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CONTENTS CLUB BALLINABRACKEY . . . . . . . . . 222 BALLINLOUGH . . . . . . . . . . . . . 703 BALLIVOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 494 BECTIVE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 208 BLACKHALL GAELS . . . . . . . . 250 BOARDSMILL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 388 CARNAROSS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 369 CASTLETOWN . . . . . . . . . . . . . 592 CLANN NA NGAEL . . . . . . . . . . 512 CLONARD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258 CORTOWN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196 CURRAHA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 437 DONAGHMORE/ASHBOURNE . 628 DRUMBARAGH . . . . . . . . . . . . 652 DRUMCONRATH . . . . . . . . . . . .698 DRUMREE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 396 DULEEK/BELLEWSTOWN . . . . 353 DUNBOYNE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 417 DUNDERRY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 688 DUNSANY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216

DUNSHAUGHLIN . . . . . . . . . . . 338 GAEIL COLMCILLE . . . . . . . . . 270 KILBRIDE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229 KILDALKEY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 566 KILLYON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234 KILMAINHAM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 658 KILMAINHAMWOOD . . . . . . . . . 376 KILMESSAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381 KILSKYRE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 536 KILTALE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238 LONGWOOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 615 MEATH HILL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265 MOYLAGH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 544 MOYNALTY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 504 MOYNALVEY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 716 NA FIANNA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299 NAVAN O’MAHONY’S . . . . . . . . 549 NOBBER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 458 OLDCASTLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .286 RATHKENNY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .200

RATHMOLYON . . . . . . . . . . . . . 622 RATOATH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 481 SENESCHALSTOWN . . . . . . . . 444 SIMONSTOWN GAELS . . . . . . . 527 SKRYNE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 408 SLANE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 321 ST BRIGIDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 401 ST COLMCILLES . . . . . . . . . . . .664 ST CUTHBERTS . . . . . . . . . . . 194 ST MARYS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 364 ST MICHAELS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 310 ST PATRICKS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 580 ST PAULS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 316 ST ULTANS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 ST VINCENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430 SUMMERHILL . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600 SYDDAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243 TRIM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 672 WALTERSTOWN . . . . . . . . . . . 330 WOLFE TONES . . . . . . . . . . . . 468

COUNTY Chairman’s address . . . . . . . . . . 2 Editor’s welcome . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Senior football . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Senior hurling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 U21 football . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Minor hurling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Senior ladies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 U21 hurling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Junior football . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Seamus McEnaney . . . . . . . . . . 41 Donal Smyth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 1986 Leinster win . . . . . . . . . . . 47 VS Football . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Camogie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Ollie Geraghty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Peter Darby . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Tony Fox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65

Ray Cunningham . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Supporters Club . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Seamus Kenny . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Gerry from Dunganny . . . . . . . . 79 Handball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 1911 Croke Cup win . . . . . . . . . 86 Cian Ward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Mick O’Brien . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 Noel Moran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 Tom Duff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 Martin Doyle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Greg Ennis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 Tony McDonnell . . . . . . . . . . . 108 Colm Doherty . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 Hurling Team of the Year . . . . 114 Football Team of the Year . . . . 116 Rory Donnelly . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118

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Dr Gerry Cummins . . . . . . . . . 121 Minor football . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Friends we lost . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 Peter McDermott . . . . . . . . . . . 143 David McGowan . . . . . . . . . . . . 146 Ladies Colleges . . . . . . . . . . . 148 Coaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 Eamonn McGovern . . . . . . . . . 153 Nicky Horan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158 Myra Flaherty . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163 Pat Clarke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170 David Farrell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176 Valley Cafe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178 Enda Tyrrell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182 John Smyth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 712 Shane Kelly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 728 Cumann na mBunscol . . . . . . 730


The Meath senior squad for the Leinster Championship game against Kildare at Croke Park, front l/r: Paddy Gilsenan, Conor Gillespie, Gary O'Brien, Graham Reilly, Stephen Bray, Ciaran Lenihan, Brian Menton, Seamus Kenny, Cian Ward, Chris O'Connor. Back: Caomhin King, Anthony Moyles, Mark Ward, Shane McAnarney, Kevin Reilly, Paddy O'Rourke, Brendan Murphy, Nigel Crawford, Joe Sheridan, Jamie Queeney, Brian Meade, Paddy Coakley, Mark O'Sullivan, Brian Farrell, Shane O'Rourke, Graham Geraghty

KILDARE TORMENT BANTY’S BOYS Meath supporters must be sick of the sight of the Kildare jersey after they inflicted a trio of defeats on Seamus McEnaney’s side in 2011, including in the crucial Leinster championship and All-Ireland qualifier games.

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t’s official – Kildare are Meath’s new bogey team. Not content with knocking them out of last year’s championship at the AllIreland quarter-final stage, Kieran McGeeney’s charges returned to inflict even more pain on the Royal County this year when they firstly ended their reign as Leinster champions before putting them out of the All-Ireland race barely a month later. Throw in last April’s National League defeat in Newbridge, which included the infamous sideline clash of McGeeney and ‘Banty’ after the final whistle, and it’s easy to see why the Lilywhites have become such a thorn in Meath’s side. While many would argue that Meath have better players, Kildare’s supreme organisation and fitness levels, coupled with their greater composure in front of goal, tilted the balance in all three of this year’s clashes. But it wasn’t just Kildare who caused headaches for Meath and

their first ‘outside’ manager in 2011. In the National League, Laois, Donegal, Derry and Antrim all triumphed over the Royals, leaving them facing the unthinkable prospect of being relegated to Division 3 ahead of their final game against Tyrone. But against all the odds and in true Meath fashion, the embattled green and golds staged a terrific comeback which ended in a draw with the Red Hands and this, combined with Kildare’s last-gasp victory over Sligo in Newbridge, saw them stay in Division 2 by the skin of their teeth. Of course, Meath supporters would have expected a lot more from their team and it’s amazing to think that a season that promised so much only yielded three competitive victories against Sligo (in the National League), Louth and Galway (both in the All-Ireland qualifiers). Whether or not the Meath players were left psychologically scarred by the fallout from last year’s Leinster final 6

it’s impossible to tell, but there was a definite cloud hanging over the camp all season. Players who had performed to such a high standard in 2010 struggled to reach the same heights this year with the forward line, in particular, looking only a pale shadow of its former self for long spells. Seamus McEnaney’s response was to recall Graham Geraghty after three years in retirement. And while there was some opposition to this sensational move, the 38-year-old showed in his brief comeback – which was unfortunately cut short by injury – that he still has what it takes at this level by scoring a goal within moments of his introduction against Kildare in the Leinster championship, only to have it wrongly ruled out for a ‘square ball’ infringement by the referee. The decision to recall the 1999 AllIreland winning captain on the eve of the championship was almost as controversial as McEnaney’s own


Brian Meade gets in his shot against Kildare

appointment as manager late last year. Despite strong opposition to his candidature in some quarters, delegates voted 53-19 in favour of the former Monaghan boss becoming the Royal County’s first ‘outside’ manager. In another break with tradition, the Corduff man – who became Meath’s fifth manager in seven years and replaced Eamonn O’Brien who was unexpectedly ousted after delivering a first Delaney Cup in nine years – was granted a three-year term with a review after two years. His backroom team consisted of former Meath All-Ireland winners Liam Harnan and Barry Callaghan, exArmagh and Kildare assistant manager Paul Grimley and former Cavan manager Martin McElkennon, who was appointed as the team’s strength and conditioning coach. However, Harnan and Callaghan were gone before the championship, having decided to step down over an apparent lack of

consultation on the decision to recall Graham Geraghty. They were eventually replaced by just one selector – the popular Clonee native and former Ballinlough manager Tom Keague. Despite an extensive search for new talent and giving over 50 players game time, McEnaney struggled to find a winning formula. The tone for the season was set when Meath lost their O’Byrne Cup opener to the students of UCD. They recovered to beat Kilkenny and Laois in the O’Byrne Shield, only to lose an entertaining final to Dublin after extra time in Parnell Park. The National League was a frustrating affair with a first round loss to Laois in O’Moore Park immediately putting the new management under pressure. Meath lost four more games, but still avoided relegation by virtue of their superior score difference (+1) to Sligo’s. Supporters hoped the 8

championship and the challenge of retaining the Delaney Cup would bring the best out of Banty’s boys. But not even Graham Geraghty’s introduction could save them from a first round exit at the hands of Kildare in Croke Park. With the O’Rourke cousins, Shane and Paddy, joining Joe Sheridan in a physically imposing full forward line, Meath put their early season problems behind them with a fine first half display which saw them lead by 0-7 to 0-5 at the break. But a John Doyle point straight from the throw-in signalled a strong Kildare recovery and they had got their noses in front before substitute Brian Farrell was controversially sent off following a tangle with Kildare’s Emmett Bolton in the 52nd minute (Farrell’s appeal against the red card was amazingly thrown out by the CCCC). Four points down and badly in need of some inspiration, the evergreen Geraghty looked to have provided it when he rose highest to


Joe Sheridan heads for goal against Kildare at Croke Park

fist past Shane Connolly in the Kildare goal. But following consultation with his umpires, referee Syl Doyle disallowed it, much to the dismay of the Meath faithful in the stands. It was impossible to escape the notion that the ‘Sluddengate’ affair had influenced the Wexford official’s decision to disallow what TV replays showed was a perfectly good goal. Following that let-off, Kildare pushed on to win by 0-16 to 0-10 and so the backdoor beckoned for the Royals. Amazingly, Meath were paired with Louth in a repeat of what was arguably the most controversial GAA game of all time. Not surprisingly, there was huge interest in the fixture which provided both teams with an opportunity

David Morgan against Sligo in the NFL

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Graham Geraghty celebrates his goal against Kildare and the umpire reaches for the green flag, but referee Syl Doyle intervened to rule it was a square ball

to put things right. Played before a bumper crowd of 18,243 in neutral Kingspan Breffni Park, the game was keenly contested early on, but once the recalled Cian Ward found his rhythm, there was only going to be one outcome. Ward smashed an incredible 4-3 to

send the Wee County packing on a 5-8 to 1-8 scoreline. No controversy, acrimony or complaints from Louth – just a job well done by Meath, and by Ward in particular. Indeed, the Wolfe Tones sharpshooter could have had six goals on a day when the Royals reigned supreme over their most bitter rivals and also got

Kevin Reilly holds off Padraig Joyce of Galway

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their championship campaign back on track. Despite the comprehensive manner of their victory over Louth, doubts continued to persist about Meath’s consistency. On the evidence of their disastrous showing against Mayo in the Connacht championship, Galway were on a level just ahead of Louth, yet Seamus McEnaney’s men needed to play their “get out of jail” card to beat them before an expectant home crowd in Navan. Meath were good value for their 0-8 to 0-4 lead at half-time, with defenders Gary O’Brien and Shane McAnarney among the scorers. But they faded completely out of the game after the restart as Galway stormed back to lead going into injury-time. Fortunately, the home side awoke from their slumber just in time to claim a 0-11 to 0-10 victory thanks to late points from Brian Farrell and Stephen Bray. But goalkeeper Brendan Murphy emerged as Meath’s match-winner after making


Cian Ward wheels away after scoring his second goal of the All-Ireland SFC Qualifier against Louth

a save from Cormac Bane in the last action to deny the Tribesmen victory. Unsurprisingly, there were groans of despair from many supporters when the Royals were drawn against Kildare in the third round of the All-Ireland qualifiers. However, with home advantage again, Seamus McEnaney’s men were up for the challenge, seeing it as an opportunity to avenge their earlier defeats to their southern neighbours. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Despite a brave effort, Meath had no answer to another late surge from the Lilywhites that propelled them to a 2-11 to 0-14 win. Extra-time beckoned when the sides were level on 1-9 to 0-12 with seven minutes of normal time remaining, but just as they had done in Croke Park six weeks earlier, the super-fit Lilywhites finished the stronger by scoring an unanswered 1-2 in three blistering minutes to effectively end the game as a contest. Attacking wing back Emmett Bolton accounted for 1-1 of that tally, with his fisted goal coming after an excellent build-up involving impressive substitute James Kavanagh and Tomas O’Connor, while another sub, Ronan Sweeney, landed the other point to put five in it for the first time. Meath, to their credit, responded with late frees from Stephen Bray and substitute Brian Farrell, but time ran out on them as Kildare justified their favouritism. Despite the awful weather conditions, a 20,000-strong crowd flocked to Pairc Tailteann for what was a typically hard-fought affair between the neighbouring counties. And while Meath were still in it with five minutes to go,

they were much too reliant on the free-taking of Cian Ward who accounted for 0-8 (0-7 from frees) of their tally. Meath did well to recover from the concession of an early penalty, which John Doyle expertly converted, to trail by just two points at the break, 0-7 to 1-6. They restored parity on the restart and the game remained in the balance until Kildare’s late push yielded the decisive scores. Meath were left to wonder what might have been if their captain Seamus Kenny, who shadowed the roving Bolton for most of the game, hadn’t been forced to retire with a head injury just minutes before the Eadestown clubman scored the clinching goal. “The crucial point was from 12 minutes to go to eight minutes to go,” Seamus McEnaney contended. “Seamus Kenny went off in that period but the sides were level and we had three or four opportunities to possibly go one or two points up and we took the wrong options. In that particular period, there were four breaking balls and Kildare won four of them and that’s Seamus Kenny’s speciality. “Stephen Bray came out to the half forward line and Paddy (O’Rourke) went in full forward. We’re not pointing the fingers anywhere. It’s a team game and you go to the man closest to you to put pressure on him.” While McEnaney could take encouragement from his side’s progress during the championship after such a miserable start to the year, he will know that the Meath football public expects better. Now the challenge is for him to deliver.

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The starting XV for the Kehoe Cup game against Roscommon, front l/r: Mark Lynch, Barry Slevin, David Kirby, Ger O'Neill, Paul Fagan, David Donoghue, Paudge Geoghegan. Back: Padraig Muldoon, Martin Horan, Nicky Horan, Enda Fitzgerald, Shane McCann, Stephen Clynch, Joey Keena, Willie Mahady

GARDEN PARTY IN FEBRUARY Meath's senior hurlers got their 2011 season off to a barnstorming start when they collected the Kehoe Cup in early February, beating Wicklow in the final at Arklow. By collecting the silverware, Cillian Farrell's charges had issued a clear statement of intent.

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he Royal County bridged a three-year gap when they defeated Wicklow by 0-16 to 1-11 to lift the 2011 Kehoe Cup in Arklow's Pearse Park on Sunday, February 6th. Meath had led from the second minute - when Ger O'Neill floated over the opening score - and held out for a deserved victory despite a strong Garden County finish. Nicky Horan - who had scored eleven times during the semi-final win over GMIT - missed the final through injury, but Dunboyne clubman Neil Hackett stepped up to the plate with an assured display, notching eight points in total (including five frees) and creating many others. Captain and centre back Stephen Clynch led by example, clipping over the point that made it 0-13 to 1-6 after 47 minutes, while full back Paul Fagan marshalled dangerman Don Hyland effectively.

The winners - keen to avenge their Christy Ring Cup quarter-final defeat to the same opposition the previous May - registered the first six points (despite playing into the teeth of a strong breeze) and impressive goalkeeper Shane McGann did well to deny Wicklow an eighth-minute goal. The hosts finally got off the mark in the 18th minute but Meath were six clear by the 20th thanks to efforts from Peter Durnin and Padraig Geoghegan. However, Wicklow pounced for a fortuitous goal and were twice within two points only for David Kirby to knock over the last point of the first half: 0-10 to 1-4 at the interval. The winners' first-half scorers were Neil Hackett (4), Ger O'Neill, Joey Keena, Padraig Geoghegan, David Kirby (2) and Peter Durnin. The Garden County had the gap down to the minimum by the 56th minute, 0-14 to 1-10, but stern Meath defending coupled with efficiency in 14

front of the posts ensured that the Royals made an encouraging start under their new regime, winning the subsidiary provincial hurling competition for the seventh time. This was a sweet victory as Wicklow had pipped Meath in the 2010 championship with an injury-time goal. Meath's last Kehoe Cup success had been achieved against Carlow in 2008 and they certainly failed to build on that. After the '11 final win, manager Farrell was under no illusions concerning the enormity of the challenge still facing his charges: “The lads are putting in a big effort in training. You can praise the players for being fit, but let's be straight about it, that's a minimum requirement in today's game. We have a hell of a lot of work to do. We are nowhere near championship pace yet. We are coming into a league campaign and the hard work is really starting now and they have a


lot of it ahead of them. There is noone shirking their responsibilities at all. It's good when you are winning and hopefully it will continue.� Meath - 2011 Kehoe Cup winners: S McGann; W Mahady, P Fagan, D Donoghue; M Horan, S Clynch (0-1), M Lynch; J Boyle, G O'Neill (0-1); J Keena (0-1), N Hackett (0-8), P Geoghegan (0-1); M Cole, D Kirby (0-2), P Durnin (0-2). Subs: D Doran for Cole, N Kirby for Keena. Meath's first game in the competition wasn't quite so close: the Royals hit the ground running when they comfortably beat Roscommon by 4-22 to 1-15 in their season opener at Trim on Sunday January 23rd. This match had originally been scheduled for Pairc Tailteann but was moved to the wellappointed St Loman's Park due to frost in Navan. The visitors led by three points after 20 minutes but the Royals rattled over the last three points before the break - courtesy of Barry Slevin, Derek Muldoon and Joey Kenna - to go in level: 0-10 each. The introduction of Kiltale attacker Peter Durnin would have a telling effect on the match - the sub hit 2-4 as the hosts totally outplayed their Connacht counterparts after the restart. Nicky Horan and David Kirby fired the other three-pointers, while the Rossies bagged a consolation goal right at the death. Rookie Kiltale netminder Shane McCann looked solid between the sticks; Willie Mahady and Paul Fagan defended

stoutly; Kilmessan pair Stephen Clynch and Ger O'Neill ruled the centrefield sector; and Joey Keena, Padraig Geoghegan and Barry Slevin joined Durnin in terrorising the Primrose & Blue rearguard. It was good to see intercounty hurling back in its spiritual home and a respectable crowd braved the extended-winter elements to check out the Meath lads, who didn't disappoint. Roscommon had eased past Louth in the first round, while the Royals had a Bye, but this was all one-way traffic after an even first half of sparring. Once Meath got the rustiness out of their system, they were a class apart, steamrolling the western visitors into submission during the course of a commanding second-half display. Meath won by 16 points in the end and it could have been even more Keena, Durnin, Horan and Kirby all saw second-half goal efforts well saved by an inspired visiting 'keeper. Meath - 2011 Kehoe Cup second round V Roscommon: S McGann; D Donoghue, E Fitzgerald, W Mahady; M Horan, P Fagan, M Lynch; S Clynch (0-1), G O'Neill (0-2); J Keena (0-3), N Horan (1-2), P Geoghegan (0-3); B Slevin (0-4), D Kirby (1-2), D Muldoon (0-1). Subs: P Durnin (2-4) for Muldoon, M Cole for Slevin, C Joyce for M Horan, C Reilly for Mahady. Six days later, a brilliant haul of eleven points from scoring talisman Nicky Horan propelled the Royals into the decider. Back at Trim, on

Saturday January 29th, the Kilmessan clubman was GMIT's tormentor-in-chief as Meath pointed their way to a thrilling 0-19 to 1-15 semi-final victory. Goalkeeper Shane McGann was also instrumental in the success, executing a series of topdraw saves to keep the students (boasting talented players from counties Galway, Mayo, Tipp and Offaly) at bay. His terrific 62ndminute save was a match-defining moment, for sure. Offaly man Colm Egan did finally breach the Meath goal in the 69th minute to set up a nervy finish, but Meath held out for a merited win, with Paul Fagan and Stephen Clynch showing up well in the spine of the defence. The sides were level on eight different occasions during the opening 35 minutes, with a stoppage-time pointed free from Horan ensuring parity at the short whistle: 0-9 apiece. Within 60 seconds of the resumption, the same player popped over another free to give the hosts a lead they would never relinquish. The winners claimed six of the first eight points of the second period, Horan's mighty point from play making it 0-15 to 0-11 with 49 minutes on the clock. Meath led by five points early in the final quarter 0-18 to 0-13 - and held out for a good win, with midfielder Ger O'Neill and Joey Keena bagging a trio of points apiece. Meath showed admirable resolve to

The Meath team for the Allianz HL Division 3A win over Armagh, front l/r: Padraig Geoghegan, Paul Fagan, Mick Foley, David Kirby, Ger O'Neill, David Donoghue, Stephen Quinn. Back: Noel Kirby, Martin Horan, Willie Mahady, Shane McGann, Peter Durnin, Joey Keena, Stephen Clynch, Pauric Keogh, Enda Fitzgerald, Derek Doran

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win this game and - with GMIT defending heroically - took a succession of scores from difficult angles and testing distances. All in all, it was an encouraging display from a crop of players involved in heavy training and the win set them up nicely for a crack at the silverware. One of the many pluses to come from Meath's triumphant Kehoe Cup run was the outstanding form of goalkeeper McGann, whose lightning reflexes and uncanny reactions suggested that he had a real big future in intercounty hurling. Stephen Clynch also looked close to his brilliant best and the Royals benefited greatly from three competitive games in preparation for their NHL and Christy Ring Cup campaigns. Meath - 2011 Kehoe Cup semi-final V GMIT: S McGann; D Donoghue, P Fagan, W Mahady; M Horan, S

Clynch, M Lynch; J Boyle, G O'Neill (0-3); J Keena (0-3), N Horan (0-11), P Geoghegan (0-1); B Slevin, D Muldoon, P Durnin (0-1). Subs: M Cole for Boyle, D Kirby for Muldoon. It was a huge boost to the county as they prepared for the year ahead and they could look forward to the league with an air of optimism. NHL Meath faced Derry, London, Kildare, Wicklow and Armagh in division 3A and the Royals would have fancied their chances of gaining promotion to division two. They started the campaign with a trip to Ruislip where they would face an ever improving London side. Nevertheless, Farrell's charges were expected to account for the exiles in this encounter. However, on this occasion, the Royal County hurlers came up short in windy conditions and finished the game with 14 players after Ger

O'Neill was dismissed early in the second-half. London dictated from the throw-in and with Martin Finn leading the way on the scoreboard the hosts were ahead by seven points at the interval (1-7 to 0-3). Meath were battling to stay in contention during the opening half, but when Finn rifled to the net from a 29th minute penalty it left the Royal County facing a major task for the second-half. After the resumption Meath were reduced to 14 players when O'Neill was sent-off, but they rallied briefly and managed three quick points which reduced the deficit to four. London regained the initiative and were well in control before Meath substitute Mike Cole capitalised on a defensive lapse for a goal which put a more respectable look on the scoreboard. In their next outing, Meath faced Wicklow, the team they had beaten a

Meath manager Cillian Farrell and selector David Gaughan

Paudge Geoghegan shows great control during the Kehoe Cup game against Roscommon at Trim

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few weeks earlier in the Kehoe Cup final. This time the Royals had home advantage and they went in as favourites to pick up their first brace of points, but it was not to be as Wicklow recorded a thoroughly merited 1-11 to 0-11 victory. To put the display in a clearer perspective, Meath took until the fifth minute of first-half injury time to score and that reduced the interval deficit to nine points, 0-1 to 1-7. There was absolutely nothing to admire about Meath's first-half display, but to the credit of the players, they restored some pride after the resumption and won the second-half convincingly by 0-10 to 0-4, but it wasn't enough. Derry were the next opponents and despite the Oak Leaf County finishing with 14 men after they had Cormac McKenna sent off in the closing stages, victory was beyond Meath largely because of their inaccuracy in front of goals which produced 12 wides and they now face the prospect of having to defeat Armagh on Sunday next in a basement battle of pointless teams. Meath collected their first NHL Division 3A points when they won (120 to 1-17) the basement battle against Armagh at Pairc Tailteann. The result was more important than the performance, but it was only when Meath were reduced to 14 men that they started to hurl with a degree of self-belief. That straight red card was issued to Stephen Clynch midway through the second-half after Peter Durnin's goal gave Meath a 1-14 to 1-12 advantage. The Ulster side, finished with a little bit of a flourish although their rhythm was broken by a welltaken Joey Keena point near the end. Meath saved the best until last and ended the NHL Div 3A campaign with a victory over hosts Kildare as they produced their finest performance of the campaign. The spirit and passion that was evident in the second-half of the win over Armagh in the last round continued against Kildare as Meath battled superbly for possession and put their hosts to the sword and ran out winners by 2-19 to 3-13 with the impressive Derek Doran and Mick Cole getting the all-important goals.

Christy Ring Cup Nicky Horan was the main man in attack as Meath's superior scoring power proved decisive at Armagh in the opening match of the Christy Ring Cup. The 2002 All-Star nominee finished with 2-6 to his name for a Meath side who were never reeled in after Peter Durnin opened the scoring within 15 seconds off the off. Durnin finished with six points from play to his name as Meath repeated their recent NHL Division 3A win over Armagh. Their hopes of causing an upset here were severely undermined with the dismissal of centre-half-back Ruairi McGrattan on receipt of his second yellow card, coming up to the interval. Meath led by four points at that instant and after the sides exchanged white flags it was 2-9 to 1-8 at the break. Full-forward Paul McCormack who was operating in a deep role for Armagh from the off now dropped into defence while Meath number three Enda Fitzgerald saw out the game as a sweeper. With the extra man Meath picked off the points in the second-half while Armagh were unable to create the goal chances required to overturn the deficit that got as high as eight points at one stage as the game finished 2-21 to 117 in Meath's favour. This set up a meeting with favourites Kerry in the next round. Meath had to travel to Tralee and were underdogs in this one, but they pushed the Kingdom all the way. Kerry opened brightly and raced 0-7 to 0-3 clear inside the opening twelve minutes, Meath had two points from wing forward Joey Keena and one from free taker Nicky Horan but Kerry after such a bright opening seemed to take their foot of the pedal and Meath got back into the game thanks to contributions from Horan, Keena and Peter Durnin. The game was tied at 0-10 apiece after twenty minutes. As Kerry led 0-13 to 0-10 at the interval. Meath were on top in the third quarter as Kerry appeared to be strangely listless and with Horan unerring from frees, Kerry lost their way up front and other than a Darragh O'Connell free, in the opening twenty four minutes of the 19

second half, no other forward scored , with Kerry's other two points coming from midfielder Darren Dineen. In fact Meath led briefly twice, firstly 016 to 0-15 when Peter Durnin pointed and then in the 55th minute when Horan converted a close in free for a foul on himself. However Kerry upped the tempo for the final fifteen minutes with a succession of was followed by a 65th minute goal, that John Egan caught and he clinically finished to the roof of the Meath net for the crucial score. Meath huffed and puffed late on but they could not blow Kerry's house down, although Mick Cole did score an injury time consolation goal but it was only a consolation as Kerry won on a scoreline of 1-20 to 1-17. The Royals were now in the last chance saloon and had to travel to Newry to face Down. Having to travel from one end of the country to the other in consecutive weeks was far from fair on the Leinster side and it took its toll as Down were never really troubled as they recorded an eleven-point quarter-final win 1-18 to 1-7, at Ballycran. Gareth 'Magic' Johnson was one of the star turns for the winners, clipping over six points. Paul Braniff netted the home side's goal on nine minutes and four Johnson points helped the hosts to an unassailable 1-12 to 0-1 interval advantage. Michael Cole fired to the Down net after the restart and there were signs of a Royal revival as Noel Kirby added five points. Johnson's 55thminute penalty was saved by visiting goalkeeper Shane McGann but Down were not to be denied a place in the business end of the secondtier competition. This year promised so much for the Meath hurlers as they began life under the guidance of former Offaly hurler Cillian Farrell, and their early season form suggested that 2011 might be finally the time that they make more of an impact on the Christy Ring Cup, but that was not to be the case. There is no doubt that Meath possess quality hurlers that should be competing at the business end of the Christy Ring Cup, and their performance against eventual winners Kerry suggests that they are not too far off the mark at all.

Meath Yearbook Royal County 2012  

provides a comprehensive review of the GAA season in Meath, comprising 736 pages in full colour.

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