Meath secures first All-Ireland SFC qualifier win in six years

A late cameo from returning attacker Mickey Newman helped to secure Meath's first All-Ireland SFC qualifier win in six years and a place in Monday's Round 3A draw, writes Paul Keane.

Newman hadn't featured in the Championship due to ankle trouble and was only introduced with 61 minutes on the clock as favourites Meath trailed a determined Sligo outfit.

One of his first inspirational acts was to level the game with a converted free from a tricky angle and his second, after 67 minutes, put Meath ahead for the first time since the 27th minute.

Sean Tobin was impressive late on too and the full-forward weighed in with his own brace of injury-time scores in a four-point blitz that ultimately edged Meath to victory.

They survived a major scare at the death though because Sligo, trailing by three points, had an opportunity to level the game and force extra-time when David Kelly shot at goal in the 76th minute.

James Toher was the Meath hero with a goal-line clearance and Kelly's follow up flew over the bar to leave two in it at the finish.

It's the end of the line for Sligo in the Championship while Meath will feel they must improve if they're to overcome Donegal, Mayo or Clare in the next round.

It wasn't a classic encounter by any means and Andy McEntee's side, playing in front of 7,212, trailed by 1-6 to 0-6 at half-time.

The sides were level five times up to 0-6 apiece when Gerard O'Kelly Lynch, one of two late additions to the Sligo team, bundled home a 30th minute goal that separated them at half-time.

Meath, who lost six qualifier games in a row before this evening, a run stretching back to 2011, had the wind advantage in the second-half and picked off points from captain Graham Reilly, Cillian O'Sullivan, Donal Lenihan and Tobin to level it up at 1-7 to 0-10.

They couldn't kick on from there, however, and a great point from Sligo captain Neil Ewing put Niall Carew's Yeats men back ahead in the 58th minute.

Sligo, crucially, didn't score again until Kelly's last gasp point as Meath, who played a noticeably more defensive game than usual, conjured that four-in-a-row of scores to set the seal on a battling victory.

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Scorers for Meath: D. Lenihan (3 frees), S. Tobin (one '45) (0-3 each); G. Reilly, M. Newman (0-2f) (0-2 each); C. O'Sullivan, R. Jones, J. McEntee , S. McEntee (0-1 each).

Scorers for Sligo: G. O'Kelly-Lynch (1-1); A. Marren (0-4, 3 frees, one '45); N Ewing, P. Hughes, N. Murphy, D. Kelly (0-1 each).

MEATH: P. O'Rourke; D. Keogan, C. McGill, M. Burke; P. Harnan, B. Power, S. McEntee; B. Menton, R. Jones; J. McEntee, C. O'Sullivan, G. Reilly; R. O Coileain, S. Tobin, D. Lenihan.

Subs: J. Toher for Jones (15); B. Conlon for Power (h/t); T. O'Reilly for J. McEntee (57); M. Newman for Lenihan (61); D. Tobin for Harnan (65); E. Wallace for O'Sullivan (75).

SLIGO: A. Devaney; R. Donavan, C. Harrison, Keelan Cawley; G. O'Kelly-Lynch, B. Egan, N. Ewing; A. McIntyre, P. O'Connor; J. Kelly, M. Breheny, N. Murphy; S Coen, P. Hughes, A. Marren.

Subs: N. Gaughan for Harrison (47); Kyle Cawley for Kelly (48); K. McDonnell for Breheny (54); D. Kelly for Egan (58, black card); S. Gilmartin for McIntyre (67); C. Davey for O'Connor (72).

Ref: Noel Mooney (Cavan).


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