GAA Football

Second-half surge from Meath helps All-Ireland champions see off Donegal

All-Ireland champions Meath proved too strong for Maxi Curran's Donegal in Letterkenny on Saturday
Frank Craig

Lidl NFL Division One: Meath 1-7 Donegal 0-5

MEATH proved too strong for Donegal in Letterkenny with the current Lidl NFL Division One and All-Ireland champions crossing the line with five points to spare in the end.

In a contest where scores were hard earned, both sides went in at the break all square at 0-3 apiece.

A brace of Suzanne White efforts, including one from play, as well as a Katie Long point appeared like it was going to send Maxi Curran’s charges in with their noses in front at the midpoint.

But with Stacey Grimes posting a late free to go alongside earlier scores from Niamh O’Sullivan and Niamh Gallogly, matters were deadlocked at the changeover.

Quick-fire efforts from Grimes and O’Sullivan following the restart then helped push Meath in front for the first time in the contest as they went 0-5 to 0-3 clear. Ciara McGarvey got Donegal going once more on 37 minutes.

However, just past the three-quarter mark, David Nelson’s girls stole a real march when Mary Kate Lynch’s speculative effort from out the park dropped in and over the head of Aoife McColgan. White responded for Donegal and just that green flag split the teams.

Meath did lose Máire O’Shaughnessy to a sin bin going into the last ten minutes. But they closed out matters for their first win of the campaign with Meadhbh Byrne and substitute Ailbhe Leahy adding late points to seal a five-point victory and condemn Donegal to a second successive loss.

Meath: M McGuirk; Á Sheridan, M Kate Lynch (1-0), K Newe; N Gallogly (0-1), S Ennis, A Cleary; M O’Shaughnessy, A Minogue; M Thynne, M Byrne (0-1), C Smyth; O Callan, S Grimes (0-2 frees), N O’Sullivan (0-2). Subs: S Melia for Callan (42), R Casserly for Smyth (50), A Leahy (0-1) for Thynne (59).

Donegal: A McColgan; K Dowds, E McGinley, E Gallagher; A Boyle Carr, J McFadden, T Hegarty; S Twohig, R Rodgers; S Boyle, K Long (0-1), L Ryan; S White (0-3, 0-2 frees), S McGroddy, C McGarvey (0-1). Subs: N McLaughlin for McFadden (42), A Walsh for McGroddy (46), N Carr for Dowds (57), C Walsh for Long (59), C Gillespie and S Higgins for McGinley and McGarvey (both 60+3).

Referee: Kevin Corcoran (Mayo).