Roscommon brush past Meath with promotion now on the radar

Cregg and Senan Kilbride goals prove crucial as Meath welcome back Kevin Reilly

John Evans’ Roscommon team have secured Division two survival and with two games remaining it’s now all about survival. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

John Evans’ Roscommon team have secured Division two survival and with two games remaining it’s now all about survival. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

Roscommon 2-10 Meath 0-14

Second-half goals from Cathal Cregg and Senan Kilbride clinched a crucial win for Roscommon over promotion rivals Meath after a tense Division Two encounter at Dr Hyde Park.

The victory sends Roscommon second in the table and puts them on the front foot in their battle for promotion with just two games remaining.

Meath manager Mick O’Dowd was highly critical of referee Anthony Nolan, who awarded 58 frees during the match.

Admitting that he was “devastated” by the result O’Dowd said he was “raging” about some of the referee’s decisions.

“I am raging about some of the decisions given against us today. I haven’t given out about referees in the last three years but the referee today missed a blatant 45.”

There were equal groans from both teams regarding the referee’s showing yet O’Dowd took specific exception following the two point defeat.

“Donncha Tobin got a black card and then the same thing happened at the other end and there wasn’t a black card. It’s not acceptable, do officials not realise the effort players put in?”

Meath looked in a strong position at half-time when they led by one point after a cagey, dour opening 35 minutes in which both teams squandered numerous scoreable chances.

The standard improved after the interval and the Royal County quickly extended their lead to three with points from Kevin Reilly and Mark O’Sullivan. However, the Rossies gradually got on top at midfield where Cathal Shine became the dominant figure.

Nine minutes later the home team hit the front when the excellent Neil Collins managed to squeeze the ball across the small square despite being surrounded by three defenders and the lurking Cregg lashed the ball to the net from close range.

Diarmuid Murtagh followed up with a point from a free but two frees from Meath’s top-scorer Michael Newman left just a point between the teams again after 53 minutes.

Murtagh scored from play after being set up by Daly and in the 56th minute Kilbride pounced on a short kick-out by Patrick O’Rourke, surged towards goal and found the net with a composed low finish.

However, the Rossies would score just once more as they became more defensive and tentative in their play. Points from Newman and Wallace reduced the gap to three. Donie Shine and Newman exchanged points and the only score in the last 10 minutes was a point from a free by Newman.

Roscommon manager John Evans acknowledged that second place in the table was “a nice place to be” but said his team hadn’t considered the prospect of promotion before this.

“You can’t talk about promotion until after the fifth round. We knew that if we stopped Meath getting goals and we got one ourselves, we’d have a chance,” he said.

ROSCOMMON: D O’Malley (0-1, 45); S McDermott, N Collins, D Murray; D Keenan, Carty, N Daly; C Shine, M Healy (0-1); C Daly, C Murtagh (0-1, free), C Cafferky; D. Murtagh (0-4, two frees), S. Kilbride (1-0), C Cregg (1-1). Subs: E Smith for C Murtagh (34 mins), D Shine (0-2, one free) for Healy (34 mins), C Compton for D Murtagh (65 mins), D Ward for Cregg (70 mins)

MEATH: P. O’Rourke; D. Tobin, C. McGill, D. Dalton; M. Burke, D. Keoghan, B. Power; B. Menton, A. Flanagan; G. Reilly (0-2), P. Harnan (0-1), K. Reilly (0-1); D. Bray (0-1, free), M. O’Sullivan (0-1), M. Newman (0-7, six frees). Subs: N. Judge for Tobin (black card) (20 mins), J McEntee for Dalton (half-time), S. O’Rourke for Bray (47 mins), E. Wallace (0-1) for O’Sullivan (52 mins), C. Gillespie for Menton (56 mins), B McMahon for McGill (70 mins).

Referee: A. Nolan (Wicklow).

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