Kiltale hotshot helps Meath retain status in searing heat
The sun beat down relentlessly on Parnell Park today as Meath applied the heat on Kildare and marched to vital victory that ensures their status in the McDonagh Cup.
The clock was edging towards 30 degrees when the McDongah Cup relegation play-off ended and Meath went close to racking up 30 points - once they got moving.
One of the players who did more than most to help Meath chalk up a 0-28 to 1-15 victory was Jack Regan who shot 17 points, 13 frees.
Not only was in accurate from frees, some of them booming efforts from well inside his own half, he was also hugely influential from play winning ball and then finding a colleague.
All afternoon the richly-talented Kiltale marksman could do little wrong as he fired over point after point to ensure it's the Lilywhites who will be dropping back down to the Christy Ring Cup next year - and not Meath.
For much of the opening half it looked like Kildare might carve out a victory. At one stage they led by 1-7 to 0-4 but Meath, who trailed 0-12 to 1-11 at the break really turned up the temperature in the second-half and pick up a much-cherished victory.
"This victory is massive, we felt big pressure coming into this game all week," said Meath captain Sean Geraghty. "We had a great performance last Saturday against Kerry in Navan and we wanted to back up that win.
"As players it means everything, we've won Christy Rings we beat Kerry by four or five points unlucky not to win by more and they got to the final so it would really have been a setback to the development of this team to lose today and slip back down a grade."
Geraghty had a super game for his team especially in the opening half when he got vital blocks in, crucial clearances at a time when Kildare were on top.
Mark O'Sullivan and Eamon O Donnchadha hit three points apiece while James Toher and Stephen Morris added two each. Adam Gannon also fired over a point for Meath who remarkably didn't hit one wide in the opening half.
They registered five after the break but they scored a lot more than they missed to march to victory. Some of the Meath points were super scores from all sorts of distances.
Jack Sheridan got the goal for Kildare on 12 minutes and at one stage the Lilywhites led 1-7 to 0-4 but Meath gradually got back into the game through hard graft and a gritty self belief to win.
Sheridan was also red carded on 59 minutes but but that stage the balance was very much in Meath's favour.
Meath - Jack Regan 0-17, 13 frees; Mark O’Sullivan and Eamon O Donnchadha 0-3 each, James Toher and Stephen Morris 0-2 each, Adam Gannon 0-1.
Kildare - Jack Sheridan 1-5 four frees; Brian Byrne 0-2; Paul Divilly 0-2; Jack Travers 0-2; Johnny Byrne 0-1; Conor Dowling 0-1; Shane Ryan 0-1; Gerry Keegan 0-1.
Meath - Charlie Ennis; Ger Murphy, Shane Whitty, Sean Geraghty; James Kelly, Darragh Kelly, Keith Keoghan; Stephen Morris, James Toher; Mark O'Sullivan, Jack Regan, David Reilly; Adam Gannon, Alan Douglas, Paddy Conneely. Subs - Eamon O Donnchadha for Reilly 28 mins, Shane Brennan for D Kelly 49m, Sean Quigley for Conneely, Pauric O'Hanrahan for Gannon 58m, Mickey Burke for Geraghty 62m.
Kildare - Paddy McKenna; Cathal Derivan, Brian Boran, Simon Leacy; Kevin Whelan, Declan Flaherty, Jack Travers; Paul Divilly, Brian Byrne; Cathal Dowling, Johnny Byrne, James Burke; Colm Chan, Jack Sheridan, David Slattery. Subs - Gerry Keegan for Chan 30 mins, Shane Ryan for Slattery 40m, Conor Dowling for Cathal Dowling 56m, Keelan Smith for J Byrne 58m, Sean Christiansen for Flaherty 68m.
Referee - Colum Cunning (Antrim)