Meath overcome Longford, sets stage for epic Dublin match

James

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After beating Longford, Meath is set to compete against Dublin’s All-Ireland champions in the Leinster Championship quarter-final. This victory gave Meath fans hope and raised concerns about the upcoming clash.

Six years ago, The Royals suffered a severe defeat on this field. However, this time around, they weren’t fazed by the old memories or last year’s intense defeat to Offaly. They held the reins for the majority of the standard 70-minute game.

Meath’s defensive performance

Despite letting in three goals and 12 points to a Division Four team, which is concerning ahead of the upcoming match with Dublin, Meath demonstrated impressive skills and appeared threatening for a good portion of the game. Only one point was from a free kick.

Meath showed excellent offensive play in the first half. Under Colm O’Rourke’s guidance, they utilized the wind to their advantage and showed exceptional shooting skills, scoring 1-13 compared to only two misses. A good number of these points were made from a long distance.

In the first 35 minutes, five out of the six starting forwards contributed to the score, with James Conlon scoring the first goal after 23 minutes. Many of their points came from turnovers all over the field. Longford seemed out of the race after Conlon’s goal, which increased the gap to 1-10 to 0-3, but they hit back with a quick 1-2 to another Meath point, this time Jayson Matthews scoring the crucial three-pointer.

With echoes of Seamus Darby’s legendary goal against Kerry, the player from Mullinalaghta caught a high ball, quickly turned, and shot a ball that dipped over the goalkeeper into the distant corner. The wind played a role, but it was a great moment nonetheless.

Meath seized this momentum, scoring the final two points of the half to take a 1-13 to 1-6 lead into the break. Further solidifying their advantage, Meath scored the first three points of the second half, even against the wind, effectively blocking any chance for a comeback.

Entering the final ten minutes, Longford had narrowed the point difference to seven. However, they couldn’t reduce it any further. Eoghan Frayne solidified the lead with an impressive penalty goal, but that wasn’t the end of the excitement.

During injury time, the audience witnessed a flurry of three goals within approximately two minutes, with two scored by the home team. The coach – O’Rourke, must be hoping that this sudden outburst of goals was only due to the game’s intensity reaching its end and not an indication of bigger problems to come.

Key players on both sides

J Matthews, M Hughes, and D Gallagher were major players, scoring 1-3, 1-2, and 1-1, respectively, with some points coming from free kicks. Dessie Reynolds, M Quinn, J Hagan, Daniel Reynolds, D Mimnagh, and D Farrell also made their mark with a point each for the Longford team.

Meath’s victory was truly a team effort. James Conlon was the top scorer with 1-6, closely followed by Eoghan Frayne with 1-5 (which included a penalty and a free). Jordan Morris contributed 0-4, while Cian McBride scored 1-0. Complementing this strong performance, Cian Caulfield, Ronan Jones, Shane Walsh, and Cathal Hickey each scored 0-1.

P Collum, P Fox, O. O’Toole, L. Hughes, B. Masterson, R. Moffett, Daniel Reynolds, D. Gallagher, P. Kiernan, J. Matthews, M. Quinn, J. Hagan, Dessie Reynolds, D. Mimnagh, and C. McCabe represented Longford in the game.

Meath’s team had these key players: S Brennan, D Keogan, A O’Neill, H O’Higgins, C Caulfield, R Ryan, and S Coffey in the main lineup.

The teamwork between R Jones and D McGowan led to an exciting match, with S Walsh, E Frayne, and C Hickey providing a sturdy defense. And let’s not forget about the impressive attack from J Morris, M Costello, and the standout player of the evening – J Conlon.

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