Meath thrash Clare but miss out on promotion to top flight

Galway win over Kildare means Cusack Park victory in vain as Clare scrape survival

Meath 3-19 Clare 1-13

Meath enjoyed the spoils of victory at Cusack Park, Ennis, yet had to swallow the bitter pill of defeat, as their promotion aspirations took a battering due to Galway’s one-point victory over already promoted Kildare at Pearse Stadium, Salthill.

Clare on the other hand, despite shipping a heavy defeat and in real danger of relegation, will remain in Division Two and avoided the drop because of results elsewhere.

This game, an opener in a football and hurling double header, was close at half time, with Meath enjoying the slenderest of leads (0-9 to 0-8) at the interval. It evolved into a rout in the second half, as the Graham Reilly-inspired visitors went on a scoring rampage. The centre-forward and team captain lead by example with his return of seven points from play was exemplary all afternoon.

The Royals had three points on the board in as many minutes at the start and lead by four when Clare opened their account in the eighth minute through Eoin Cleary. Meath dominated throughout but Clare managed to stay with them until the break, going in only one point adrift. But the second half told a different story.

Three early second half goals in a twelve minute period saw the visitors kill the contest off. Coming back after the break, they signalled their intent with a Reilly point after just twenty seconds. A goal by wing forward Cillian O’Sullivan followed minutes later.

He grabbed a second and then was involved in the third, passing to goal-scorer Brian Power at the appropriate time. The Moynalvey club-man could have gone for a hat-trick of goals but unselfishly allowed Power to finish it off. Clare did manage a consolation goal in injury time, when their top-scorer Eoin Cleary rifled the Meath net at the death.

Meath: P O'Rourke, D Keogh, C McGill, D Tobin, P Harnan, B Power, S McEntee, B Menton, J Toher, C O'Sullivan, G Reilly (Capt.), E Wallace, B McMahon, S Tobin, D Lenihan. Subs: J McEntee for S Tobin (44), J Wallace for Lenihan (48), R Ó Coileáin for Reilly (55), M Burke for S McEntee (58), W Carry for McMahon (65). Scorers: G Reilly (0-7), C O'Sullivan (2-0), B Power (1-0), B McMahon (0-2), J Toher (0-2) 1 f, 1'45, P Harnan (0-2), E Wallace (0-2), S Tobin, D Lenihan, J Wallace, J McEntee (0-1).

Clare: Joe Hayes, M McMahon, K Harnett, D Ryan, L Markham, G Kelly, John Hayes, C Russell, S Brennan, J Malone, E Cleary, C O'Connor, K Sexton, D Tubridy, C O'Dea. Subs: E Collins for Markham (44), D Egan for Tubridy ((53), S Malone for Sexton (55), M O'Neill for O'Dea (57), D Nagle for Harnett ((61), D Bohannon for Russell inj. (68). Scorers: E Cleary (1-6) 0-4 f's, J Malone (0-2), C Russell, C O'Connor, K Sexton, D Tubridy '45, John Hayes (0-1) each.

Referee: J Hickey (Carlow)