Meath's Aileen Donnelly in control at midfield at the expense of Aishling Burke of Laois during Saturday's All-Ireland Premier Junior clash at Pairc Tailteann.
Meath 2-9, Laois 0-12
Meath opened their bid for the All-Ireland Premier Junior Camogie Championship with a battling victory against Laois at Pairc Tailteann on Saturday where a goal in each half by Elizabeth Oakes made the difference.
This was a hard-earned victory after which team manager John Davis acknowledged that the opposition was a bit of an unknown quantity as Laois had not participated in the National Camogie League this year.
"This was their first game since last year and it's hard to know what you are going to get with a situation like that," he told the Meath Chronicle.
Davis also had to make some changes to the team that started for the Leinster decider against Kildare a month ago.
Full-back Aoife Thompson was sidelined with an injury and also on the bench were Fiona O'Neill and Niamh Guy which paved the way into the starting 15 for Cheyenne O'Brien (pictured), Ann Marie Fagan and Oakes.
Claire Coffey, who started at midfield the last day, took over at full-back and the Na Fianna player produced a spirited performance in a new-look rearguard where she was flanked by O'Brien and Holly Geraghty.
Solid and effective would be the best description for the full-back line, but too many frees were conceded and in this regard Kristina Troy was culpabale. The centre-back lacked nothing in effort and that trait worked against her in this contest as she was repeatedly penalised by the referee for her robust approach.
Troy still delivered a big performance and if she can refine her tackling the problem will be solved, but Meath also needed someone who was prepared to put in the hard tackles as Laois were equally robust, but a little bit cuter.
However, all the Meath scores were from play in comparison to five points for Laois.
Meath managed an early goal from Oakes against a strong wind and that sustained them for most of the opening half as Laois eased into a 0-5 to 1-0 advantage by the 25th minute.
Points from Elaine Mahony (three) and a brace by her sister Louise gave Laois the advantage, but just when it looked as if Meath might lose touch the Royals battened down the hatches and picked off some good points.
Sinead Hackett ended a 21-minute barren spell on the scoreboard for Meath with her side's first point and Edel Guy added two more in as many minutes.
Louise Mahony drew the sides level (0-6 to 1-3) at the interval when she converted an injury-time free.
Both teams upped the tempo in the second-half as Jane Dolan, who was tightly marked throughout, and Louise Mahony (free) exchanged quick points.
Meath forged ahead again following a tremendous surge by Aileen Donnelly who found Aoife Maguire and the Killyon player split the posts.
Hackett accelerated away from her marker and added another point soon after following a great piece of play by Dolan who had to go deep to win possession, but Louise Mahony converted another Laois free to leave the minimum in it with 20 minutes remaining.
Meath then manufactured a second goal with Oakes showing real predatory instincts. She pulled on the sliotar as she turned and found the net from close range.
The O'Mahony sisters each pointed again in between a Hackett score for Meath before Emily Mangan made a fine save from Laois wing-forward Sile Burke at the expense of a '45' which Louise O'Mahony converted.
That left Laois two points adrift (0-11 to 2-7) with five minutes remaining, but Hackett and Dolan each split the posts at the other end and that was sufficient for Meath to weather a late bout of Laois pressure.
Meath - Emily Mangan (Blackhall Gaels); Cheyanne O'Brien (Kilmessan), Clare Coffey (Na Fianna), Holly Geraghty (Blackhall Gaels); Áine Keogh (Kildalkey), Kristina Troy (Blackhall Gaels), Lisa Foley (Killyon); Ann Marie Fagan (Trim), Aileen Donnelly (Kilmessan); Edel Guy (Trim 0-2), Aoife Maguire (Killyon 0-1), Jane Dolan (Blackhall Gaels 0-2); Elizabeth Lynch (Donaghmore/Ashbourne), Sinead Hackett (Dunboyne 0-4), Elizabeth Oakes (Navan O'Mahonys 2-0).
Laois - L Dunne; A Dunphy, M Burke, C Downey; C Conroy, S Fitzgerald, E Delaney; L Mahony (0-8 six frees, one '45'), A Burke; S Burke, E Mahony (0-4), S Moylan; J Dunne, Y O'Neill, LM Maher. Sub - S Cuddy for O'Neill half-time.
Referee - Pat Walsh.