royal joy Five-star Meath stun Kildare with second-half comeback to secure Leinster final slot
Meath 5-9 Kildare 0-15
An incredible five second-half goals helped Meath recover from a six-point, half-time deficit and book their place in the Leinster football final.
The Royals looked to be in deep trouble at the interval and were struggling in a number of key areas - but two goals inside the first three minutes of the second half from newcomers Mathew Costello and Jordan Morris, followed by efforts from Cillian O’Sullivan and subs Joey Wallace and James Conlon, saw Meath complete a spectacular comeback.
Kildare will feel like they passed up a big opportunity here, with defensive errors leading directly to two Meath goals.
There was just a point between the sides at the first water break but with half time looming, Kildare took control.
Meath were struggling on their own kick out and slowly the likes of Darragh Kirwan and Jimmy Hyland, who would kick 0-6 between them in the opening 35 minutes, started to make their presence felt in the full-forward line.
Jack O’Connor’s men kicked five points without reply but might have had a goal. Kevin Flynn’s effort clipped the bar and went over.
Meath had a goal chance of their own just a couple of minutes later when Cillian O’Sullivan saw his effort tipped around the post by Mark Donnellan.
But that was one of precious few forays into the Kildare half, and the Lilywhites built a deserved 0-10 to 0-4 lead at the interval.
However, Meath were a different side on the restart and Kildare couldn’t cope as the Royals turned up the heat.
Even the introduction of Daniel Flynn couldn’t restart their challenge as Meath improved in defence.
And to rub salt in the wound, Kildare finished the game with 14 men after Shea Ryan was sent off on a straight red card following a high tackle on O’Sullivan before Conlon ran in Meath’s fifth major.
SCORERS – Meath: J Morris (1-2, 1f), C O’Sullivan, M Costello, J Conlon 1-1 each, J Wallace 1-0, S Walsh, C Hickey, S McEntee, T O’Reilly 0-1 each. Kildare: J Hyland 0-5 (3f 1m), P Brophy, D Kirwan 0-2 each, D Hyland, K Flynn, F Conway, D Flynn, B McCormack, M Byrne 0-1 each
Meath: M Brennan; S Lavin, C McGill, D Toner; D Keogan, S McEntee, R Ryan; B Menton, R Jones; C O’Sullivan, B McMahon, M Costello; J Morris, S Walsh, T O’Reilly SUBS: C Hickey for Ryan, J Wallace for Reilly, J Scully for McMahon (all 54), J Conlon for Walsh (68), E Harkin for O'Sullivan (76).
Kildare: M Donnellan; M Dempsey, S Ryan, M O’Grady; D Hyland, C Kavanagh, K Flynn, K Feely, E Doyle; M Byrne, B McCormack, P Brophy; F Conway, D Kirwan, J Hyland SUBS: D Flynn for McCormack (48), P Cribbin for Byrne (50), A Masterson for Kavanagh (56), L Power for Conway (58), N Flynn for Kirwan (61).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).