Meath clocked up their second victory for manager Sean Barry (pictured) in the u-21 Hastings Cup FT at Millbrook today when they emerged from a tough contest with a 1-12 to 0-13 victory over a decidely unlucky Leitrim side who had a goal rather harshly ruled out for a square ball infringement in the opening minutes of the first-half.
This win now puts Meath into a strong position to qualify either as a group winner of best runner-up when they tackle Tipperary in the third round of their group next Saturday at a Tipperary venue.
However, Meath will need to raise their performance to make it three wins in-a-row as Tipperary had 10 points to spare over Leitrim in the opening round last week.
Leitrim played some good football and were well worth a 0-9 to 1-5 interval advantage as they picked off the points impressively and recovered from the concession of a 17th minute goal by Joey Wallace for Meath.
Wallace also sent over three first-half points (one free) with Adam Flanagan and Seamus Mattimoe also splitting the posts.
Leitrim battled tenaciously and punished Meath’s inability to defend without conceding frees, although only one point was from Ronan Flynn’s placed ball in that opening half, he also sent over three from play. Shane Quinn (two), Niall Brady and Thomas Mulvey added the other scores.
Leitrim dictated the early second-half exchanges and were ahead by 0-11 to 1-6 by the 10th minute with McHugh and Brady on the mark while Mattimoe opened Meath’s account from a free.
At that stage Meath realised that the game was beginning to slip away, but substitutions seemed to make a difference with Neil Shortall, Conor McGill and James McEntee all making an impact.
Shortall opened his account before McEntee burst through and rifled a shot against the crossbar. It signalled a period of sustained Meath pressure during which the Royals regained the lead with points from Mattimoe, McEntee, Anthony Burke and Adam Flanagan for a 1-11 to 0-11 advantage.
Leitrim rallied through a brace of McHugh pointed frees, but Meath held out with the help of a David Toner point.