Group 2 Meath 1-11 Down 1-9
There was more than a hint of deja vu about Meath’s 1-11 to 1-9 Tailteann Cup win over Down at Parnell Park, which secured top spot in Group 2 and a home quarter-final fixture for the Royals.
Stoppage time points from substitutes Daithi McGowan and Donal Lenihan nudged Meath to victory, and while it wasn’t quite revenge for 1991, it was sweet nonetheless for manager Colm O’Rourke.
A much younger O’Rourke memorably climbed off his sick bed in that All-Ireland final 32 years ago and almost inspired a win, his team eventually losing out by two points.
They trailed Down by two again in this Tailteann Cup fixture with under 20 minutes remaining following Odhran Murdock’s goal for the Mourne.
But this time Down couldn’t push on for what would have been a significant win, failing to score again from play.
Meath, meanwhile, did what they couldn’t under Sean Boylan over three decades ago, twice drawing level before nailing those 73rd and 78th minute insurance scores.
Jordan Morris was Meath’s key man overall with 1-3. though Down will kick themselves for the 16 wides they blasted – 10 of which came in the second-half.
“They could have put us away,” acknowledged O’Rourke. “But we hung in and I thought a bit of Meath traditional grit from the past came into play in the last 10 minutes. It was wonderful to see and I think it will do a lot for this team.”
Meath have a fortnight until their quarter-final, though Down will be out next weekend in the preliminary quarter-finals. They may yet be joined in tomorrow evening’s draw by Tipperary, who beat Waterford 0-17 to 1-13 to take third spot in the table.
That draw will include all of the teams that finish second in their group, the best three third placed teams and New York.
Tipp led 0-10 to 1-4 at half-time but just about overcame a second-half revival from a Waterford side inspired by Conor Murray, who struck 1-3.
Meanwhile, Cavan finished their Group 1 campaign with a perfect record after hammering Offaly 2-25 to 2-9. It means they advance to a home quarter-final as group winners while Offaly, in second place, will have a home preliminary quarter-final.
Brandon Boylan struck 2-2 for Cavan who were aided by final quarter red cards for Offaly duo Dylan Hyland and Jack McEvoy.
Laois secured third position in Group 1, and a preliminary quarter-final place, though won’t be particularly happy with their 1-17 to 2-14 draw with London. Leading 0-11 to 0-5 at half-time, they ultimately required 72nd and 74th minute points from Paul Kingston and Niall Corbett to draw.