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28th Aug 2021

Seán Leonard makes up for late mistake as Meath crowned minor champions

Patrick McCarry

MEATH 1-12 TYRONE 1-11

This goes to show you why you should never drop your head, and keep going until the very end. Seán Leonard and Meath did just that.

Many of the Meath Minors that claimed All-Ireland glory at Croke Park today were the ones that needed picking up off the ground, last year.

The Royal County reached the semi-finals in 2020 but fell at the penultimate hurdle. In 2021, with many of that same side dusting themselves off for another crack, they would not be denied.

Tyrone gave them one hell of a fight and were it not for some errant shooting in the final five minutes (and time added on), this final would have gone to extra time.

The first half was a tight affair, with superb goals from Cormac Devlin (Tyrone) and Oisín Ó Murchú (Meath), as well as a handful of well-struck points, getting fans out of their seats.

The second half saw Meath edge ahead, with a couple of nicely struck 45s and a sublime point from play from Hughie Corcoran making it 1-11 to 1-8 at the water-break. Meath would only score one more point in the game, but it would prove crucial.

The final 15 minutes were all Tyrone as the Ulster champions swarmed forward to try level matters. They got to within a point but then proceeded to miss four kicks in a row, all going wide.

Just as it looked like the game was clinched, Shaun Leonard ploughed in with a hasty shoulder and gave away a free. Conor Owens stepped up and levelled it with a free from 20 metres out.

The Royals rallied though and Corcoran was the one that drove into the heart of the Tyrone defence before Leonard steamed up in support and kicked over the winner. Replays show, though, that referee Derek O’Mahoney had missed a double hop in the lead-up to the score.

It was a tough pill to swallow for Tyrone, but Leonard and the Leinster champions took full advantage.

There was a late chance for Owens to equalise, but he curled his last-gasp free wide. It was Meath’s day, and their trophy.