Luke Mitchell kicks eight points as Meath take Leinster MFC title
Kildare goalkeeper John Ball puts in outstanding performance in defeat
Meath’s Bryan McCormack scores a goal during the Leinster MFC Final at O’Connor Park in Tullamore. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Meath 1-15 Kildare 1-7
Luke Mitchell kicked eight points as Meath won the Leinster MFC title in effortless fashion at O’Connor Park in Tullamore.
Meath had the benefit the wind in the first half and made it count, leading 0-7 to 0-1 at the end of the opening quarter, with all the forwards getting on the scoresheet early.
It wasn’t that Kildare didn’t have their share of the ball but their use of it was poor, and in stark contrast to their opponents their front men were having no impact. Some credit for that should go to the Meath defence, in which James O’Hare excelled.
Kildare manager Pádraig Carbury was moved to take off two of his forwards before half-time and used the interval to replace two defenders.
Mitchell kicked five points, including a brace from play, and David Bell a pair as the Royals established an 11-3 lead at the change of ends.
Lilywhite captain Alex Beirne did send over a towering score but like everything Kildare did in the opposition half, it was an individual effort rather than collective.
Carbury would have hoped for a quick start from his charges with the benefit of the breeze, but instead their hopes were shredded within eight minutes of the restart.
Kildare goalie John Ball, whose heroics had gotten his side over the line in the replayed semi-final against Wicklow, made an outstanding double save from Matthew Costello in the 37th minute and then another excellent stop from Darragh Swaine moments later.
But the Clane custodian could do nothing to deny Bryan McCormack a minute later, after Costello had found his colleague with a peach of a kick pass.
It was a stroll from there to the end, with the highlight being a spectacular triple save by Ball to deny Meath a second goal before Marcus Kiely struck for a Kildare consolation goal in the game’s final act.
MEATH: S Brennan; J O’Hare, H O’Higgins, C Hickey; C Farrelly, C Harford, S Coffey; A Reilly, C McBride; D Swaine (0-1), M Costello (0-2), B McCormack (1-1); D Bell (0-2), L Kelly (0-1), L Mitchell (0-8, six frees).
Subs: O McCloskey for Harford inj (46 mins), C Hawdon for McCormack (49), A Treanor for Swaine (55), B O’Hanlon for Bell (55), L Newe for Hickey (56), K Hogan for Reilly (60)
KILDARE: J Ball; J Lynch, S Hill, J Hamill; N Jackman, K Kelleher, P McDermott; L Broderick, M Kiely (1-1); S Morrissey (0-1, free), A Beirne (0-1), M McGovern; E O’Haire, A Kennedy, J Smyth (0-2, two frees).
Subs: P Behan (0-1) for O’Haire (23 mins), M Curtin (0-1)for Morrissey (28), D Caulfield for Jackman (ht), O O’Loughlin for Hill (ht), D Costello for Beirne (38), S Englishby for McGovern (45).
Referee: D Sheppard (Dublin)