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Meath advance to Leinster final

Story by Fergal Lynch

Tuesday, 12th June, 2018 8:47pm

Meath advance to Leinster final

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There were no blanket defences or negatives tactics employed at Pairc Tailteann as Meath advanced to the Leinster JFC final with a rousing 2-23 to 2-18 victory over Longford. Kildare await the Royals in that Croke Park showdown on Sunday 24th June following their 2-19 to 0-8 win over Louth in Newbridge and if the scoring rates are anything to go by that could be a classic. It was refeshing to watch two teams go toe-to-toe, 15-on-15 for the majority of this pulsating contest and although Meath looked like pulling away early on from a Longford side that included 10 players from senior clubs, the midlanders battled back and got within four points with just 18 minutes remaining. However, Meath proved too strong with the Kevin Ross, Daire Rowe combination registering 15 points between them and the small crowd in attendence certainly got their monies worth 4-32 of the 4-41 from play. Determined to hold onto their provincial crown Meath started impressively and raced into a 0-4 to0-1 lead after just six minutes with Daire Rowe (two), Kevin Ross and Peter O'Connell on target with Mark Hughes offering Longford's sole reply. The visitors appeared to have woken from their evening slumber when Killian Farrell blasted to the net from a tight angle to tie the game, but almost instantly Meath replied with Luke Martyn palming Thomas O'Reilly's short point attempt to the net to restore Meath's three-point cushion. The concession of that goal rocked Longford and in the subsequent five minutes they shipped another 1-4 with Rowe and Ross (free) pointing before O'Connell cooly finished a second goal and then Ross added another brace of points to make it 2-8 to 1-1. Nigel Rabbitte settled Longford and they did look a threat with Shane Kenny forcing Conor McHugh into a fine stop, but Meath continued to dominate with Danny Quinn and Rowe putting 11 points between the sides. Feeling the game racing away from them Longford found a purple patch with Rabbitte (two), Hughes and Brian Farrell, from a '45' after Michael Flood blocked Paddy Kiernan's shot, closed the gap to 1-6 to 2-10. Quinn and O'Connell settled Meath again and in the closing three minutes of the halfKiernan and Conor Shields pointed either side of another O'Connell score to leave Meath 2-13 to 1-8 ahead at the break. The sides shared the first four points after the break with Ross and Rowe cancelling out scores from Darragh Doherty and Hughes, but then Longford were boosted when Shane Kenny flicked his side'ssecond goal and when Kiernan and Hughes replied to a Rowe free with points the deficit was down to four 2-12 to 2-16. However, that was as close as Longford could get as Meath held them at arms length with four points from Ross stretching their lead to 2-20 to 2-13. After Hughes and Conor Farrell traded scores Longford closed to within four again as Kiernan (two) and David Morgan made it 2-17 to 2-21 with four minutes remaining. Meath stood strong defensively and sealed the win with late points from Eamon O Donnachadha and Darren Finney rendering Hughes late free a mere consolation as Meath march on in defence of their crown. Meath - Conor McHugh (Oldcastle); Ciaran O'Rourke (Trim), Cian McPartland (Oldcastle), Michael Woods (St Brigid's); Nicky Judge (Ballinabrackey), Conor Dempsey (Dunderry), Thomas O'Reilly (Moylagh); Sean Claire (Syddan), Kevin Traynor (Syddan);  Danny Quinn (Ballinabrackey 0-2), Peter O'Connell (St Michael's 1-3), Cathal McConnell (Bective); Kevin Ross (Castletown 0-9 four frees), Luke Martyn (Dunderry 1-0), Daire Rowe (Syddan 0-6 three frees). Subs - Conor Farrell (Dunderry 0-1) for Claire half-time, Eamon O Donnchadha (Clann na nGael 0-1) for Quinn 43 mins, Darren Finney (Castletown 0-1) for McConnell 56m, Ger Reidy (Oldcastle) for Flood 58m, Paul Lynch (Moynalty) for Rowe 60m, John Keane (Summerhill) for O'Reilly 64m. Johnny Lynch (Moynalty),, Kevin McKeown (Ballivor), Michael Kearney (Ballinabrackey). Longford – Colm Farrell; Conor Shields (0-1), Conor Farrell, Kevin Sorohan; Emmet Noonan, Fergal Battrim, Russell Brady; Brian Farrell (0-1 '45'), Andrew Dalton; Nigel Rabbitte (0-3), Diarmuid Cooney, Paddy Kiernan (0-4); Darragh Doherty (0-1), Killian Farrell (1-0), Mark Hughes (0-6 two frees). Subs – Shane Kenny (1-0) for Noonan 13 mins, Gary Rogers for Cooney 19m, Fergal Sheridan for Brady half-time, Jason Kelly (0-1) for Doherty 41m, David Morgan (0-1) for Farrell 45m, Robbie Clarke for Rabbitte 52m, Referee – Stephen Lohnson (Louth)

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