Louth end 49-year drought with convincing victory over Meath

Three first-half goals put Ger Brennan’s side in control of affairs in Inniskeen

All-Ireland SFC Round 1: Louth 3-10 Meath 0-9

Three first-half goals helped end a 49-year drought as Louth took a major step towards the knock-out stages of the All-Ireland SFC following this resounding Group 4 victory over Meath in Inniskeen on Saturday.

The Wee County hadn’t defeated their neighbours since the 1975 Leinster campaign, shortly after the Royals had been crowned NFL champions with victory over then All-Ireland champions Dublin. Louth lost all 10 championship meetings since but they took up from where they had left off following their narrow defeat to Dublin in the Leinster final with a dominant display which completely overwhelmed an abject Meath.

Colm O’Rourke’s side led 0-3 to 0-1 after nine minutes but Louth were always in the ascendancy after Sam Mulroy took a pass from Conall McKeever for a cracking goal on 14 minutes.

That left Louth leading 1-2 to 0-3 and they struck for a second goal after outstanding wing back Craig Lennon waltzed past a couple of defenders and finished to the net on 18 minutes.


Lennon struck again after pouncing on a rebound effort off a post from Mulroy for an easy finish to the net to leave his side leading 3-3 to 0-4. It left Ger Brennan’s side in a commanding position and Meath never threatened a revival as a much hungrier and focused Louth controlled proceedings as they defended in packs and easily thwarted anything their opponents could throw at them.

Vice-captain Mathew Costello lined out in the Meath attack despite the death of his father Paul a few hours before the throw-in. It left a sombre mood in the Meath camp and apart from the opening 10 minutes during which they scored three of the first four points they were always struggling to produce a display that would have kept them within striking distance.

Those three goals separated the teams at the break, 3-5 to 0-5, with full forward Mulroy converting three frees to add to his goal. Man of the match Craig Lennon recovered from an early knock to addto his brace of goals with a point while Bevan Duffy completed Louth’s tally in that opening half.

Costello, Seán Coffey, Ronan Jones, Cathal Hickey and Cillian O’Sullivan (mark) contributed Meath’s opening half tally.

Meath introduced Conor Gray and Brian O’Halloran at the start of the second half but Louth continued to dominate, even when they lost Duffy to a black card on 38 minutes. They added the only score during that spell from another free courtesy of Mulroy.

Mulroy who finished with 1-6, Ciarán Keenan and Ciarán Downey kept the scoreboard ticking over for Louth as Meath seemed to grow more frustrated the longer the game progressed and relatively simple efforts for scores went wide of the target.

LOUTH: N McDonnell; D Corcoran, P Lynch, D McKenny; N Sharkey, A Williams, C Lennon (2-1); T Durnin, C Grimes; C Keenan (0-1), C Downey (0-1), C McKeever; R Burns, S Mulroy (1-6, 0-6f), B Duffy (0-1).

Subs: C Byrne for Duffy (54 mins); L Grey for Lennon (60); P Mathews for Burns (63); C Early for Keenan (67); D Campbell for Corcoran (71).

MEATH: B Hogan; D Keogan, A O’Neill, R Ryan; H O’Higgins, D Campion, S Coffey (0-1); R Jones (0-1), C McBride; C Caulfield (0-1), C O’Sullivan (0-1, m), C Hickey (0-1); E Frayne (0-3, 0-2f), M Costello (0-1), J Conlon.

Subs: B O’Halloran for O’Higgins, C Gray for McBride (both h-t); J O’Connor for O’Sullivan, J Morris for Conlon (both 45 mins); M Murphy for Coffey (55).

Referee: P Faloon (Down).