McEnaney hails Meath heart after impressive opener

Seamus McEnaney got one over his former charges as Meath had a winning start to the Allianz Football League Division 2 at the expense of his native Monaghan at Navan on Saturday night.

While the home side had a comfortable cushion of six points at the finish, it could have been different if the Ulster side had converted even half of their scoring opportunities.

A number of the misses came in a woefully wasteful spell in the second period when Monaghan halved a four-point deficit but should have gone ahead. Let off the hook, Meath hit back for the decisive goal as centre-back Shane McAnarney moved forward to fire to the roof of the net with six minutes left.

McEnaney expressed delight with his team’s performance: “I’m absolutely delighted with the result and the performance,” McEnaney said.

“It always means a lot to me when the group of players I am managing show a lot of pride in wearing the jersey and Meath gave us that tonight.

“They worked tremendously hard. They scored 1-15, which is a very good score for the month of February. We took a lot of stick before today and some of it was deserved. I have a serious respect for Monaghan. I was with them for six years but tonight my loyalties lay firmly in the Meath dressing-room.”

McEnaney was pleased with the way Meath responded to midfielder James Turley’s goal after 21 minutes which gave the visitors a 1-3 to 0-4 advantage. They responded with the next four scores to regain the lead and led by 0-9 to 1-4 at the break.

“That was the spell in which the game was won. We struggled for a while at centre-field in the second half but substitutes Tom Walsh and Conor Gillespie helped to turn the game back in our favour,” he said.

“At the end there were six points in it and it was a comfortable win.”

McEnaney must have been pleased with the sharpness of former All Star forward Stephen Bray, who hit six points, four from play. In contrast four of Monaghan’s points came from defenders.

The visitors lost corner-back Colin Walsh to a hamstring injury after five minutes but Monaghan boss Eamonn McEneaney felt the game was lost in the second half when his side hit 12 wides.

“We created enough chances to win the game. We dominated for about 15 minutes and a lot of guys had chances, all the misses were hard to take,” he said.

Scorers for Meath: S Bray 0-6 (2fs), G Reilly 0-3, S McAnarney 1-0, P Gilsenan, C Ward 0-2 each, B Meade, J Sheridan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Monaghan: J Turley 1-0, Darren Hughes (f), E Duffy, P Finlay (f) 0-2 each, D Morgan, V Corey, N McAdam 0-1 each.

MEATH: D Gallagher; M Burke, B Menton, G O’Brien; C O’Connor, S McAnarney, C McGuinness; B Meade, M Ward; S Kenny, G Reilly, D Tobin; P Gilsenan, S Bray, C Ward.

Subs: J Sheridan for Tobin (ht), C Lenehan for Kenny (47), T Walsh for M Ward (56), C Gillespie for Meade (61).

MONAGHAN: M Keogh; D Morgan, Darren Hughes, C Walsh; D Mone, V Corey, David Hughes; E Lennon, J Turley; N McAdam, E Duffy, M Downey; P Finlay, K Hughes, C McGuinness.

Subs: R McNally for Walsh (5), D Malone for David Hughes, S Gollogly for Downey (both ht), C Hanratty for McGuinness (50), D Clerkin for McAdam (66).

Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).

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