Meath 7-14 Longford 0-1
Meath began their second LIDL Division 3 League game in windy Dunganny with another emphatic victory.
The Royal stall was set out early, full court press from the off and continued unabated for sixty minutes of relentless hard graft. Longford opened with confidence and moved the ball from defense with style but the Meath ladies simply upped the pressure. Winning possession time and time again in a tricky crosswind, the Royal recycled the ball until a runner appeared on a shoulder to inflict damage.
A conservative four points on the board after ten minutes, two massive saves from the Longford keeper Monica Bannon merely postponed a goal fest. A first half hat trick from Vikki Wall gave Meath the high ground and left Longford at sea. Despite Wall scoring her goals, the Royal ladies came like waves onto the Longford defense. Emma Troy, a defender ate up yards with selfless diagonal runs that opened space up for her attacking sextet. She got one score herself, but her willingness to do the hard yards define this team.
Points came with regularity. Niamh O'Sullivan leading the scoring with quick fire points. A captain leading by example! In truth though, this team are well primed and motivated. Gallogly, Peel and Powderly not alone defended, they also attacked in waves. Again the midfield duo of Kate Byrne and Marie O'Shaughnessy were the launch pad and also picked up most Longford clearances. Half time came and Meath led by 3-10 to a single point. Like last week, Longford weren't bad, simply, Meath were much better.
The management with a clever eye on game management of the girls endeavors, college and work commitments , ran in the subs for the second half. Normally with a deluge of substitutions, a match drifts and peters out into indifference. Not this match. Each Meath sub played as if she had a personal point to prove. The withdrawal of some of the first fifteen allowed Aoibhin Cleary to come into her own. Her pace is excellent as is her decision making. Her eye for goal is good too. Laura Dempsey continued the stranglehold at midfield and Marion Farrelly kicked two peach points.
Each sub quickly came up to tempo with the girls on the pitch who had set a hot pace. It was relentless and though the match was a foregone conclusion, each girl out there was telling the management team, "we are ready for a spot". Nothing beats competition and the Royal bench is in a good place. Additionally a calm and focused management under Eamon Murray sets the tone and the ladies respond. Approaching the last minute, Meath were as focused as they were from the throw in.
Last week Megan Thynne and Stacey Grimes set Down on fire. This week Thynne was rested at the start and Grimes simply ground her marker into dust. She became link and provider as the scores rained down. There is more in her armory than just a scorer. Alison O'Sullivan, Dunboyne All Ireland winning keeper, made her intercounty debut as a substitute for Judy Bobbett. Though the Royal girls racked up big scores, Bobbett was the epitome of concentration with a few top drawer saves.
Next week the Royal bandwagon head to Hyde Park stadium Roscommon. A new challenge, different surroundings but the task remains the same. A game to be won, points to be collected. A step up in opponent intensity is expected. Watching this group of ladies, that challenge will be welcomed by them.
Meath scorers: V. Wall (3-0), A. Cleary (2-1), N. Gallogly (1-2), L. Dempsey (1-0), N. O'Sullivan (0-2), M. Farrelly (0-2), K. Byrne (0-2), E. Troy (0-1), B. Keogh (0-1), S. Grimes (0-1) E. White (0-1).
Meath: Judy Bobbett, Siofra Cleary, Orlagh Lally, Sarah Powderly, Emma Troy, Michelle Peel, Niamh Gallogly, Kate Byrne, Maire O'Shaughnessy, Bláthnaid Keogh, Niamh O'Sullivan, Aoibhin Cleary, Stacey Grimes, Vikki Wall, Emma White.
Subs: Alison O'Sullivan for Bobbett, Niamh Lister for Powderly, Katie Bellew for Gallogly, Laura Dempsey for K. Byrne, Megan Thynne for Keogh, Shauna Ennis for Peel, Aoibheann Leahy for N. O'Sullivan, Marion Farrelly for V. Wall, Karley Leavy for Troy.
Longford: Monica Bannon, Maria Kelleher, Leanne Keegan, Ailish Noonan, Caitriona Moore, Michelle Noonan, Claire Farrell, Mairead Reynolds, Emer O'Brien. Mairead Moore, Emer Heaney, Aisling Cosgrove, Aisling Greene, Aoife Darcy, Lauren Burke 0-1