O’Byrne Cup: Meath beat Longford on free-kicks
Westmeath will play local rivals in the final after seeing off Offaly in Mullingar semi-final
Meath’s Bryan McMahon scores despite the attempted block from Paddy Fennelly of Longford. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Meath 1-19 Longford 2-16 AET (Meath won 0-2 to 0-1 on frees)
There was a novel ending to this O’Byrne Cup semi-final as Meath advanced to the decider, two points to one on free-kicks, after extra-time failed to separate the teams.
Both teams took five frees from the 45 metre line and it was Cillian O’Sullivan’s effort that decided the issue after Mark McCabe had earlier pointed. Sean McCormack was the only one to hit the target for the midlanders.
Meath trailed by five points and led by three at one stage in normal time before letting a four point lead slip in the second period of extra-time, with Michael Quinn snatching a goal and then the equalising point right at the death.
Boosted by a goal from Robbie Smyth Longford led 1-5 to 0-4 at half-time. Meath turned it around in the second half after introducing more established players. A goal from Seán Tobin left them ahead but Robbie Smyth’s late effort sent the game to extra time.
MEATH: A Colgan; S Lavin, L Moran, M Burke; D Keogan, B Conlon (0-1), S McEntee; B Menton (0-2), A Flanagan; P Kennelly, D Toner (0-1), G Reilly; B McMahon (0-4, 0-1f), B Brennan (0-1, 1f), T O’Reilly (0-2).
Subs: B Power for Conlon, C O’Sullivan for Toner, J McEntee (0-1) for Kennelly (all h-t), S Tobin (1-2, 0-1f) for O’Reilly (50), J Wallace (0-2) for Reilly (56), D O’Neill (0-2) for Moran (70), H Rooney for McMahon (72), S Glynn for S McEntee, M McCabe (0-1) for Brennan, Toner for Keogan (all et).
LONGFORD: P Collum; P Fox, P McCormack, P Foy; M Quinn (1-1), B Gilleran, R McEntire (0-1); D Gallagher, A Farrell; B McKeon, S McCormack (0-4, 0-1f), D Reynolds (0-2); R Smyth (1-4, 0-2f), R Brady (0-2), D Mimnagh.
Subs: P Gill for Reynolds (h-t), D McElligott for Gilleran, C Barry for Gallagher (both 48), J McGivney (0-1) for McEntire (53), D Quinn (0-1) for Mimnagh, S Donohoe for Fox, M Nally for Farrell (64), Farrell for Nally, Reynolds for Gill, Gilleran for Donohoe, Gallagher for Foy, J Matthews for Brady (all et). Referee: D Sheppard (Dublin).
Westmeath 1-9 Offaly 1-7
Westmeath qualified for their first O’Byrne Cup final in 13 years with a hard-earned, but fully-deserved win over neighbours Offaly at a well-attended TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar.
The home team led by 0-3 to 0-0 when a defensive error gifted Joseph O’Connor a 13th-minute equalising goal.
Eight minutes later, a great Westmeath move ended with midfielder Denis Corroon rifling the ball low to the back of the Offaly net. Colin Kelly’s men went on to lead by an unflattering five points (1-7 to 1-2) at the interval.
The impressive Kieran Martin increased his team’s lead less than five minutes after the resumption, but the visitor’s first point from play in the 48th minute from Bernard Allen precipitated a wind-assisted Offaly comeback, including a brace of points from teenage substitute Cian Johnston.
However, Stephen Wallace’s charges never reduced the deficit to any less than two points, and a fisted score by Westmeath substitute Finbar Coyne sealed his side’s place in next Sunday’s final against another neighbouring county Meath.
WESTMEATH: E Carberry; K Daly, S Duncan, M McCallon; J Dolan, B Sayeh, N Mulligan; A Stone, D Corroon (1-1); A Gardiner, L Loughlin (0-3, two frees), N Scally; C McCormack (0-1), K Martin (0-1) J Egan (0-2).
Subs: F Coyne (0-1) for Scally (h-t), F Boyle for Stone (60 mins), G Leech for Martin (65 mins), C Slevin for Gardiner (70 mins).
OFFALY: P Dunican; D Brady, P McConway, S Pender; D Dempsey, C Donoghue, J Lalor; C McNamee, S Nally; J Hayes (0-1), A Sullivan, J O’Connor (1-0); B Allen (0-1), N Dunne (0-2, two frees).
Subs: C Johnson (0-2) for Doyle (h-t), M Brazil (0-1) for Sullivan (h-t), B O’Dea for McNamee (45 mins), A O’Sullivan for O’Connor (58 mins), S Tierney for Allen (65 mins).
Referee: D Hickey (Carlow).