Meath 0-14 Sligo 1-9
Experienced attacker Mickey Newman timed his return to action to perfection with two late points that inspired an important Round 2A qualifier win for Meath against Sligo in Navan.
Andy McEntee’s side trailed by a point with just three minutes of normal time remaining and were in danger of slipping to their seventh consecutive defeat in the qualifiers.
Newman’s introduction following a long-term ankle injury inspired the team though and his first point, from a free, tied the scores before adding a second that put them ahead.
It was the first time that Meath had been in front since the 25th minute and they duly held on, adding two more injury-time points from Seán Tobin.
Sligo, trailing by three points with 76 minutes played, still almost took the game to extra-time but substitute David Kelly’s goal attempt was cleared off the line and his follow up flew over.
It was a thrilling end to what was, in truth, a dour game, though victory and progression to Round 3A was all that mattered for a Meath side still reeling from their heavy defeat to Kildare in Leinster.
The hosts were noticeably more defensive, though they conceded a 30th minute goal to Sligo’s Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch, which separated the sides at the break, 1-6 to 0-6.
Meath used the wind to fight back to level terms at 1-7 to 0-10 but a Neil Ewing point put Sligo ahead again and it required that late Meath surge to secure the win.
Sligo lost experienced half back Brendan Egan to a 58th-minute black card for dragging Graham Reilly down and Meath were further boosted by Newman's return shortly after.
MEATH: P O'Rourke; D Keogan, C McGill, M Burke; P Harnan, B Power, S McEntee (0-1); B Menton, R Jones (0-1); J McEntee (0-1), C O'Sullivan (0-1), G Reilly (0-2); R O Coileain, S Tobin (0-3, one 45), D Lenihan (0-3, three frees).
Subs: J Toher for Jones (15 mins), B Conlon for Power (h/t), T O'Reilly for J McEntee (57 mins), M Newman (0-2, two frees) for Lenihan (61 mins), D Tobin for Harnan (65 mins), E Wallace for O'Sullivan (75 mins).
SLIGO: A Devaney; R Donavan, C Harrison, K Cawley; G O'Kelly-Lynch (1-1), B Egan, N Ewing (0-1); A McIntyre, P O'Connor; J Kelly, M Breheny, N Murphy (0-1); S Coen, P Hughes (0-1), A Marren (0-4, three frees, one 45).
Subs: N Gaughan for Harrison (47 mins), K Cawley for Kelly (48 mins), K McDonnell for Breheny (54 mins), D Kelly (0-1) for Egan (58 mins, black card), S Gilmartin for McIntyre (67 mins), C Davey for O'Connor (72 mins).
Referee: N Mooney (Cavan).