Two goals in the last ten minutes gave Laois a late glimmer of hope in this Leinster MFC Round 1 game on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough as Meath claimed a deserved six point win in Navan.
In truth, for most of the game it looked like Laois could only hope to get within six points of Meath, with the hosts leading by nine points at half time after playing into a strong breeze.
They pushed that lead out to as much as 12 points in the second half, but to Laois’ credit they never stopped working and probing, trying to find a way back into the game.
Ironically, it was only after they were reduced to 14 men that they started to cause Meath some real problems. Aaron Dowling was given his marching orders in the 52nd minute for a second yellow card, the nature of which wasn’t clear.
After that, two goals in two minutes from the excellent Sean Moore and Colm Murphy suddenly saw Laois within four points as time ticked away. They couldn’t get any closer than that, however, as Meath closed out the game with a couple of frees from centre-forward Thomas O’Reilly sealed the win for them.
When all was said and done, Laois could have no complaints, as they were outplayed for most of the game, particularly in the first half when they struggled to create chances.
They had a strong wind behind them in the opening half, but it was of no real benefit to them as Meath were dominating possession. A good move from the hosts resulted in Thomas O’Reilly being fouled 16 yards out, and he duly slotted over the free.
O’Reilly added another from play moments later, before midfielder Ronan Jones floated over a 45 to keep Meath pushing ahead. O’Reilly was in on the action again a minute later when he scored a wonderful free from the left wing, as a couple of wides at the other end of the field meant Laois were struggling to get an opening score.
O’Reilly and Eanna O’Kelly Lynch both found the target to push Meath into a six point lead, but Sean Moore finally opened Laois’ account with a free in the 18th minute.
Meath could have pushed themselves even further ahead but for two saves from Joe Walshe to deny the hosts two goals, but they still pressed ahead. O’Reilly and Eamon O Donnachadha sent them eight seven clear, and then Ross Ryan’s shot at goal got a lucky deflection off Trevor Collins, and looped over Joe Walshe and into the net.
Sean Moore again provided the response for Laois with a point from play, but Padraig McGowan quickly hit back for Meath. The final score of the half was a point from Laois midfielder Peter Kealy, and that saw Meath leading 1-9 to 0-3 at half time.
Things didn’t get any easier for Laois on the restart, with Meath quickly putting themselves on the front foot. Ross Ryan punched over a point in the second minute, and O’Donnchadha and Adam Carey added further scores to leave Laois looking dowin the barrel of a whitewash.
To their credit they never threw in the towel, and with Sean Moore in particularly fine form, they kept chipping away at the Meath lead. THe had little success initially, but they sprung to life in the last ten minutes.
A strong run from Colm Murphy saw his goal effort saved, but Moore pounced on the loose ball to tap it the net. Murphy then scored a wonderful goal to leave Laois just four in arrears with five minutes left, but that was as good as it got, with Meath closing out the game from there.