Meath’s strong finish sees them past Kildare
Mick O’Dowd’s side recover from being four points down early in the second half
Graham Reilly: the Meath man received an early black card against Kildare. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Meath 0-13 Kildare 0-11
For the second successive week Kildare fell short of the winning post as Meath reaffirmed themselves the second best team in Leinster at Páirc Tailteann on Saturday.
Kildare led by four points early in the second half but couldn’t shake off their tenacious opponents and they eventually ran out of ideas as the hosts finished strongly to claim a merited win.
Victory was important for both counties who were reeling from defeats in their opening games of the campaign.
Meath suffered an early loss when Graham Reilly was shown a black card for a foul on Eoin Doyle inside 10 minutes. The hosts found it difficult to make headway against Jason Ryan’s side who had 14 men behind the ball at times.
Kildare attacked in waves and were not flattered by their 0-7 to 0-4 interval lead. Midfielder Pádraig O’Neill and full forward Fionn Dowling both notched a brace of points while Darroch Mulhall also caused the Meath rearguard plenty of headaches.
Mickey Newman converted two frees for the Meath men in that period but his finishing was erratic at times as was ’keeper Paddy O’Rourke who also knocked a couple of placed balls wide of the target. The home side coughed up possession far too easily while they also tallied six wides in the half.
Mullhall increased the Kildare lead within four minutes of the restart and when the same player pointed a free it left it 0-9 to 0-5 on 42 minutes.
Meath responded well and the lively Andrew Tormey pointed from play and substitute Seán Tobin and O’Rourke both converted frees to bring the home side within a point entering the final quarter.
Corner back Mick O’Grady brought Kildare some respite with a timely score but the Meath men were gathering momentum by that stage and Stephen Bray pointed from play before Tormey drew the sides level from a free on 62 minutes.
Michael Newman then pointed Meath ahead for the first time since the early stages but almost immediately Eoghan O’Flaherty restored parity from another free.It was no place for the faint hearted at that stage as Meath edged ahead again with the best score of the match. The move was started by O’Rourke who found Tobin who in turn off-loaded to Bray and he played the ball into the path of Tormey who shot between the posts without breaking stride.
Kildare had seven minutes to force an equaliser but Meath tightened their grip on proceedings and midfielder Adam Flanagan hit the insurance score on the stroke of full-time.
MEATH: P O’Rourke (0-1 one free); C McGill, D Tobin, D Keogan; M Burke, D Dalton, B Menton (0-1); H Rooney, A Flanagan (0-1); G Reilly, P Harnan, A Tormey (0-4, one free); J Wallace, S Bray (0-1), M Newman (0-3, two frees). Subs: S Tobin (0-2, two frees) for (BC Reilly 8 mins), D Bray for Wallace (35 mins), B Power for Harnan (55 mins), E Wallace for D Bray (69 mins).
KILDARE: M Donnellan; C Fitzpatrick, P Kelly, M O’Grady (0-1); O Lyons, D O’Brien, E Doyle; G White, P O’Neill (0-2); E Callaghan, K Cribbin (0-1), E O’Flaherty (0-1, one free); D Mulhall (0-4, three frees), F Dowling (0-2), P Fogarty. Subs: N Kelly for Dowling (52 mins), T O’Connor for Fogarty (62 mins), F Conway for Fitzpatrick (66 mins).
Referee: C Branagan (Down).