Potterton goals decisive as Meath clinch crucial victory
Meath got their NHL Div 2A campaign off to a dream start with a 2-20 to 3-14 victory over Kildare at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday afternoon, writes Tom Gannon.
It had only been eight days since these two sides had met in the final round of the Kehoe Cup. On that occasion it was Kildare who came out on top. However there would be no repeat of that result as two goals from Nicky Potterton proved to be crucial.
It was a fantastic display from Seoirse Bulfin’s men who were considered outsiders to come away from Navan with a victory before throw in. Despite fielding a rather young team, it was the more experienced campaigners who stepped up to the fore for Meath.
James Toher put in a mighty shift and was at the heart of everything good about Meath’s performance. Charlie Ennis pulled off four fantastic saves between the sticks and without him, the result could have had a very different complexion.
The half back line was very strong. Simon Ennis and Niall McLarnon have to be commended for their sublime work ethic on the day.
With a strong wind at their backs, Kildare were the first to strike with a point from play from Jack Higgins. Kildare’s Jack Sheridan forced Charlie Ennis to make a fantastic save and deny Kildare an early goal.
Kildare were not to be denied a second time though and Cian Baron found himself in a great position to finish to the back of Charlie Ennis's net to give Kildare an early five point lead.
Tom Shine finally got Meath’s tally underway with a nice score from play. James Kelly secured Meath’s second point, but Kildare responded well with two points from Jack Sheridan and one from Conn Kehoe to extend their lead to seven points.
Nicky Potterton came alive at the 20 minute marker as he broke through the Kildare defence and finish the sliotar to the back of the Kildare net.
Potterton followed this up with a point and Podge O’Hanrahan’s opening score meant that there was only two points between the sides after 25 minutes.
Kildare started to apply the pressure again and Charlie Ennis was forced to make two more brilliant saves. Kildare brought their tally to 1-8 thanks to another Jack Sheridan free.
Podge O’Hanrahan popped over a free just before half time to leave two points between the sides as Kildare led 1-9 to 1-7 at the break.
James Toher opened Meath’s second half tally with the score of the game when his sideline cut right in front of the Meath dugout went sailing over the bar. Jack Sheridan cancelled out Toher’s score with his sixth.
Moments later a Sean Martin point left one between the sides once again. Charlie Ennis produced his finest save of the game to once again deny Kildare their second goal.
Podge O’Hanrahan’s third free meant that the sides were level with 25 minutes remaining.
Muiris Curtin’s attempt on the 15 minute marker just edged inside the right side of the post to give Kildare a one point lead once again.
A long ball in fell beautifully for Nicky Potterton who finished brilliantly to the back of the Kildare net to put Meath in front for the first time.
A little bit of edginess started to creep into the game. A fantastic Podge O’Hanrahan free put Meath three ahead. Kildare came back at Meath and finally were able to get past Charlie Ennis once more as Conn Kehoe fired a bullet to the back of the Trim man's net.
Points from James Murray, James Toher and Sean Martin extended Meath's advantage to four. Muiris Curtin and Podge O’Hanrahan traded scores as the concluding stages approached
A point from James Toher and a long range score from Simon Ennis cemented Meath as the most likely winners. A late goal from Kildare’s James Burke was too little too late for the Lilywhites and Meath held on for a valuable victory
Meath – Nicky Potterton 2-1; Podge O’Hanrahan 0-6 six frees; James Toher 0-5 one sideline; James Murray 0-2; Sean Martin 0-2; James Kelly 0-1; Niall McLarnon 0-1; Simon Ennis 0-1; Sean Geraghty 0-1.
Kildare – Jack Sheridan 0-7 six frees; Cian Boran 1-1; Conn Kehoe 1-1; James Burke 1-0; Jack Higgins 0-3; Muiris Curtin 0-1; Riain Boran 0-1.
Meath - Charlie Ennis; Jarlath Ennis, Shane Whitty, Ronan Byrne; Niall McLarnon, Simon Ennis, Ethan Devine; Sean Quigley, Tom Shine; James Toher, James Murray, Sean Matin; Nicholas Potterton, James Kelly, Padraig O’Hanrahan. Subs - Sean Geraghty for J Ennis 5m, Daire Shine for Quigley 52m, Kris Gorman for Kelly 64m, Mark Hogan for T Shine 67m, Mickey Burke for Martin 72m.
Kildare - Paddy McKenna; Cian Shanahan, Sean Christanseen, Mark Grace; Simon Leacy, Conan Boran, Rian Boran; Paul Dolan, Daire Guerin; Cathal Dowling, Jack Sheridan, Jack Higgin; Muiris Curtin, Declan Flaherty, Cian Boran. Subs - Conn Kehoe for Dolan 10m, James Burke for Flaherty 43m.
Referee - Colm McDonald (Antrim).