Meath crush Laois to book final spot

Story by Fergal Lynch

Saturday, 7th July, 2018 1:25pm

Meath crush Laois to book final spot

Meath romped to their first Leinster MFC final since 2012 as they crushed Laois by 5-18 to 0-8 at O'Moore Park this afternoon.

Rumours were rife that Laois were low on confidence and Meath took full advantage from the off with Luke Kelly capitalising on a mistake by Sean O'Neill to sweep the ball to the net after just 38 seconds.

A minute later Luke Mitchell converted a free from 40-metres and when Bryan McCormack added a superb score straight from the kick-out the young Royals were 1-2 to 0-0 clear by the third minute.

Laois responded with a free from Ross Bolger in the fourth minute, but that was the only effort they mustered in the opening 28 minutes as Meath dominated with Conor Harford impenetrable at centre-back and Cian McBride majestic at midfield.

A missed free from Mitchell and a squandered goal chance by McBride were followed by a 10th minute point for David Bell and when Kelly reacted quickest, after Matthew Costello's stinging drive hit the underside of the crossbar, he produced a low finish to the net to make it 2-3 to 0-1.

Further scores from Darragh Swaine and Mitchell (free) stretched Meath's advantage to 10 points and understandably they lowered their intensity and began to showboat a little in the intense mid-day sun.

Manager Joe Treanor shouted for more urgency from the sideline and from the 21st minute Meath picked up again with Mitchell adding two more frees before another magnificent catch by McBride set-up Costello for a fine point to make it 2-8 to 0-1.

Six minutes before the break McCormack bagged Meath's third goal with a brilliant finish to the roof of the net and from the kickout Conor Farrelly won possession and laid off to Kelly who made it 3-9 to 0-1.

Laois' second shot at the target saw Mark O'Connell fire a free wide, but in first-half injury-time Oisin Byrne converted a 13-metre free to close the gap to 0-2 to 3-9 at the break.

It took Conor Farrelly just 11 seconds to stretch Meath's lead, but Laois did improve after the break with the introduction of three substitutes Damon Larkin, Cathal Doyle and Josh Lacey and it was Larkin who forced Sean Brennan into the first of three spectacular second-half saves which preserved Meath's cushion.

Points from Sean Greene and Larkin either side of a sccore from Bell were Laois' first from play, but Meath continued to impress with Bell and Mitchell (free) making it 3-13 to 0-4 in the 39th minute.

Another great save by Brennan denied Larkin a goal, but referee Darragh Sheppard called play back and awarded a free which Lacey converted.

Mitchell (free) and Conor Goode traded points as play became broken by the introduction of substitutes, but it was Meath who continued topress with Micthell forcing Oisin Keogh into a fine save.

Keogh was beaten for a fourth time in the 49th minute when Bell rattled thee net, but Laois continued to press with Brennan making an outstanding stop from Mark O'Connell at the expense of a '45' which Eamonn Delaney converted.

A stunning clearance off the line by James O'Hare preserved Meath's cleansheet and with seven minutes remaining Bell flicked his second and Meath's fifth goal.

Costello converted a '45' after Brian O'Hanlon was denied by Keogh, but O'Hanlon did manage two points in the closing stages before Colin Hawdon finished the scoring after Lacey pointed for Laois to ensure Meath's comfortable passage to a first Leinster MFC final since 2012.



Meath – Sean Brennan (Dunderry); James O'Hare (Rathkenny), Harry O'Higgins (Drumbaragh), Cathal Hickey (Seneschalstown); Conor Farrelly (Walterstown 0-1), Conor Harford (St Vincent's), Sean Coffey (Ballinabrackey); Adam Reilly (Moynalty), Cian McBride (St Ultan's); Darragh Swaine (Clann na n Gael (0-1)), Matthew Costello (Dunshaughlin 0-2 one '45'), Bryan McCormack (Moynalty 1-1); David Bell (St Colmcille's (2-3), Luke Kelly (Na Fianna 2-1), Luke Mitchll (Dunshaughlin 0-6 frees). Subs – Oisin McCluskey (Na Fianna) for Hickey 43 mins, Brian O'Hanlon (Navan O'Mahonys 0-2) for Kelly 47m, Colin Hawdon (Oldcastle 0-1) for Swaine 49m, Luke Newe (Ratoath) for O'Higgins, Adam Treanor (Walterstown) for McCormack 57m, Killian Price (Castletown) for Harford 60m.


Laois – Oisin Keogh; Sean Greene (0-1), Micahel Bennett, Sean O'Neill; Niall Carey, Cathal Bennett, Ciaran Byrne; Ben Conroy, Sean Michael Corcoran; Daragh Galvin, Rioghan Murphy, Conor Goode (0-1); Oisin Byrne (0-1 free), Ross Bolger (0-1 frees), Mark O'Connell. Subs – Damon Larkin (0-1) for O Byrne, Cathal Doyle for Galvin, Josh Lacey (0-2 one free) for Bolger all half-time, Ciaran Burke for Corcoran 47 mins, Eamonn Delaney (0-1 '45') for Carey 48m, Seth Burns for Bennett 53m,


Referee – Darragh Sheppard (Dublin).

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