Sean Callanan’s Meath Minor panel booked their place in the Peadar Ó Liathain Cup Final after an impressive performance in Aughrim on Sunday afternoon, writes Niamh Griffin.
Peadar Ó Liathain Cup Semi-Final
Indeed, while Wicklow put up a good showing, Meath looked the better team from early in the match right through to the final whistle.
Despite the unfavorable conditions, the Meath side showcased their hurling abilities, making use of the strong breeze at their backs in the opening half to surge into an eight-point lead before turning in a superb second half playing against the elements to keep the home team at bay. While Wicklow were in the melting pot up to half time, a fast start to the second half from the Royal youngsters knocked much of the stuffing from their challenge.
Wicklow were back competing in a Minor Championship having not partaken in 2019 but Meath were the more dominant team throughout, finishing with a sixteen-point win. The young Royals will now battle it out against Down in the final next Sunday, a game which will be played in Páirc Tailteann.
With the strong breeze at their backs, the young Royals got off to a good start to proceedings with Simons Cunningham registering the opening score of the game.
Soon after, Ryan Byas who was to go on to play a starring role, secured his first point of the game. Josh Harris saw his first attempt go slightly wide but succeed in putting his second effort between the posts.
Meath continued to pop points over, with Rory Fagan’s outstanding touch enabling him to opportunity to pilfer two points and Joey Cole was deadly accurate from frees. With his consistent accuracy, he managed to put over 6 points throughout the game. With Wicklow having just three points on the score board at the first interval, it was not looking overly positive for the Garden County side.
However, Wicklow started to come back in the second half. Their ever-dangerous full forward Gavin Rochford secured the first goal of the game after showing great awareness to create the opportunity, making the score 1-06 to 0-16. Meath however, were in no humour for their lead to be whittled down and replied in kind only moments later when full forward Josh Harris succeeded in putting their first goal on the scoreboard after doing very well to ride a couple of robust challenges before rifling the sliothar to the back of the net.
From here on in Meath were never going to be caught as they began to dominate once more all over the pitch.
Team captain Justin Coyne from Killyon who was masterful throughout, turned in a man of the match performance, playing at centre back clearing every ball that came in his direction. The full back line of Harry Cottrell from Trim, Robert Ennis from Rathmolyon and Evan Cole from Clann na nGael all played a big part in not letting Wicklow register many scores with the intensity of their tackling being a hallmark of their performance throughout the hour.
At the second half water break the score line was Meath 1-17 Wicklow 1-06. There was to be no letup in Meath’s performance as Joey Cole got their first score upon the resumption. To their great credit Wicklow never stopped plugging away and Gavin Rochford added three further points while Eoin Byrne bisected the uprights with a well taken free. With the home side having to push up the field in search of the scores needed to reel in the Royals, space opened up for the Meath forwards as Rory Fagan and Ryan Byas added on points. Before the final whistle sounded there was still time for the ever-impressive Jack Meagher and Eoghan Grehan to register further goals as Callanan’s charges struck for home.
SCORERS: Meath – Simon Cunningham 0-1, Ryan Byas 0-3, Josh Harris 1-2, Jack Meagher 1-3, Joey Cole 0-6 (6f), Rory Fagan 0-3, Shaun Donnelly 0-1, Justin Coyne 0-1, Eoghan Grehan 1-0. Wicklow – Gavin Rochford 1-4 (3f, 1 ’65′), Eoin Byrne 0-5, Bill O’Brien 0-1 (1f).
MEATH: Jack Fagan; Robert Ennis, Harry Cottrell, Evan Cole; Peter Connolly, Justin Coyne, Paddy Barnwell; Joey Cole, Eoghan Grehan; Ryan Byas, Jack Meagher, Shaun Donnelly, Rory Fagan, Josh Harris, Simon Cunningham. SUBS: Kristopher O’Gorman for Barnwell 28 mins, Dennis Darby for Donnelly 46 mins, Ciaran Rogers for Cunningham 49 mins, Eoin Donegan for E Cole 57 mins, Liam Callanan for Harris 58 mins,
WICKLOW: Meitheal Cleary; Charlie Chamney; Dylan Byrne; Shane Arthur; Ciaran Harmon; Tommy Collins; Fiachra Downey; Rory Martin; Jamie Ryan; Sam Gough; Charlie Cruise; TJ O’Neill; Bill O’Brien; Gavin Rochford; Eoin Byrne. SUBS: Austin Brennan for S. Arthur, John O’Brien for Charlie Chamney, James Ffrench for Rochford 57 mins.
REFEREE: Padraig Dunne (Laois)