Hurling & Camogie

Jack Regan's accuracy helps Meath overcome Donegal to claim Division 2B title

Jack Regan (left) scored 10 points in Meath's win over Donegal
Jack Regan (left) scored 10 points in Meath's win over Donegal Jack Regan (left) scored 10 points in Meath's win over Donegal

Allianz Hurling League Division 2B final

Meath 0-20 Donegal 0-14

AN outstanding exhibition of free-taking from Meath captain Jack Regan pushed his side to victory in this thrilling Division 2B final in Carrick-On-Shannon. 

A pitch that was pockmarked with divots made hurling difficult for both sides who nevertheless conjured up a fine game for the fans. 

Regan hit a total of 0-10, seven from placed ball, to inspire the favourites to victory over a battling Donegal side, who missed a potential 1-5 when they had a period of dominance in the third quarter. 

But a more experienced and clinical Meath side hung tough after Donegal sub Declan Coulter had given his side the lead for the first time on a score of 0-11 to 0-10 in the 43rd minute after the Royals had led by 0-10 to 0-8 at the break. 

However, Donegal only added three more points to their opponents 0-10 and that was the major difference between  the two. 

Donegal threw on veterans Stephen Gillespie, Declan Coulter and Danny Cullen to try and stem the tide, but Meath showed much greater composure in front of the posts.    

Meath took off like a freight train. A lightning ball was played into their full-forward Eamon O’Donnchadha and he swung over a point after just 15 seconds. 

The Royals meant business and they swept over two more points from Martin Healy and Padraig O’Hanrahan to ease them into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead after five minutes. 

Ruairi Campbell from play and a Liam McKinney point left just a point in it but the inevitable Regan and the injured O’Hanrahan made it 0-5 to 0-3. 

Exchanges were close as players struggled to master the bumps and Ritchie Ryan and McKinney left just a point in it by the end of the first quarter. 

And it was point for point up to the break with McKinnyey and Jack O’Loughlin on target for Donegal with Regan masterful from placed balls. 

Donegal did have two half-chances of a goal in the 28th and 30th minutes but the Meath defence smothered Ritchie Ryan and Tír Chonaill team captain Ronan McDermott’s efforts as Meath led by 0-10 to 0-8 at the break. 

On the resumption Regan had an uncharacteristic miss from a free with Campbell narrowing the gap for Donegal. 

But they had a narrow escape when O’Donnachadha turned Donegal full-back Michael Donaghue, but his screaming shot flashed across the goals and wide. 

Padraig Doherty levelled for Donegal with a fine long-range effort and sub Declan Coulter put them in the lead for the first time with a soaring effort in the 45th minute. 

Donegal were in the ascendancy but hit six wides in the space of nine minutes. 

Regan hit three points on the spin to put his side into a 0-13 to 0-11 lead when Donegal missed yet another big chance. 

Liam McKinney was through on goal but his rasping shot from 12 yards was superbly saved by Meath keeper Charlie Ennis. 

McKinney landed a point to leave the minimum margin between the sides going into the last 10 minutes. 

But Meath found an extra gear and the points flowed from Regan, Sean Geraghty, Stephen Morris and sub Daire Shine who hit two fine points.

Meath C Ennis: G Dwane, D Healy, B McKeon; N McLarnon, J Toher, S Ennis; S Geraghty, M Healy (0-1); S Morris (0-1), J Regan (0-10, 0-7 frees) M Cole; S Quigley, E O’Donnchadha (0-4), P O’Hanrahan (0-2)

Subs P Banwell for M Cole (10 mins), J Kelly for P O’Hanarahn (49) D Shine (0-2) for M Healy (55), S Coloe for S Quigley (70), S Brennan for N McLarnon (73)

Donegal L White; C Bradley (0-1) M Donaghue, P Doherty (0-1); R Hilferty, C McDermott, S McBride; J O’Loughlin (0-1) B McIntyre; S Ward, R McDermott, L McKinney (0-8, 0-5 frees); D O’Maoileidigh, R Ryan (0-1) R Campbell (0-1)

Subs O Marley for S Ward (30 mins), S Gillespie for C Bradley and D Coulter (0-1) for B McIntyre (40 mins), D Cullen for R Campbell (52), C O’Grady for R Hilferty (68)

Referee C McDonald (Antrim)