Meath 2-11 UCD 0-15
Late scores from Graham Reilly and Peter Curran shot Meath through the quarter-final stage of the 2008 O'Byrne Cup as UCD lost out on a 2-11 to 0-15 scoreline at Pairc Tailteann tonight.
In an entertaining contest, watched by 1,000 spectators including Meath star Graham Geraghty, the Royals advanced to a home tie against Longford next Sunday despite having just six of last year's championship panel in action.
UCD, under the tutelage of Laois senior player Billy Sheehan, began brightly with early points from Laois's John O'Loughlin, Cian O'Sullivan of Dublin and Louth's Shane Lennon to take a 0-3 to 0-1 lead, but the home side came alive with the first goal of the night towards the end of the opening quarter.
UCD had been performing strongly in defence up until this stage but some slack marking up front cost them badly as Meath rifled home the first goal of the contest in the 15th-minute.
Niall Farrell and Jamie Queeney combined well before Farrell took the return pass and one-on-one with UCD goalkeeper Joe Mooney, he had no problem slotting the ball to the net to the keepers' right.
Meath began to dominated in all quarters. Good points from Queeney, Noel Mooney (0-2), Caoimhin King and Eoin Reilly ensured Colm Coyle's men held a 1-6 to 0-3 advantage with 15 minutes left in the half.
King and fellow defenders Cormac McGuinness and David Donegan were performing well for the Royals at this stage but John O'Loughlin ended a 13-minute deadlock for UCD with a pointed free in the 24th-minute.
UCD commanded their fair share of possession in the midfield sector and this began to reflect on the scoreboard with the next three points from Declan Gilhooley, Niall Corkery and Lennon in a five-minute burst.
Indeed the students were unlucky not to bag a goal in the 32nd-minute after an excellent fist-pass movement involving O'Sullivan, Lennon, O'Loughlin and Cathal Fleming before O'Suillivan watched his close range effort skim out for a '45'.
Little separated the sides in injury-time and they traded points before the interval as Meath turned around with a 1-7 to 0-8 buffer.
The Royals upped their game once more on the restart and a magnificent point from McGuinness in the opening minute of the half was a sign of things to come.
Disaster struck for UCD just eight minutes after the restart when Meath half-forward Graham Reilly skimmed in a goalward shot from 30 metres out through a bunch of players, however the last line of defence was marked absent.
Somehow UCD net minder Mooney was away from his line and Reilly's shot bounced to the net with relative ease.
This gave Meath a five-point cushion but the Royals were never out of danger and the students levelled the tie with 11 minutes remaining thanks to good points from O'Loughlin (0-2), Lennon, Gilhooley and substitute Kieran Kelly of Meath who replaced injured Louth forward Lennon in the 56th-minute.
The sides were deadlocked with five minutes remaining as Graham Reilly and O'Loughlin traded points, however two late points from Reilly and Peter Curran in injury-time ended any thoughts of extra-time as Meath progressed into the last-eight.
MEATH: M Mullally; C McGuinness (0-1), D Fay, D Donegan; C King (0-1), C O Mealoid, N McLoughlin; E Reilly (0-1), M Ward; N Mooney (0-2), JB Reilly, G Reilly (1-2, 0-1f); P Curran (0-1, 0-1f), J Queeney (0-3), N Farrell (1-0).
Subs used: A Nestor for Ward (11 mins), J Looby for Fay (half-time), D Morgan for Nestor (46), M Brennan for Farrell (51), S Bray for JB O'Reilly (63).
UCD: J Mooney; D Bailey, D Brennan, C Brady; B Teehan, C Fleming, D McGlade; N Corkery (0-1), J O'Loughlin (0-5, 0-2f); D O'Dowd, C O'Sullivan (0-1), S Brennan; S Lennon (0-4, 0-4f), B Mullen, D Gilhooley (0-3).
Subs used: B Collins for O'Dowd, P Kelly for Brennan (both half-time), B Quill for Teehan (43-46, blood sub), K Kelly (0-1) for Lennon (56), K Doherty for Corkery (63), S Gallagher for Mooney (65).
Referee: Paul Finnegan (Louth)