Determined Meath fall short as Mayo secure vital win

Leading by a point with 54 minutes played, underdogs Meath had hauled themselves into a winning position against a county they hadn't lost to since 1951.

Determined Meath fall short as Mayo secure vital win

[team1]Mayo[/team1][score1]2-17[/score1][team2]Meath[/team2][score2]0-14[/score2][/score]

Still no upset in the Super 8s.

Mind you, Mayo almost came a cropper at Croke Park against a determined Meath side that ultimately failed to muster the required scoring to take down a superpower.

Leading by a point with 54 minutes played, underdogs Meath had hauled themselves into a winning position against a county they hadn't lost to since 1951.

But just as the Meath fans began to dream of a repeat of their 2009 quarter-final win, Mayo brought their big game experience to bear on the game and closed it out in quite ruthless fashion.

James Horan's All-Ireland hopefuls outscored Meath by 2-6 to 0-2 in the closing period with goals from Kevin McLoughlin and Cillian O'Connor to win by a flattering nine-point margin.

Despite losing to Kerry in Phase 1, it leaves Mayo with a fighting chance of reaching the All-Ireland semi-finals ahead of their decisive August 3 clash with Donegal in Castlebar.

Meath desperately wanted a win to crown a breakthrough season under Andy McEntee.

They gained promotion to Division 1 of the Allianz League in spring and followed that up by reaching a first Leinster final in five years.

They also wanted to ensure that there's still something to play for when Kerry visit Navan in the final round of the Super 8s on Saturday week.

They gave themselves a fighting chance of grabbing a result with a battling first-half display.

The sides were level four times throughout the period and finished up locked on 0-7 apiece at the interval.

Chris Barrett, McLoughlin and Fergal Boland were all late additions to the Mayo lineup and both McLoughlin and Boland got on the score-sheet in the first-half.

Ethan Devine was influential in the Meath attack and forced a turnover that led to a Bryan Menton point before he split the posts himself.

Cillian O'Sullivan and Seamus Lavin closed out the first-half with Meath points to tie it up at half-time though the loss of Mickey Newman just before the interval with a leg injury robbed them of their key forward.

Shane Walsh, who has just completed his Leaving Cert, came on for Newman and took over the frees, slotting five of them.

They kept Meath right in the game and the sides were level three more times before the Leinster finalists edged a point ahead at 0-12 to 0-11.

But they ultimately lacked the firepower to finish the job and wasteful finishing from Walsh and Cillian O'Sullivan cost them as did their goalkeeping difficulties.

Mayo dominated Andrew Colgan's kick-outs in the last quarter and McLoughlin's 62nd minute goal came off a turnover on a Meath kick-out.

O'Connor sealed the deal with his 76th minute goal after his initial penalty attempt was blocked, the ball dropping favourably for him to finish it to the net.

Mayo scorers: C O'Connor 1-5 (0-4f), K McLoughlin 1-1, F McDonagh, F Boland & J Doherty 0-2 each, A Moran, D Coen, J Carr, C Boyle & L Keegan 0-1 each.

Meath scorers: S Walsh 0-5 (0-5f), M Newman (0-1f) & S Lavin 0-2 each, J Conlon, B Menton, J McEntee, E Devine & C O'Sullivan 0-1 each.

Mayo: D Clarke; C Barrett, B Harrison, S Coen; D Vaughan, C Boyle, L Keegan; A O'Shea, S O'Shea; F McDonagh, K McLoughlin, J Doherty; C O'Connor, D Coen, F Boland.

Subs: A Moran for Coen (h/t), J Carr for Boland (48), E O'Donoghue for S Coen (56), J McCormack for S O'Shea (63), M Plunkett for Keegan (74), C Treacy for McLoughlin (75).

Meath: A Colgan; S Lavin, S Gallagher, C McGill; D Keogan, P Harnan, G McCoy; B Menton, S McEntee; J McEntee, B McMahon, E Devine; C O'Sullivan, M Newman, J Conlon.

Subs: S Walsh for Newman (35+2), B Dardis for McCoy (50), S Tobin for Devine (53), T McGovern for Lavin (65), T O'Reilly for McMahon (66), M Brennan for Colgan (75, black card).

Referee: C Branagan (Down).

Quirke’s football podcast: Shane Lowry in Croke Park. Team selection farces. Do Tyrone need to be so defensive?

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