Meath's Brendan McKeon seeks to disposses Down's Tim Prenter.

Royals downed in Ballycran

They simply had to win and they tried desperately hard to do just that but ultimately fell short.

Meath travelled to Ballycran in the Ards Peninsula today and lost out to Down in the McDonagh Cup, 2-19 to 2-28.

The high-scoring nature of the contest gives some idea of just how entertaining, full-on contest it was - but the result means Meath are relegated to the Ring Cup next year.

The visitors certainly made the home team work hard for this win. They led briefly but just couldn't push on.

Two brilliantly-taken first-half goals from Meath gave them a 2-11 to 0-16 interval lead with Jack Regan (penalty) and Chris Reilly finding the net for them

Nick Weir's side were really undone by the concession of two quick-fire goals in the second-half from Ryan McCusker and Conor Woods, the latter a real scrappy affair.

Meath played some quality hurling at times in what was, by some distance, their best display of the campaign with players such as Mark O'Sullivan, Conor McKeon and James Kelly outstanding.

It didn't ultimately matter as Down won to seal their place in the McDonagh Cup while Meath drop a grade.


Down - Paul Sheehan 0-8 six frees; Conor Woods 1-4; Tim Prenter 0-5; Ryan McClusker 1-0; Liam Savage 0-2; Pearse Og McCrickard 0-2; Coalan Teggart 0-1; Tom Murray 0-1; Matt Conlon 0-1; Chris Egan 0-1; Eoghan Sands 0-1; Daithi Sands 0-1; Marc Fisher 0-1.

Meath - Jack Regan 1-9 six frees, three 65s; Mark O'Sullivan 0-5 one free; Chris Reilly 1-1; James Kelly 0-1; Mickey Burke 0-1; Nicky Potterton 0-1; Jack Walsh 0-1.


Meath - Charlie Ennis; Brendan McKeon, Sean Geraghty, Patrick Potterton; James Kelly, Darragh Kelly, Stephen Morris; Mickey Burke, Shane Whitty; Kevin Keena, Jack Regan, Mark O'Sullivan; Mickey Cole, Damien Healy, Chris Reilly. Subs - Nicky Potterton for Morris seven mins, Jack Walsh for Cole 36m, Eamon O Donnchadha for Keena 40m, Pauric O'Hanrahan for Potterton 61m, Conor Ryan for Reilly 68m.

Down - Stephen Keith; John McManus, Barry Trainor, Darragh Mallon; Tom Murray, Caolan Teggart, Matt Conlon; Liam Savage, Chris Egan; Eoghan Sands, Paul Sheehan, Ryan McCusker; Daithi Sands, Marc Fisher, Padraig Doran. Subs - Conor Cassidy for Fisher 41 mins, Ryan McCusker for Prenter 53m, Michael Hughes for Mallon 56m, Conor Woods for Sheehan 60m, Jordan Doran for Egan 64m.

Referee - Thomas Gleeson (Dublin).