Meath rise from the dead as second half comeback sees them home over Louth

Colm O’Rourke’s side scored 1-6 without response in the final 30 minutes to turn the Division Two encounter on its head

National Football League Division Two: Meath 1-11 Louth 1-9

As inexperienced and injury ravaged as they were, losing to north-eastern neighbours Louth, particularly at home, wouldn’t have gone down well in Meath.

Colm O’Rourke’s rookie crew found themselves in a particularly tight spot with 40 minutes played in Navan and just five points registered.

They were fortunate to only trail by four points at that stage and, as O’Rourke acknowledged afterwards, you would have got long odds on Meath winning from there.

Not for the first time, however, Meath hauled themselves up off the canvas to deliver a knock-out blow to their long-suffering rivals, 1-6 without response in the closing half hour or so turning this Division Two game on its head.


Most pleasing from Meath’s perspective was the fact that rookie and fringe performers like Eoghan Frayne, Shane Walsh and Darragh Campion stood up when the need was greatest. O’Rourke is trying to build a new team and brought on two players - Brian O’Halloran and Danny Dixon - for their league debuts so this was a big boost to the Royal County’s reconstruction project.

Donal Keogan was terrific again too while Mathew Costello struck a stunning solo goal to seal the win for Meath in the 70th minute. Having previously drawn with Fermanagh in round one, they have three points on the board now and will fancy their chances of back-to-back wins at Kildare’s expense next Sunday back in Navan.

“You’d prefer not to be in a position where fellas had to display such character,” said O’Rourke. “But at least the good thing about it is that when the gun was put to their heads, there was a response. It looked at one stage like we were rolling over pretty easily.

“Sometimes players look within themselves and they find something they didn’t even know was there. We thought we had players of character and quality and we didn’t worry too much about age and I’m glad to say it does appear as if we have those types of players.”

With full-back Ronan Ryan and centre-back Padraic Harnan both missing, along with midfielders Conor Gray (illness), Jack Flynn (left the panel) and attackers Jordan Morris and James McEntee (both injured), Meath were up against it.

Louth, fresh off a morale boosting win over Cork, took full advantage initially and should have been more than 0-6 to 0-5 ahead at half-time. Ciaran Keenan had a couple of goal chances for last season’s Leinster finalists but was thwarted on both occasions.

Ger Brennan’s side displayed all the qualities of the former Dublin centre-back by hunting in packs and forcing Meath into turnovers all across the field.

That kept going, initially at least, after the restart and Louth moved 0-9 to 0-5 clear thanks to points from captain Sam Mulroy and Ryan Burns.

Remarkably, they didn’t score again until deep into stoppage time when substitute Tom Jackson netted as Meath increased the intensity, applied a far more aggressive press and picked off scores from the likes of Frayne, Walsh and McGowan before Costello’s wonder goal.

MEATH: S Brennan; M Murphy, A O’Neill, D Keogan; C Caulfield, D Campion, S Coffey; R Jones, C McBride; D McGowan (0-2, one mark), E Frayne (0-2), J O’Connor (0-2); S Walsh (0-3), M Costello (1-2, two frees), R Kinsella.

Subs: C Hickey for Kinsella (half-time), B O’Halloran for Murphy (48 mins), D Dixon for O’Connor (63), A Lynch for McGowan (63), A McDonnell for Campion (70).

LOUTH: N McDonnell; D McKenny, D Campbell, P Lynch; C Murphy, A Williams, C McKeever; T Durnin, C Grimes; P Mathews, C Downey, C Early (0-1); C Keenan (0-1), S Mulroy (0-3, two frees, one mark), R Burns (0-4).

Subs: N Sharkey for Murphy (half-time), D McKeown for Downey (54 mins), L Grey for Williams (63), W Campbell for Early (68), T Jackson (1-0) for Keenan (68).

Referee: L Devenney (Mayo).

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