Meath Inflict Minor Heartache as Late Goals Sink Mayo

Posted: August 26, 2012 in GAA
Tags: , , , ,

All-Ireland MFC Semi-Final: Meath 2-10 Mayo 1-11 

 

WITH five minutes of the second half gone, Michael Plunkett made a lung bursting run from corner back deep into the Meath half. As he drew the defence, Ballinrobe’s James Quinn moved inside the cover, took the pass from Plunkett and  blasted the ball over the bar.

The goal was on but at that stage a point seemed like a satisfactory result. It moved Mayo seven points clear and was an defiant response to losing two of their most influential forwards, Eoghan Lavin and Sean Regan, through a sickening clash of heads moments earlier.

In a game where Mayo rode their luck in the opening minutes to an alarming degree, that point and the loss of Lavin and Regan signalled the reversal of that good fortune. Inexplicably, Mayo failed to score for the next 28 minutes, by which stage Meath had plundered 2-4 and deservedly moved into a decisive lead.

The game was only a couple of seconds old when a long ball into the Mayo half was narrowly flicked wide of the post by James McEntee. This set the trend for the next ten minutes with first O’Sullivan and then full forward Stephen Coogan, foiled by the crossbar and goalkeeper Michael O’Malley.

It was an extraordinary ten minutes that should have seen Meath already home and dry but instead ended up with Mayo leading by three points thanks to some economical forward play, the pick of the points coming from the impressive Sean Regan.

It took Meath until the 17th minute to get on the board, but true to their opening form this was quickly followed by a bad wide from the otherwise brilliant Cillian O’Sullivan. Meath’s ineptitude in front of goal seemed to encourage Mayo and they began to establish themselves in the game.  After Eoghan Lavin did well at centre field, a move involving Adam Gallagher and James Quinn ended with Diarmuid O’Connor squeezing the ball over the line.

Patrick Durcan was pushing forward all day and he got his reward with a point to push Mayo ahead by seven points for the first time. Gallagher was Mayo’s driving force and inspiration, while the full back line, in particular Gerathy and Moran were showing a propensity and worryingly, a need for coming up with last-ditch tackles.

Meath had closed the gap to four at the break but by five minutes of the second half it was out to seven again thanks to two points from Gallagher. That was to be as good as it got for Mayo as Meath gradually began to peg them back, with Cillian O’Sullivan causing huge problems for the Mayo defence and Ward unerring from place balls.

On a perfect day for football, a deftness of touch evaded both sides. In the end it was Mayo who were the sloppier, in particular their lack of precision in working the ball out of defence, which proved fatal in the end. It was a turnover that allowed Cillian O’Sullivan to reduce the gap to three points with six minutes remaining, before the crucial score of the game moments later.

As the recovered Sean Regan went to collect a looping pass near the sideline, he was blatantly pushed out of play by Patrick Kelly. However, no whistle came and despite Mayo regaining possesion, another lose pass out of defence was severely punished by O’Sullivan who broke through, his low shot ricocheting of the diving Adam Gallagher’s legs. The foot/leg block lacked intent or malice but the penalty was awarded. Fiachra Ward’s spot kick was Mendieta–esque in its tame trajectory, but it deceived O’Malley and glanced of him into the corner to draw Meath level.

In the end when Meath’s winner came there was a sense of the inevitable about it. As the game moved into injury time, Pauric Harran, who was influential all day, drove through the middle and after a scramble, the ball fell into the path of substitute Paddy Kennelly who smashed it home. Stephen Coen pulled one back at the death; it was Mayo’s first score in 28 minutes. If ever a statistic told the story of a game.

 

Man of the Match: Cillian O’Sullivan – The man from Moynalvey was a constant thorn in the Mayo side and spearheaded Meath’s comeback. Scored two points but was involved in many more.

Meath Scorers: Fiachra Ward (1-3), Patrick Kennelly (1-0), Jason Daly (0-2), Cillian O’Sullivan (0-2), Pauric Harnan (0-1), James McEntee (0-1), Ruairi O Coileain (0-1)

Mayo Scorers: Diarmuid O’Connor (1-0), Adam Gallagher (0-3), Stephen Coen (0-2), Eoghan Lavin (0-2), Sean Regan (0-1), Shane Hennelly (0-1), Patrick Durcan (0-1), James Quinn (0-1)

MEATH: Robert Burlingham (Simonstown Gaels); Declan Smyth (Dunsany), Brian Power (Ratoath), Shane Gallagher (Simonstown Gaels); Conor Carton (Donaghmore/Ashbourne), Shane McEntee (St Peter’s Dunboyne/Kilbride), Seamus Lavin (St Peter’s Dunboyne/Kilbride); Pauric Harnan (Jenkinstown Gaels), Adam Flanagan (Clonard); Cillian O’Sullivan (Jenkinstown Gaels), Jason Daly (St Peter’s Dunboyne/Kilbride), James McEntee (St Vincent’s/Curraha); Barry Dardis (Summerhill), Stephen Coogan (Dunderry), Fiachra Ward (Wolfe Tones).

MAYO: Conor O’Malley (Westport); Joe Geraghty (Ballintubber), Sean Moran (Kiltimagh), Michael Plunkett (Ballintubber); Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels), Cian Burke (Ardnaree Sarsfields), Kevin Lynch (Mayo Gaels); Brian Mullen (Westport), Adam Gallagher (Mayo Gaels); Eoghan Lavin (Kiltimagh), Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore), Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber); James Quinn (Ballinrobe), Sean Regan (Ballina Stephenites), Shane Hennelly (Shrule/Glencorrib).

REFEREE: Fergal Barry

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