Leinster SFC Quarter-Final
Andrew Tormey scored 1-9 for Meath as they worked hard to secure a Leinster SFC semi-final against Westmeath on June 28th at Croke Park.
Playing in their first home game in the competition in 20 years, Mick O'Dowd's charges were tested early on, but Tormey's sixth minute penalty goal set them up well, and the hosts led 1-11 to 1-6 at half-time.
Meath moved 2-12 to 1-7 ahead after 39 minutes, with Graham Reilly (1-4) netting their second goal.
However, Wicklow were keen with substitute Conor McGraynor despatching two penalties, with his second cutting the gap to three points with 14 and a half minutes remaining.
Meath dug deep with Tormey keeping them in front late on, as Wicklow finished with 13 men after Garden County captain Dean Healy and their other goal-scorer Paul Cronin saw red in the closing nine minutes.
Johnny Magee’s changes gave Meath a strong test and began this game in eager fashion.
Meath keeper Paddy O’Rourke was forced to pull off a save after just a minute, after John McGrath sent a goal effort towards the home sides posts.
The sides were tied at 0-1 each after three minutes, with Andrew Tormey and Stephen Kelly trading scores.
Defences were on top over the next four minutes, before Meath were awarded a seventh minute penalty, after Stephen Bray was brought down by Wicklow full-back Paul Cunningham.
Tormey sent the resulting spot-kick past Wicklow goalkeeper Robert Lambert, starting a strong phase from the hosts, which saw Tormey and Joe Wallace add points, as they moved 1-3 to 0-1 ahead after 10 minutes.
Wicklow worked hard, and following a well struck Daniel Woods point, Paul Cronin cut in for their opening goal in the 12th minute.
The Ballinteer St. John’s clubman’s green flag cut the gap to the minimum, and although Tormey and Thomas Kelly traded points, Meath kicked on moving five points clear by the 28th minute.
Niall Gaffney was shown to the line on a black card, and although it was likely that the loss of the Bray Emmets clubman would be hard for the Garden County to take, Wicklow had a trump-card up their sleeves, introducing McGraynor.
The Avondale man proved to be a thorn in Meath’s side over the remainder of the hour, with the sides equally trading six points before the interval, with McGraynor, Thomas Kelly and McGrath on target for the visitors.
Meath led by 1-11 to 1-6 at the interval, with Tormey bringing his tally to 1-5 on the stroke of the half-time whistle.
McGrath fired the first score of the second half for Wicklow, but Meath bounced back with Harry Rooney and Brian McMahon combining, before Reilly blasted to the net
McGraynor slotted home his first penalty goal, after he himself was fouled to ensure a five-point deficit in the 44th minute.
Meath kept on top, with a Reilly point handing them a 2-16 to 2-10 lead entering the final quarter.
Wicklow weren’t lying down, and although McGraynor mis-hit his sides second penalty, he was allowed to retake it, and this time made no mistake, to cut the gap to three points after 56 minutes.
Kelly’s third point arrived a minute later to cut the gap to two, but Meath’s experience told in the closing stages.
A brace of Tormey pointed frees, and a 45 from the Donaghmore-Ashbourne clubman extended the Royals lead to five points after 64 minutes.
Paul Cronin saw red at this stage, while Dean Healy was dismissed with four minutes of normal time remaining.
A Paul McLoughlin point ensured Wicklow were just four points in arrears with 90 seconds left, but time ran out on the Garden County, as Meath secured a last-four date at Croke Park.
Scores and teams
MEATH: P O’Rourke; J McEntee, B Power, D Tobin; N Judge, D Keogan, D Dalton; H Rooney, A Flanagan; A Tormey (1-9, 7f, 1-0pen, 1 45), P Harnan, G Reilly (1-4); J Wallace (0-1), S Bray (0-01), B McMahon (0-3). Subs: M Burke for Judge (HT); B Menton for Flanagan (47); E Wallace for J Wallace (50); C McHugh for O’Rourke (BC 54); K Reilly for Dalton (57); S Tobin for Power (65).
WICKLOW: R Lambert; C Hyland, P Cunningham, A Murphy; D Healy, P McLoughlin (0-1), M Kenny; A McLoughlin, D Woods (0-1); D Hayden (0-2), S Kelly (0-1), N Gaffney; P Cronin (1-0), T Kelly (0-3), J McGrath (0-3, 3f). Subs: C McGraynor (2-1, 2-0pen) for Gaffney (BC 28); R O’Brien for Cunningham (41); J Stafford for Woods (43); P Dalton for A McLoughlin (48); B McCrea for McGrath (66); P Higgins for Kenny (69).
REFEREE: Barry Cassidy (Derry)