Down denied quarter-final spot as Meath ride their luck at Parnell Park

Odhran Murdock scored Down's goal agianst Meath
Andy Watters

Tailteann Cup, Group 2, Round 3: Down 1-9 Meath 1-11

DOWN will have to take the play-off route to make the quarter-finals after they lost a game they should have won against Meath yesterday.

The Mournemen racked up 17 wides at Parnell Park which was far, far more than they could afford against an energetic Meath side that benefitted from some debatable calls by referee Fergal Kelly.

The Royals were awarded a penalty in the first half although Odhran Murdock appeared to have made a good tackle and later in the half Kelly called the play back for a free after Eugene Branagan had hammered the ball into the Meath net.

With the sides’ level in injury-time in the second half, Longford official Kelly allowed play to continue after Micheal Rooney appeared to have been shoved in the back by Cathal Hickey. Niall Kane saved Hickey’s shot but Daithi McGowan scored the 45 to edge the Munster men into a lead which they kept to the final whistle.

There are usually debatable calls in tight games and afterwards Down manager Conor Laverty said his side only had themselves to blame. Meath, whose wide-count was also into double figures, missed a gilt-edged goal chance in the second half. They fell two points behind after Odhran Murdock rifled a shot into their net but their determined finish means they go through to a home quarter-final in a fortnight’s time, Down are in the preliminary round next weekend.

Down: N Kane (0-1 45); A Doherty, P Laverty, P McCarthy; D Magill, D Guinness (0-1), C Doherty; P Branagan, O Murdock (1-0); S Johnston, D McAleenan, L Kerr (0-2, 0-1 free); C Francis, P Havern (0-5 frees), E Branagan

Subs: M Rooney for D Magill (46), R McEvoy for E Branagan (55), R Carr for Francis (59), E Brown for McAleenan (77)

Blood sub: S Annett for S Johnston (60-71)

Yellow cards: S Johnston (15), P Branagan (39)

Meath: S Brennan; A O’Neill, R Ryan, H O’Higgins; D Keogan, P Harnan, S Coffey; R Jones, C Gray; C Caulfield, J McEntee (0-2), J O’Connor (0-1); J Morris (1-3, 1-0 pen), M Costello (0-1 mark), A Lynch

Subs: J Flynn (0-1) for Caulfield (33), D Lenihan (0-1 free) for Jones (55), D McGowan (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 45) for Gray (56), C O’Sullivan for O’Connor (59)

Referee: F Kelly (Longford)