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Meath on the cusp of return to top-flight for the first time since 2006 after overcoming Clare

Andy McEntee’s side are on the brink of promotion after their five-point win at Cusack Park.

Cillian O’Sullivan kicked three points on Sunday afternoon.
Cillian O’Sullivan kicked three points on Sunday afternoon.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Meath 1-12

Clare 1-07

Páraic McMahon reports from Cusack Park

A DRAW NEXT weekend will guarantee Meath’s return to the top tier of the Allianz National Football League for the first time since 2006.

They bagged a further two points with victory in Ennis over a Clare team that gave completely contrasting performances in each half.

Andy McEntee’s side had six shots on goal inside the first six minutes of the game, converting four of these opportunities as it took Clare seven minutes to open their account via Gavin Cooney and Eoin Cleary soon after.

These points quelled an otherwise dominant Royal outfit as the hosts 1-02 in the second quarter of the half to reduce the lead to a single point at half-time.

Andy McEntee Meath boss Andy McEntee. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Cooraclare’s Sean O’Donoghue picked up the vital goal in a move started all the way back at Eamonn Tubridy’s goal as he collected a dropping ball and pushed possession to Kevin Harnett.

Aaron Fitzgerald and Cian O’Dea also played their part in the move though it was Jamie Malone’s involvement that really paid dividends as he powered past the Meath defence before offloading to O’Donoghue.

Hopes were high among the Banner faithful at the break of claiming only their second ever win against Meath considering they would be playing with the aid of a strong breeze and their positive opening half.

However hopes quickly evaporated as they found scores very hard to come by, three Eoin Cleary frees was all they could muster as Meath came gunning for more.

Biddy Early’s curse is perhaps the most documented within Clare GAA circles but when it comes to playing Meath, Graham Reilly has always managed to inflict pain upon the Banner and this contest was no different.

Eoin Cleary Clare forward Eoin Cleary kicked five frees against Meath.. Source: Laszlo Geczo; ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The St Colmcille’s man hit a total of 0-11 in the last two years in this fixture and who else but Reilly rattle the net on fifty one minutes to make their advantage four points and put them on their way. Points from Michael Newman and Cillian O’Sullivan would follow as the visitors recorded a vital league win.

A draw will be enough for Meath to make their return to the top tier when they welcome Fermanagh to Pairc Tailteann next weekend, if Cillian O’Sullivan, Conor McGill and Thomas O’Reilly replicate their form they should do just that.

Clare can afford a draw with Tipperary provided Armagh overcome Cork to remain in this division, having performed well in the first thirty five, a solid seventy minute display is required to upset the Premier County in Thurles.

Scorers for Meath: Michael Newman (0-04 4f), Cillian O’Sullivan (0-03), Graham Reilly (1-00), Thomas O’Reilly (0-02), Ethan Devine (0-01), Darragh Campion (0-01), Barry Dardis (0-01).

Scorers for Clare: Eoin Cleary (0-05 5f), Sean O’Donoghue (1-00), Gavin Cooney (0-01), David Tubridy (0-01 1f).

Meath

1. Andrew Colgan (Donaghmore/Ashbourne)

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2. Seamus Lavin (St Peter’s Dunboyne)
3. Conor McGill (Rathoath)
7. Shane Gallagher (Sarsfields Ballerin)

5. Gavin McCoy (St Peter’s Dunboyne)
6. Donal Keogan (Rathkenny)
4. Ronan Ryan (Summerhill)

8. Bryan Menton (Donaghmore/Ashbourne)
9. Shane McEntee (St Peter’s Dunboyne)

10. Cillian O’Sullivan (Moynalvey)
23. Ethan Devine (Na Fianna)
13. Bryan McMahon (Rathoath)

12. Darragh Campion (Skyrne)
14. Michael Newman (Kilmainham)
15. Thomas O’Reilly (Wolfe Tones)

Subs

22. Barry Dardis (Summerhill) for McEntee (9) (Inj)
18. Adam Flanagan (Clonard) for Devine (HT)
20. Graham Reilly (St Colmcilles) for Campion (47)
26. Padraic Harnan (Moynalvey) for McMahon (66)
21. Eoin Lynch (Longwood) for O’Sullivan (72)

Clare

16. Eamonn Tubridy (Doonbeg)

2. Kevin Harnett (Meelick)
3. Cillian Brennan (Clondegad)
4. Gordon Kelly (St Josephs Miltown) 

7. Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora)
6. Aaron Fitzgerald (Éire Óg)
5. Dean Ryan (Na Fianna, Dublin)

8. Gary Brennan (Clondegad)
9. Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen)

23. Sean O’Donoghue (Cooraclare)
13. Eoin Cleary (St Josephs Miltown)
12. Jamie Malone (Corofin)

10. Kieran Malone (St Josephs Miltown)
14. David Tubridy (Doonbeg)
19. Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg) 

Subs:

25. Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for K Malone (47)
11. Sean Collins (Cratloe) for Ryan (61)
20. Eimhin Courtney for Tubridy (66) 
Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin)

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About the author:

Páraic McMahon

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