Cup joy for goal-hungry Royals

Story by Jimmy Geoghegan

Saturday, 22nd June, 2019 6:26pm

Cup joy for goal-hungry Royals

Meath celebrate with the Christy Ring Cup

Three years after they won it for the first time Meath claimed the Christy Ring Cup once more when they defeated Down 4-19 to 2-15 at Croke Park today. 

Ahead all the way Meath pulled clear near the end to ensure they would be returning home with the trophy named after the Cork hurling legend. 

This was a sweet victory for Nick Fitzgerald and his charges as they rolled over a young Down side who found the tempo just too hot to handle in sun-splashed Croke Park. 

It was particularly sweet for Adam Gannon who hit 2-3 in a powerhouse performance while Nicky Potterton and Calum O'Sullivan also found the net for the Royals. Down also finished with 14 men after they had a player sent off in the dying minutes. 

Not that it was all plain-sailing on a breezy afternoon. With 16 minutes played Meath led 1-5 to 0-0 yet at the break the gap between the teams was down to the minimum, 1-12 to 2-8 with Paul Sheehan from a penalty and Daithi Sands just before the interval, firing to the net for the Ulster side. 

Gannon scored Meath's opening goal with the Killyon player tormenting the Down defence all afternoon. Meath also missed a penalty with Jack Regan's shot well saved by Down 'keeper Stephen Keith.

However with Regan (five), Damien Healy, Gannon (three), Shane Brennan and Barry Slevin (two)  among those to fire over points for Meath in that opening hall Fitzgerald's men just about managed to stay in front at the interval. Sheehan was particularly effective in getting points for the Ulster side especially in a 10-minute spell in the lead up to the interval when Down dominated.   

The second-half couldn't have started better for Meath with Kildalkey's Potterton firing a powerful shot to the net and with Gannon grabbing a second goal Meath surged into a 3-13 to 2-11 lead after 44 minutes. 

Regan ended up with nine points, four frees, two '65s' with Joey Keena, Alan Douglas and Potterton also pointing in that second-half.

The destination of the trophy was all but assured by the time O'Sullivan finished off a move to the net late on after great work by Keena. Meath were home and dry and Christy Ring Cup champions once more. 

SCORERS

Meath: Jack Regan 0-9 five frees, two '65s'; Adam Gannon 2-3; Nicky Potterton 1-1; Callum O'Sullivan 1-0; Barry Slevin 0-2; Shane Brennan 0-1; Damien Healy 0-1; Alan Douglas 0-1; Joey Keena 0-1.

Down - Paul Sheehan 1-8, goal penalty, six frees, '65'; Daithi Sands 1-1; Danny Toner 0-2; Marc Fisher 0-2; Eoghan Sands 0-1; Oisin McManus 0-1. 

See match analysis, quotes and John Quirke's photographs from game in the next issue of the Meath Chronicle  

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