HL2B: Royals repel Rossies' rally

March 17, 2017

Meath and Dunboyne star Sean Quigley

Scores banked in the opening half ensured Meath had enough to see off Roscommon in this rearranged NHL Division 2 B round three fixture at Ashbourne on Thursday night.

Meath ................ 2-16
Roscommon ....... 1-16

Stoppage time points from Sean Quigley (free) and Kevin Keena sealed a fourth win for Meath. Roscommon, seeking their first points, outscored the home side by 1-9 to 0-4 after the break to trail by the narrowest margin, 1-16 to 2-14, after 66 minutes.

Much changed from the side that beat Mayo (away) by 10 points four days earlier, two first-half Neil Heffernan goals were central to the Royals' fourth win of the campaign.

The outcome copperfastens Meath's NHL Division 2B final meeting with Wicklow, ahead of the sides' round five meeting on Sunday week.

Backed by the breeze on a bitterly cold evening, Meath made the early running but were just 0-5 to 0-4 ahead midway through the opening half.

While John Coyne was doing his best with some great efforts from play for the visitors, Meath were keeping Roscommon at bay.

Two of the Roscommon number 11's efforts in quick succession levelled matters for the only time at  0-3-all seven minutes in.

Heffernan goaled in the 19th and 24th minutes. The second left it 2-8 to 0-6. Then Michael O'Grady assisted his Dunboyne clubmate Sean Quigley in getting one of the points of the game.

Quigley assumed most of the free-taking duties and finished with 0-10 to his credit. Meath were 10 points clear by the 27th minute. Roscommon were unfortunate that efforts from Gary Fallon (free) and Naos Connaughton hit the frame of the goal in first-half stoppage time.

Meath led by 2-10 to 0-7 at half-time. Roscommon resumed with intent and trimmed the deficit to five points, 2-11 to 1-9, within 13 minutes. Cathal Kenny's goal on the run was central to this flourish. They might have got even closer but Shane McGann saved well from a Paddy Kelly free.

Midway through the half the gap was down to a goal, 2-11 to 1-11, following a Gary Fallon free. Roscommon used their momentum to cut the gap to the narrowest by the 67th minute.

But for eight second-half wides (to Meath's three) Roscommon, who were promoted at the end of the 2016 league campaign, might have pulled off a surprise win here.

A Quigley free steadied Meath while Roscommon lost Micheal Byrne to a second yellow card. Kevin Keena, on as a sub, posted the final score with help from David Reilly.

Meath - Shane McGann; Liam Ferguson, Shane Whitty, Cormac Reilly; Padraig Kelly, Keith Keoghan, David Reilly (0-1); Michael O'Grady, Sean Quigley (0-10, 7fs); Mark O'Sullivan (0-1), Cathal McCabe, Jack Walsh; Luke Martyn, Gavin McGowan (0-2), Neil Heffernan (2-0). Subs - Daragh Kelly for Kelly (ht), Shane Brennan for Walsh (ht), Kevin Keena (0-2) for Martyn (50), Damian Healy for McCabe (59).

Roscommon - Jerry Fallon; Alan Moore, Peter Kellehan, David Loughnane; Paddy Kelly, Michael Byrne, Jason Kilkenny; Shane Curley, Eamon Flanagan (0-4, 3fs 1 65); Cathal Dolan (0-3), John Coyne (0-4), Eoghan Costello (0-1); Cathal Kenny (1-1), Gary Fallon (0-3 2fs), Naos Connaughton. Sub - David Dowd for Fallon (ht).

Referee - Rory McGann (Clare)

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