Meath hurlers celebrate championship return in style
Royals upset odds as they beat Kerry in Leinster SHC group game
Meath’s Sean Quigley, who scored his side’s first goal at Páirc Tailteann. Photograph: Tom Beary/Inpho
Meath 3-20 Kerry 2-17
After a 13-year absence Meath made a winning return to the Leinster SHC as they upset the odds in this qualifier group round one game at Páirc Tailteann.
The Royals had to do it the hard way though, conceding a goal after just 14 seconds and then they were forced the fight a rearguard battle in the closing stages to preserve their lead.
Shane Nolan hit that early goal for the Kingdom who operated two divisions above their opponents in this year’s league.
Despite losing captain Damien Healy to injury after 13 minutes Meath fought back and deservedly led 1-10 to 1-7 at the break.
Their goal came from a Sean Quigley sideline cut which deceived Kerry keeper Aidan McCabe on 11 minutes.
With Stephen Clynch in fine form, the hosts strengthened their grip on proceedings in the third quarter. They were boosted by a goal from substitute Kevin Keena and they eventually went nine points clear.
Kerry staged a late rally and with Shane Nolan and substitutes Michael O’Leary and Jack Goulding making a difference they gradually trimmed the deficit.
Just a goal separated the sides after Mikey Boyle found the net in added time and Meath keeper Shane McGann had to come to his side’s rescue on two occasions in the last 90 seconds as Kerry went in search of an equalising goal.
Then in the last action of the match Meath went on a counter-attack and Cathal McCabe netted to quench the Kerry revival.
MEATH: S McGann; S Whitty, D Healy, C Reilly; S Brennan, D Kelly (0-1), K Keoghan (0-1); A Forde (0-1), J Keena; S Quigley (1-3, 1-0 sideline), S Clynch (0-7, 6f), J Kelly; G McGowan (0-1), M O’Sullivan (0-2), A Gannon (0-3). Subs: S Geraghty for Healy (13 mins), K Keena (1-0) for J Kelly (45 mins), N Heffernan (0-1) for Quigley (55 mins), C McCabe (1-0) for McGowan (63 mins), P Kelly for Gannon (68 mins).
KERRY: A McCabe; R Horgan, T Murnane, S Weir; J Buckley, B Murphy (0-1), D Dineen; T Casey, P O’Connor; M Boyle (1-1), P Kelly, K Carmody; J Conway (0-1), S Nolan (1-9, 6f), P Lucid (0-1). Subs: M O’Leary (0-2) for Kelly (35 mins), J Goulding (0-1) for Casey (h-t), M O’Connor (0-1) for Carmody (47 mins), B O’Leary for Lucid (55 mins), C Harty for Conway (67 mins).
Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny)