Meath played poorly enough to lose and Louth played well enough to win. A simple version of happened at Clann na nGael in Dundalk tonight as Meath and Louth ended level (2-12 to 3-9) at the end of normal time and level again (2-14 to 3-11) after extra-time.
The consequnces for Meath is a replay next Wednesday night in Navan, but the shorter-term could mean some selection problems for senior football manager Mick O’Dowd who had three of his players included in Sean Barry’s starting 15.
Eamon Wallace, Bryan McMahon and Padraic Harnan all stated against Armagh last Saturday night - could start this Sunday in Ballybofey, may start next Wednesday night for the replay and might also be included for Saturday week’s trip to Portlaoise.
However, tonight it was a case of survival in difficult conditions on a tight pitch against a very determined Louth 15 who had a star in the making in young corner forward Ryan Burns who will in action for his Ardee school in the Leinster finakl this week.
He tormented the Meath rearguard and scored 2-7 while Cian Diyle hit 1-2 with Robert Quigley and Conor Grimes completing the tally.
The sides were level twice in the first-half as Meath were ahead by 2-6 to 1-6 at the interval with the goals from McMahon and Joey Wallace.
It was level again twice in the second-half as a bizarre Neil Shortall point from a sideline close to half-way bounced over the Louth crossbar to give Meath a 2-12 to 3-8 margin with seconds remaining. Louth deservedly equalised.
The sides were level twice more in extra-time with a brace of McMahon points taking his tally to 1-8, a reasonable return although Meath tallied 14 wides and found it difficult to cope with Louth’s packed defence in which centre-forward James Stewart played a sweeper’s role.
It will be more challenging for Louth on the larger Pairc Tailteann pitch, but Meath will also have to be more productive on the scoreboard and sharpen their finishing to advance to the semi-final the following week against Offaly.
Meath - Andrew Colgan (Donaghmore/Ashbourne); Simon Carty (Dunderry), Conor McGill (Ratoath), David McQuillan (St Patrick’s); Padraic Harnan (Moynalvey), Shane Melia (Don/Ash), Shane McEntee (Dunboyne): Adam Flanagan (Clonard), Conor Sheridan (Simonstown Gaels 0-1); Charles Brogan (Carnaross), Bobby O’Brien (Ratoath 0-2), Neil Shortall (Curraha 0-1 sideline); Eamon Wallace (Ratoath 0-2), Bryan McMahon (Ratoath 1-8), Joey Wallace (Ratoath 1-0). Subs - Brian Power (Ratoath) for Brogan 47 mins, Anthony Burke (Duleek/Bellewstown) for J Wallace 50m, Seamus Mattimoe (Gaeil Colmcille) for Harnan 58m. Extra-time - Harry Rooney (Skryne) for Sheridan, Cathal Finn (Dunboyne) for McEntee, Barry Dardis (Summerhill) for Shortall.
Referee - Patrick Maguire (Longford).
Offaly 0-13, Kildare 0-12
Longford 1-13, Laois 1-12
Dublin 2-28, Carlow 0-3.