The fare on offer from both side was well short of what will be needed to win promotion but it was Meath who were happiest at the end of this dour Division 2 tie at Páirc Tailteann yesterday.
Tipperary made the journey seeking to repeat last year’s 2-15 to 1-10 victory but their chances had diminished even before they took to the field. Without key players Robbie Kiely, Bill Maher and Michael Quinlivan, Liam Kearns’ side were always facing an uphill battle.
For long spells, however, they defied the odds and had put themselves in a great position after captain Conor Sweeney pointed from a free to leave it 1-7 to 0-10 on 55 minutes.
The Premier County had the elements in their favour but they lacked a cutting edge in attack and only managed a single point from there to the finish.
With substitutes Cillian O’Sullivan and Graham Reilly making an impact, Meath upped the tempo significantly scoring five of the last six points to clinch a deserved win.
Mickey Newman, who didn’t play any part throughout 2018, top-scored for the Royals with seven points, and his accuracy, especially from frees, was crucial throughout.
Tipperary only managed three points from play in the 70-plus minutes, from Liam Boland, Liam McGrath and Brian Fox, and will need to improve significantly in that department if they are to make an impression through this campaign.
They trailed 1-8 to 0-13 when midfielder Steven O’Brien was dismissed on receipt of a second yellow card for a challenge on Thomas O’Reilly on 65 minutes. That ended their chances and Newman and Cillian O’Sullivan, both from frees, fired over points to seal the win for the Royals.
Tipperary eventually finished with 13 after sub Josh Keane was black-carded near the end.
Afterwards Meath boss Andy McEntee described every game as do-or-die “Every game in this group is tough. I was talking to Liam (Kearns) before the game and he was saying that with the teams that came down and the teams that came up that this is definitely the strongest Division 2 in the last three years, so every two points is a vital two points.
“If anybody had offered us that result this morning we’d have jumped at it. We have to try to go up to Ballybofey and get a result against Donegal next Saturday, which not many teams manage to do in Division 1 or Division 2.Winning makes it a bit easier.”
Meath enjoyed an abundance of possession throughout the opening half and with Newman on target with three points they had built up a 0-5 to 0-1 lead by the 22nd minute.
Newman’s opening point from play left it 0-6 to 0-2 but Tipperary were thrown a lifeline when Conor Sweeney converted a penalty following a trip on Dan O’Meara.
Newman’s fifth point of the half left it 0-7 to 1-2 at the break.
The home side eventually went four clear in the third quarter before Sweeney (three) and Liam McGrath hit points in a nine-minute spell to draw level.
However the visitors challenge ended there and it was the Meath men who regained the initiative from there to the finish.
Scorers for Meath: M Newman (0-7, 6 frees), T O’Reilly (0-2), S McEntee, J McEntee, B Menton, B Brennan, C O’Sullivan (free), G Reilly (0-1 each).
Scorers for Tipperary: C Sweeney (1-3, 1-0 pen, 3 frees), L McGrath (0-3, 2 frees), L Boland, B Fox (0-1 each).
MEATH: A Colgan; S Lavin, C McGill, R Ryan; J McEntee, D Keogan, N Kane; B Menton, S McEntee; E Devine, B Brennan, M Burke; D Campion, M Newman, T O’Reilly. Subs: C O’Sullivan for Burke (h-t), S Tobin for Devine (47), G Reilly for Campion (54), B McMahon for Brennan (57), E Lynch for O’Reilly (73).
TIPPERARY: E Comerford; A Campbell, J Meagher, E Moloney; K Fahey, D Brennan, J Feehan; S O’Brien, L Casey; L Boland, L McGrath, B Fox; D O’Meara, C Sweeney, J Kennedy. Subs: P Austin for O’Meara (45), J Keane for Boland (54), C O’Shaughnessy for Feehan (64), K O’Halloran for Kennedy (69).
Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh)