Meath 0-14 Cavan 0-12
It wasn’t pretty or convincing and in the end it didn’t even matter, Meath won this but still lost out on promotion to Division One, despite finishing joint second on the table with Roscommon.
That’s because Roscommon beat Meath earlier in the league, and with that make the leap into a higher division for the second successive year. In the end it didn’t matter for Cavan, either.
There was clearly a lot at stake for both teams, although nerves or anything else hardly excused the poor standing of shooting throughout, even with the occasional exception. To their credit Meath eventually found their range with a little more consistency, Mickey Newman, Stephen Bray and Eamon Wallace hitting the best of the otherwise paltry scores in the second half.
Both teams came to Navan still in the hunt for the prize of promotion, although after some desperately poor shooting in the first half and plenty more of the same in the second, Meath just about deserved the two-point victory.
Both teams had also started out with an ear for a score, just not always the eye. The standard of shooting went from bad to worse in the first half, Cavan finishing the first 35 minutes with 11 wides, and Meath not much better with seven. Meath tagged another eight in the second half.
The points then came in a trickle. Cavan were marginally more accurate for a while, Martin Reilly their first from play - while Meath’s opening two scores were frees from Mickey Newman.
Their first from play didn’t come until the 21st minute, from corner back James McEntee, which left it Cavan 0-4 to Meath’s 0-3. Meanwhile the Cavan shooting from the likes Martin Dunne and Tomas Corr went further off target, Dunne missing one apparent sitter in front of goal.
Still, Cavan’s defensive game was holding up well - until the last five minutes of the half - when Meath suddenly broke through with three points without reply. Shane O’Rourke helped himself to two, one of which just snuck between the posts, and Newman hit a nice one from play, too.
Meath could have been celebrating even more just before the break, when O’Rourke passed off to Padraic Harnan, who had direct access to the goal, only to send his shoot puzzlingly yet somewhat suitably wide - summing up the theme of that first half.
So, with only a point in it, Meath’s 0-6 to Cavan’s 0-5, there was at least hope for improvement for all involved in the second half. It didn’t exactly happen, but the Meath victory at least game their section of the attendance of 7,650 something to cheer about, if only in the short term.
MEATH: P O'Rourke; C McGill, D Tobin, J McEntee (0-1); M Burke (0-1), D Dalton, B Power; C Gillespie, A Flanagan; G Reilly, P Harnan, M O'Sullivan; M Newman (0-6, four frees), S Bray (0-2), S O'Rourke (0-2).
Subs: B Menton (0-1) for McEntee (26 mins), J Wallace for O’Sullivan (27 mins), E Wallace (0-1) for O’Rouke (55 mins), D Carroll for Harnan (68 mins).
CAVAN: J Farrelly; J McLoughlin, K Brady, R Flanagan; J McEnroe (0-1), D O'Reilly (0-1), F Flanagan; T Corr (0-1), G McKiernan (0-1); D McVeety (0-1), R Flanagan, M Reilly (0-3, one free); C Mackey, M Dunne (0-3, two frees), B Fitzpatrick.
Subs: C Conroy for Brady (half time), M Argue for Fitzpatrick (50 mins), N Murray (0-1) for McEnroe (52 mins), T Hayes for Dunne (58 mins), J Brady for Flanagan (66 mins).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)