Meath 0-11 Louth 0-10
O’Byrne Cup semi-final
Louth boss Colin Kelly has given new ‘B’ Championship proposals floated by Central Council on Saturday a tentative thumbs-up.
If passed by Congress next month, the new system would prevent Division 4 teams from competing in the All-Ireland qualifiers from 2017, but Kelly is more concerned about getting his team out of the bottom tier and avoiding the ‘B’ grade altogether.
“No-one wants to be operating where we are but I would be in favour of it as long as all of a sudden it doesn’t become elitist and teams like us aren’t left in a group where getting to where you want to go is unattainable,” Kelly said.
“But whatever decisions they make, they make.”
Of course, Louth wouldn’t be affected by the proposed changes if they win promotion this spring and the signs are positive for Kelly’s troops in that regard.
They let neighbours Meath build up a five-point lead in treacherous conditions in Drogheda yesterday, but came storming back in the second-half and passed up several chances to at least force extra-time.
The Royals were well on top in the opening half and Mick O’Dowd will feel his team should have put the issue to bed by the interval.
By that stage they led by 0-7 to 0-3, but kicked several poor wides and passed up a glorious goal chance for Dalton McDonagh.
Louth hung in and were further boosted by a straight red card for Meath’s Barry Tormey, but after reducing the deficit to the minimum, their earlier accuracy deserted them.
Meath weathered the storm and a Mickey Newman free insulated them from another Louth rally, which only yielded a James Califf score in injury-time.
For O’Dowd the intensity of the occasion was as important as the result and he’s relishing another tough test in the final against Longford.
“Louth had chances to go on and win it and they didn’t take them, but I’m proud of the lads for digging out a result being a man down,” he said.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t kill the game at the start of the second-half, but we’re in the final and that’s the main thing.”
Scorers for Meath:
M Newman (0-5, 3 frees, 1 ‘45’); S Tobin (0-2, 1 free); C Finn, G Reilly, C Downey, C O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Louth:
J McEneaney (0-3, 2 frees); D Byrne, T Durnin (0-2 each); A Reid, D Maguire, J Califf (0-1 each).
P O’Rourke; B Tormey, D Keoghan, D Smyth; A Douglas, M Burke, C Finn; H Rooney, C Downey; G Reilly, M Newman, C O’Sullivan; S Tobin, D McDonagh, D Lenihan.
S McNamee for Lenihan (41), P Harnan for Tobin (58), J O’Reilly for Downey (60), Ruairi O Coilleann (68) for McDonagh, P Geraghty for O’Sullivan (70+), P Kinnelly for Newman (70+).
C Lynch; P Rath, D Quigley, K Toner; D Maguire, D McMahon, K McLaughlin; T Durnin, J Stewart; D Byrne, C McKeever, Cathal Bellew; A Reid, J McEneaney, B Flanagan.
K Murphy for Toner (22), G McSorley for Bellew (29), E Lafferty for McLaughlin (black card, 34), R Holcroft for Flanagan (62), A Williams for Murphy (65), J Califf for McKeever (67).
B Tiernan (Dublin).
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