Meath under-21s pip Laois


REIGNING Leinster champions, Meath looked like surrendering their Leinster under-21 football title at the quarter-final stage of this season's competition when they trailed Laois by two points at half-time in Portlaoise yesterday.

However, a fine second half display ensured that the Royal County advanced to this year's semi-final by 1-10 to 0-12.

Laois led 0-5 to 0-3 at halftime, but the opening 10 minutes of the second half saw Meath really turn up the heat and they hit five unanswered points to take the lead for the first time in the game. Then, in a five-minute spell, Laois hit back for three excellent points to leave the sides level after 41 minutes.

Laois regained the lead with an excellent point by centre half-forward Ian Fitzgerald after 47 minutes. The sides were level with 10 minutes remaining when Kenneth Russell kicked an excellent point for the visitors.

With five minutes remaining Meath won a penalty which Ray McGee sent to the Laois net. Laois fought back in the closing minutes and sharp-shooter Chris Conway sent over two great points. Laois centre forward Ian Fitzgerald had a chance to level the game with a close-in free from an awkward angle on the call of time. However, to the disappointment of a huge Laois following the ball went wide and Meath held on.

Westmeath were ahead 2-10 to 0-3 at half-time in their quarter-final at Mullingar. They easily brushed aside the challenge of Wicklow in a high-scoring game, winning 2-17 to 1-9.

The winners played some scintillating football in the opening quarter as they ran their opponents ragged. They raced into a seven-point lead inside 12 minutes

Kildare reached the semi-finals with a convincing performance against an unimpressive Louth side at Newbridge, winning 0-10 to 0-8. Kildare led by 0-6 to 0-5 at the break.

Meanwhile, in Division Four of the National Football League, Offaly had their expected win over Kilkenny (3-18 to 0-1) to guarantee that they won the division and a place against Kildare in the National League quarter-finals.

Fermanagh will join Offaly in Division Three, after beating Waterford by 0-12 to 0-9 yesterday. Carlow manager Bobby Millar, recently critical of his side, had something to cheer him up thanks to a 2-12 to 2-7 win over Limerick, while Sligo beat London 2-14 to 0-10.