Royals slump to heavy loss in Stamullen

Tough start to Leinster MFC for Meath

There was little to warm the cockles of the hardy Meath supporters who braved the bitterly cold conditions at Stamullen tonight as they watched their side slump to a heavy 1-6 to 1-18 Leinster MFC loss to Kildare.

As is often the case at minor football it can be a venture into the unknown, but much more was expected of a Meath team that has worked hard under the guidance of Joe Cowley and his excellent coaches.

However, what transpired was a lesson in structured, well-drilled football from a talented Kildare side that threw out cautionary jabs in the opening half before delivering devastating blow after devastating blow in the second period.

The truth of the matter is that Meath were a long way second best. Kildare had their homework done and they executed their game plan to a tee.

They dropped Liam Kenny into the sweeper role, deployed Finn Dowling to do a man marking job on the dangerous Ciaran Sheridan and instructed their wing-backs to join the attack at every available opportunity.

Meath had little or no response to the well-drilled Lilywhites who produced spells of outstanding football and look to be one of the best sides seen at minor level from the county in a few years.

It had looked promising for Meath early on. Despite falling behind to a Tadhg Donlon point after two and half minutes they hit back with a brilliant goal from Evan Kelly after a fine move that included a clever quick pass from Eoin Feldman to make it 1-0 to 0-1.

27-03-24, ElectricIreland Leinster Minor FC at St Patricks GAA - Stamullen,Meath v KildarePhoto: David Mullen/ Photo by David Mullen

It looked promising for Meath, but they found it hard to find stresslines in Kildare's defensive structure.

Cian McKevitt and the excellent Harry Donnelly restored parity for the visitors by the fifth minute and even though Jack Doyle did restore Meath's lead with a point of brilliant simplicity after Cathal Barron had fetched Cian Murphy's long kickout, it was pretty much one way traffic for the next 55 minutes.

Meath managed just five points for the remainder, just two of those from play, while in contrast Kildare kicked 1-15, just three points from frees.

The Kildare goal did have an element of luck about it, but Meath can only have themselves to blame as they didn't clear their lines after Donnelly's dipping shot came back off the crossbar and Mick O'Toole fired the loose ball to the net to make it 1-3 to 1-1 and they led from there to the finish.

27-03-24, ElectricIreland Leinster Minor FC at St Patricks GAA - Stamullen,Meath v KildareCian Tobin (Meath) and Liam Kelly (Kildare) / Rian Beagan (Kildare)Photo: David Mullen/ Photo by David Mullen

Ruaidhri Lawlor and Ronan Kelly traded points with Pat Crawley (two, one free) as Kildare maintained their two point cushion.

Then they hit successive scores from Lawlor, O'Toole and Luke Murray before Meath's livliest threat Crawley converted another free to close the gap to 1-4 to 1-8 at the break.

After kicking three wides inside two and half minutes of the restart Meath heads dropped when Evan Boyle stretched Kildare's lead.

27-03-24, ElectricIreland Leinster Minor FC at St Patricks GAA - Stamullen,Meath v KildareThomas McLoughlin (Meath) and Harry Donnelly (Kildare)Photo: David Mullen/ Photo by David Mullen

Doyle pulled one back with what proved to be Meath's only score from play of the half as three points from Donnelly (two frees) made it 1-12 to 1-5 at the three-quarters stage.

Crawley closed Meath's account with a free 15 minutes from the final whistle, but Kildare continued to pile on the misery with scores from Paddy Ryan (two), Donnelly (two, one free), Austin Donegan and Brian Caffrey adding deserved gloss to Kildare's impressive return.

27-03-24, ElectricIreland Leinster Minor FC at St Patricks GAA - Stamullen,Meath v KildareEvan DeMange (Meath) and Evan Boyle (Kildare)Photo: David Mullen/ Photo by David Mullen

It's back to the drawing board for Meath manager Joe Cowley and his management team ahead of next Wednesday's second round clash with Louth in Hunterstown. All is not lost, but they will need to find significant improvement.

Kildare - Conor McDonnell; Rian Beagan, Liam McDonald, Matthew O'Connor; Ruaidhri Lawler (0-2), Mick O'Toole (1-1), Ronan Kelly (0-1); Evan Boyle (0-1), Finn Dowling; Cian McKevitt (0-1), Harry Donnelly (0-6 three frees), Liam Kenny; Luke Murray (0-1), Paddy Ryan (0-2), Tadhg Donlon (0-1). Subs - Dylan O'Dwyer for Murray 43m, Austin Donegan (0-1) for Donlon 48m, Brian Caffrey (0-1) for McKevitt 55m, Adam Poole for Donnelly 57m, Sean McGinn for O'Toole 59m.

Meath - Cian Murphy (St Patrick's); Cillian Yore (St Ultan's), Sean McLoughlin (Dunderry), Thomas Sheridan (Oldcastle); Cian Tobin (St Peter's), Conor Black (St Patrick's), Eoin McCrudden (St Peter's); Cathal Barron (Dunderry), Evan Demange (Drumbaragh); Eoin Feldman (Ratoath), Jack Doyle (St Peter's 0-2), Cormac Nugent (O'Mahonys); Evan Kelly (Donaghmore/Ashbourne 1-0), Ciaran Sheridan (Dunderry), Pat Crawley (Oldcastle 0-4 three frees). Subs - Charles McCarthy (Seneschalstown) for Demange 37m, Cormac Smith (Clann na nGael) for Feldman 46m, Patrick Yourell (O'Mahonys) for Nugent 50m, Adam Ducie for Doyle 55m, Andrew Brien (St Mary's) for Kelly 58m.

Referee - Niall Ward (Westmeath).