Leinster MHC: Royals prevail after thriller

April 27, 2013

Meath's Ryan Raleigh strikes as Westmeath's Shane Farrelly tries to hook during the Leinster MHC clash at Lomans Park Trim
Meath scored a thrilling Leinster MHC win over neighbours Westmeath at Trim on Saturday afternoon.

Meath ............... 2-17
Westmeath ....... 2-13

There was an 11-point turnaround in Meath's favour over the course of the hour after the Royals failed to register in the opening third of the game.

Twenty minutes in Meath were seven points down when playing into the breeze. Just over 30 minutes later they led by as many points.

When Westmeath rallied in the final minutes, Meath showed the necessary resolve to stave off their neighbours' challenge and advance.

Meath moved 1-14 to 1-9 clear heading into the final quarter when Rathmolyon's Jack Fagan steered Sean Quigley's cross to the Westmeath net.

Two pointed Jack Regan frees extended Meath's lead. However the gap was down to just two points by the 54th minute thanks mainly to a well-worked Cillian Doyle goal.

Meath nerves were eased when Josh Wall and Fagan combined to set up Mark Healy for the home side's second goal at the town end. The Royals had corner-forward Sean Doyle sent-off on receipt of two yellow cards in the final quarter.

Healy's 56th minute goal effectively determined the outcome while Westmeath's Darragh Clinton was wide with a goal attempt from a free in the last action of the game.

With the elements in their favour Westmeath opened on the front foot, registering 1-4 without reply in the opening 16 minutes.

As Meath chalked up four wides, Westmeath kept the scoreboard operator active. Michael Daly pointed boys in maroon in front inside two minutes.

Shortly after Westmeath 'keeper Conor Dolan saved well from Jack Fagan. Alan Cox posted Westmeath's second score seven minutes in. It was initially waved wide before being given good by a vigilant linesman.

Daly registered again when flicking a Cillian Doyle centre to the Meath net in the ninth minute for what proved to be the only goal of the opening half.

Points from Darragh Clinton (free) and Doyle left Westmeath seven points to the good heading into the second quarter.

Nearly 21 minutes had passed before Meath erased their blank off the board through midfielder Stefan Kelly. Five points in as many minutes revived the Royals bid. Two Josh Wall efforts were the pick of the home side's scores.

Further points from Jack Fagan and wing-back David Reilly with half-time beckoning tied the scores at the break, 0-7 to 1-4. Within seconds of the restart Sean Doyle had Meath in front for the first time.

The scores were tied four times in the third quarter while Westmeath led by 1-9 to 0-10 after 38 minutes. Three points in quick succession - including a pointed Jack Regan 65 - saw Meath regain the lead before the end of the third quarter.

Ken McKenna's charges retained that advantage to the end despite a sterling Westmeath effort.

The outcome spells the end of Westmeath's interest in this year's competition while a trip to Laois next Saturday is Meath's reward for success here.

Scorers: Meath - Jack Regan 0-6 (4fs, 1 65); Jack Fagan 1-2; Mark Healy 1-1; Josh Wall, David Reilly, Sean Doyle 0-2 each; Sean Quigley, Stefan Kelly 0-1 each.

Westmeath - Cillian Doyle 1-4; Michael Daly 1-1; Ciaran Doyle 0-4; Darragh Clinton 0-2; Luke Loughlin, Alan Cox 0-1 each.

Meath - Adam Shelley; Martin Healy, Charlie Bird, Gareth Rooney; Luke Swayne, Luke Rickard, David Reilly; Stefan Kelly, Ryan Raleigh; Sean Quigley, Jack Regan, Josh Wall; Sean Doyle, Mark Healy, Jack Fagan. Subs - Conor Sheerin for Rooney (27).

Westmeath - Conor Dolan; Sean Quinn, Patrick O'Reilly, Adrian Garvey; Shane Farrelly, Ciaran Crentsil, Robbie Gillen; Michael Heeney, Jack Carroll; Alan Cox, Darragh Clinton, Cillian Doyle; Warren Casserly, Luke Loughlin, Michael Daly. Subs - Ciaran Doyle for Loughlin (27), Loughlin for Carroll (33), Darren Giles for Cox (43), Paddy Lynam for Casserly (45).

Referee - Kevin Brady (Louth).

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