’s)
6. John Bingham (Naomh Mhuire)
24. Declan Byrne (St Mochta’s)

8. Tommy Durnin (Westerns)
9. James Stewart (Dundalk Gaels)

10. Anthony Williams (Dreadnots)
11. Pauric Smith (Dreadnots)
12. Bevan Duffy (St Fechin’s)

25. Jim McEneaney (Geraldines)
14. Eoin O’Connor (St Patrick’s)
15. Ryan Burns (Hunterstown Rovers)

Subs
5. Conal McKeever (Clan na Gael) for Dullaghan (36)
13. Ruairi Moore (O’Raghallaighs) for Smith (69)
17. Kurt Murphy (Sean O’Mahony’s) for Rath (20)
20. Andy McDonnell (Newtown Blues) for Byrne (25)
22. Ronan Holcroft (St Fechin’s) for Carr (27) – black card
26. James Califf (Clogherhead) for Durnin (40)

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