HomeFootballDefenders star as Meath reach first Leinster U20 final in 10 years

Defenders star as Meath reach first Leinster U20 final in 10 years


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Kildare started with seven of the team that saw action in last year’s All-Ireland final win over Sligo, while Meath had nine of the team that won the All-Ireland minor title three years ago.

And while the contribution from forwards in the deciding factor in the majority of matches, most of the plaudits for this win go to the Meath defence who not only performed excellently as a unit but also contributed both goals.

Both arrived at crucial stages with the energetic Eamon Armstrong finishing to the net in first half added-time to give Meath a 1-5 to 0-6 interval lead. The Duleek-Bellewstown man was earlier involved along with Hughie Corcoran and full-back Liam Kelly in what was a sweeping move from defence to attack.

Armstrong was in the action again less than three minutes into the second half providing the pass for Seán O’Hare whose looping finish deceived Kildare goalkeeper Eoin Sheehan.

That left Meath 2-5 to 0-6 clear and while Kildare did reduce the deficit to three points by the 42nd minute, they could never get the upperhand on a rock-solid Meath rearguard that defended in packs throughout.

Kildare were ahead through Fionn Cooke within 20 seconds of the start but they squandered chances to go further ahead before Jamie Murphy had Meath off the mark. Murphy accounted for two further points and Hughie Corcoran was also on target as Meath built up a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.

The hosts came roaring back into contention and boosted by two excellent points from Killian Browne they were level on 20 minutes and regained the lead following a Ryan Sinkey point. Corcoran and Colm Dalton exchanged scores before Armstrong’s goal separated the sides at the break.

O’Hare’s goal left Meath in a commanding position but a brace of Kildare points had the Lilywhites still very much in contention. Corcoran and Murphy added to the Meath tally, though Kildare continued to pose a threat and both Kelly and Armstrong made crucial interventions to keep their goal intact.

Points by Conor Duke and wing-back Killian Smyth stretched the lead out to six by the 56th minute and that ended Kildare’s faint hopes.

KILDARE: Eoin Sheehan; Rob Fitzgerald, Eoin Lawlor, Ethan Mountaine; Oisín Grufferty, James Harris, Colm Dalton 0-2; Dara Crowley, Fionn Cooke 0-1; Killian Browne 0-2, Niall Dolan, Mark Gibbons 0-1; Ryan Sinkey 0-2 (1f), Ross Harris, Sam Savage. Subs: Ben Ryan for Sinkey (48), Niall Cullen 0-1 for Savage (48), Joey Cunningham 0-1 for Browne (50), Niall Cramer for Mountaine (54), Ben Loakman for Gibbons (58).

MEATH: Oisín McDermott (Ballinlough); Conor Ennis (Ballinabrackey), Liam Kelly (Ratoath), Seán O’Hare (Rathkenny) 1-0; Eamon Armstrong (Duleek-Bellewstown) 1-0, John O’Regan (Skryne), Killian Smyth (Castletown) 0-1; Jack Kinlough (Dunboyne), Charlie O’Connor (Dunshaughlin); Shaun Leonard (St Colmcille’s), Rian Stafford (Kilmainhamwood), Conor Duke (Dunshaughlin) 0-1; Hughie Corcoran (Drumbaragh) 0-3 (3f), Jamie Murphy (St Patrick’s) 0-4 (1f), Rian McConnell (Castletown). Subs: Seán Emmanuel (St Patrick’s) for Leonard (48), Tadhg Martyn (Slane) for Stafford (50), John Harkin (Dunboyne) for Corcoran (59), Seimi Byrne (Seneschalstown) for Ennis (60).

REFEREE: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)

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