Dublin beat Royals in Parnell Park thriller

Dublin 2-16 Meath 2-14

Dublin 2-16 Meath 2-14

Dublin got some revenge over Meath with a nail-biting O'Byrne Cup final victory after extra-time at Parnell Park last night.

1-13 to 0-10 up after 67 minutes, the Dubs looked on course to easily make amends for the hammering they suffered against the Royals in last summer's Leinster semi-final.

But, buoyed by a Joe Sheridan penalty, Meath rallied to force extra-time. It was also nip and tuck - 2-14 apiece - at the end of the first period of extra-time.

Dublin's Bryan Cullen punched the ball into the back of the net after a matter of seconds, but Meath's Joe Sheridan cancelled that out with a rasping finish.

Yet the Dubs surged ahead in the second period, with points from Bernard Brogan (free) and Paddy Andrews, and this time Meath could not mount a comeback.

In the bigger scheme of things, this competition hardly ranks highly on either sides' list of priorities. But the bitter rivalry that exists between the counties, allied to the fact that the National League begins next weekend, ensured that strong starting line-ups were fielded.

Footballer of the Year Bernard Brogan made his seasonal debut, as did Meath forward Joe Sheridan. And it was clear from the outset that both sides meant business.

The Royals got off to a flying start. They nabbed two points from play in the opening minute, with star names Brian Farrell and Sheridan the scorers.

But Dubs marksmen Kevin McManamon and Bernard Brogan quickly cancelled those out and, in the 10th minute, they went ahead after Graham Cullen fisted over a Tomás Quinn free.

The lead was short-lived, though, with Shane O'Rourke and Sheridan both scoring fine points from the right-hand side to push Meath into a 0-4 to 0-3 lead.

Then, Dublin hit a purple patch, scoring 1-2 in the space of from two minutes to ease their way into four-point advantage.

The 19th minute goal, which Tomás Quinn slotted coolly into the right corner of the net from close range, was sandwiched in between points from Brogan (free) and defender Declan Lally.

Dublin remained in control at half-time - 1-9 to 0-7 - and were helped considerably by increasingly wayward shooting from Meath, who racked up seven wides in the opening half.

Diarmuid Connolly and McManamon both recorded a brace each for Dublin, while Meath's only other scores came via substitute Graham Reilly, who landed a pair late in the half.

Referee Seán Carroll dished out five yellow cards in the first half, four to Meath - Kevin Reilly, Shane O'Rourke, Brian Farrell and Cormac McGuinness - and one to Dublin's Ger Brennan.

Into the second half, the soon-to-be-replaced McManamon split the posts to bring his total to 0-4 and, after some poor shooting from his team-mates, Graham Reilly bagged his third point for Meath.

Dublin edged into a 1-11 to 0-8 lead after 45 minutes when Bernard Brogan posted a free, but scores were at a premium for the first 20 minutes of this half. The only further one to report was an O'Rourke placed ball.

As the hour mark approached, a Dublin victory appeared a foregone conclusion, but O'Rourke almost gave Meath a lifeline in the 58th minute, only to send his goal attempt just over the crossbar.

Dublin substitute Bryan Cullen was almost as close to hammering the final nail in the opponents' coffin, but he too fired over with the goal at his mercy. And Meath almost made him pay after staging a late fightback.

In the 67th minute, Sheridan converted a penalty, which was awarded after O'Rourke was felled, and substitute Cian Ward tagged on a point to leave the Royals just two behind.

Meath forced extra-time when midfielder Conor Gillespie narrowed the deficit to the minimum and forward Paddy Gilsenan fisted the equaliser at the end of normal time. But Pat Gilroy's men proved strongest when it mattered most.

Scorers - Dublin: K McManamon, B Brogan (0-3f) 0-4 each, T Quinn, B Cullen 1-1 each, D Connolly 0-2, D Lally, G Cullen, B Cahill, P Andrews 0-1 each

Meath: J Sheridan 2-2, S O'Rourke 0-4 (0-1f), G Reilly 0-3, C Ward 0-2 (0-1f), P Gilsenan, B Farrell, C Gillespie 0-1 each

Referee: Sean Carroll (Westmeath)

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