By John Fogarty
Meath 2-16 Laois 0-14
Graham Reilly was at the heart of this O’Byrne Cup victory for Meath in Navan, in which he kicked 1-4 from play, to help secure Meath a semi-final spot next weekend.
The ever-industrious St Colmcilles man was to the fore as Mick O’Dowd’s side overturned a 0-9 to 0-7 half-time deficit.
Donie Kingston was also excellent for Laois and his third point from play, eighth in total, had made it a one-point game with over a minute of normal time remaining.
However, a free won by Paddy Kennelly was goaled by substitute Mickey Newman. Clearly, news of UCD’s big lead over Carlow had filtered to the players and following a Donal Keogan point Reilly crowned his performance with a well-placed goal.
Against the breeze, Meath had started prompter, having had a first minute penalty call for an apparent foul on Mark Battersby turned down. They were 0-2 to no score up after six minutes but the next three came from Laois with Kingston contributing two of them from frees.
Another Laois brace followed Cillian O’Sullivan’s second point for Meath but the home side were on top once more by the 24th minute when Graham Reilly also added his second of the game.
They restored their two-point lead soon after but were again pegged back by wind-assisted Laois, who almost goaled only for Paddy O’Rourke to deny Gary Walsh a goal.
If Harry Rooney was starring in the middle for Meath, Kingston’s strength and use of the ball was Laois’ highest quality and he was prominent in paving their 0-8 to 0-7 lead by the 33rd minute.
A minute later and he had earned a free, which he converted to hold a two-point half-time advantage.
Scorers for Meath: G Reilly (1-4); S Tobin (0-5, 4 frees); M Newman (1-0, free); C O’Sullivan, D Lenihan (0-2 each); H Rooney, A Douglas, D Keogan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Laois: D Kingston (0-8, 5 frees); P Cahillane (0-2, 1 free); E Costello, N Murphy, G Walsh, G Dillon (0-1 each).
MEATH: P O’Rourke; N Judge, D Keogan, B Tormey; A Douglas, M Burke, J O’Reilly; H Rooney, G Reilly; S Tobin, C O’Sullivan, D Smyth; M Battersby, D McDonagh, D Lenihan.
Subs for Meath: C Downey for C O’Sullivan (47); M Newman for M Battersby (52); S McEntee for D Smyth (57); P Geraghty for J O’Reilly (59); P Kennelly for S Tobin (65).
LAOIS: G Brody; D Seale, M Timmons, P Cotter; A Farrell, G Dillon, D Strong; J O’Loughlin, J Farrell; D O’Reilly, D Kingston, N Murphy; P Cahillane, E Costello, G Walsh.
Subs for Laois: T Collins for D Strong (33); K Meaney for J O’Reilly (44); D O’Connor for N Murphy (48); R O’Connor for G Walsh (57); K Lillis for P Cotter (black, 59); M Scully for P Cahillane (65).
Referee: F Kelly (Longford)