On this day, Antrim looked as if they were on their way to a straightforward victory in the Christy Ring Cup final when they built up a commanding 1-5 to 0-1 lead in the early stages but Meath staged a remarkable recovery to lift the silverware at Croke Park. However, there was some confusion afterwards about the final score...
The day was June 04, 2016
The score? 2-18 to 1-20?
June 04, 2016
Christy Ring Cup final: Royals reign after sensational comeback
Meath came back from the dead to claim the Christy Ring Cup with a magnificent 2-18 to 1-20 victory over Antrim at Croke Park.
Trailing by 1-19 to 1-14 with 13 minutes left, the winners hit 1-4 to a solitary reply in the closing stages to seal a famous win, with sub Sean Quigley supplying the crucial goal in the 70th minute, although there was confusion over the final scoreline, which we might hear much more about...
The Glensmen looked to be certs when leading by nine points during the first half but Meath kept plugging away and won the day as Quigley's last-gasp 1-1 salvo saw them move ahead for the first time to claim victory at the death.
Martin Ennis' men appeared to be dead and buried at the end of the first quarter, trailing by 1-5 to 0-1, and were six adrift at the break but managed to get their noses in front when it mattered most.
The losers led by 1-10 to 0-7 at the end of a low-key first half, with Conor Johnston delivering the goal on 14 minutes. There was a sign of things to come, however, as the Royals hit four of the last five scores before the short whistle, their nervy start having left them with a mountain to climb.
Ciaran Clarke's first-minute '65' gave the northerners an encouraging start but the second score of the game didn't arrive until James Connolly found the target in the twelfth minute. Johnston added Antrim's third but captain James Toher replied from a Meath free.
Johnston sent a shot to the right corner of the Meath net on 14 minutes and quickfire points from distance from Niall McKenna and Eddie McCloskey left seven points between the teams, 1-5 to 0-1. Connolly pointed from beneath the Hogan Stand to stretch the gap to eight by the end of the opening quarter.
Meath's Sean Quigley celebrates scoring the winning point in injury time against Antrim in the Christy Ring Cup final at Croke Park. ©INPHO/Tom Beary.
Clarke added another and Toher clipped over a free from in front of the posts at the other end. Connolly replied with his third nonchalant point from play. After Toher registered the Royals' first score from play in the 25th minute, Eoghan Campbell and Joey Keena traded points; Adam Gannon and Sean Heavey - with a stunning score - gave the underdogs hope with their second and third successive scores before John Dillon - a late addition to the Antrim starting XV - and Toher (free) closed the first-half scoring.
The Saffrons got two of the first three points after the restart but the game was back in the melting pot when full forward Neil Heffernan ran through to net a terrific solo goal on 41 minutes - 1-12 to 1-8. Clarke and Meath wing back Keith Keoghan swapped points before Gannon reduced the arrears to just three points with a 45th-minute strike.
Keena closed the gap further and Toher (free) cancelled out a Johnston score before McCloskey nailed a sensational Antrim point from the left wing - 1-15 to 1-12. Clarke (2) and McCloskey followed up to leave six between the sides and points from Joey and Kevin Keena were followed by a lovely Connolly fetch and finish - 1-19 to 1-14 with 13 minutes left.
Keoghan and Gannon had the Royals back within four, with McKenna grabbing his third in between - 1-20 to 1-16. Captain Conor Carson seemed to have scored but apparently Antrim's lead at this stage was still three - not four and not five. Sub Quigley smashed what was construed as the levelling goal to the net in the 70th minute and then arrowed over the winner as we witnessed another amazing but controverial finish at GAA HQ today.
Antrim will feel - with some justification - that there had been a miscalculation on the scoreboard, but the long and short of it is that Meath have been presented with the silverware and the Glensmen will be on the second tier again in 2017.
Meath - S McGann; S Geraghty, D Donoghue, R Sherlock; S Brennan, D Healy, K Keoghan (0-2); S Heavey (0-1), S Morris, J Toher (0-5f), J Keena (0-3), A Gannon (0-3); G McGowan, N Heffernan (1-1), S Clynch. Subs: K Keena (0-1) for S Clynch, S Whitty for G McGowan, S Quigley (1-1) for N Heffernan.
Antrim - C O'Connell; S McCrory, T McCloskey, M Burke; O McFadden, N McAuley, C McKinley (0-1); E Campbell (0-1), N McKenna (0-3); E McCloskey (0-3), C Carson (0-1), J Connolly (0-3); C Johnston (1-2), J Dillon (0-1), C Clarke (0-5, 1f, 1'65). Subs: P Burke for M Burke, M Dudley for J Dillon, F Donnelly for O McFadden.
Referee - J McGrath.Tweet