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19th Feb 2023

Mayo get the goals to take down the champs in Meath


By Daire Walsh

Mayo 2-6 Meath 0-9

Maria Cannon’s goal was crucial as Mayo produced a massive second half fightback at Pairc Tailteann to claim their first win of this year’s Lidl National Football League Division 1 at the expense of reigning champions Meath.

Four points adrift at the break, Michael Moyles’ side turned things around in the second period with an unanswered burst of 2-2 helping them to overcome the challenge of their Leinster counterparts.

Looking to get off the mark following three narrow defeats in the previous rounds, Mayo edged into the ascendancy early on courtesy of unanswered frees from Shauna Howley and Cannon.

Although Meath initially took some time to settle into their stride, they eventually did so in fine style. Either side of a score by centre-forward Meadhbh Byrne, the ever-dependable Niamh O’Sullivan kicked excellent points to edge the Royals into a slender lead.

There was some controversy however, when O’Sullivan was penalised for charging, when it seemed more like she was the one charged down. See the video for yourself here.

The rule states that there shall be no ‘deliberate bodily contact,’ but surely O’Sullivan wasn’t the aggressor here.

Starting with eight of the team that secured a second consecutive TG4 All-Ireland senior crown against Kerry at Croke Park last July, Meath kicked into overdrive at the beginning of the second-quarter with another three points on the bounce from Aoife Minogue, Ciara Smyth and O’Sullivan.

Mayo finally interrupted this scoring sequence with a 25th minute point by Sinead Walsh, the Connacht side’s first effort from play, but Byrne’s second of the opening period ensured Meath brought a 0-7 to 0-3 advantage into the interval.

In a bid to force their way back into contention, Mayo introduced Kathryn Sullivan and 2019 TG4 All Star winner, Rachel Kearns, off the bench. The visitors were certainly reinvigorated on the resumption and were back on level terms by the 39th minute.

Supplementing a pointed free from Howley, Cannon fired beyond the reach of Monica McGuirk for the maiden goal of the game. Mayo were then given even further reason to rejoice on 42 minutes when a Kearns ’45’ found its way into the Meath net.

This scoring blitz came as a major shock to the system for Meath and with Howley adding her third of the afternoon, the hosts found themselves four points adrift inside the final-quarter.

Davy Nelson’s side also lost Maire O’Shaughnessy to the sin-bin in this period and while a Stacey Grimes free helped them to settle, Mayo quickly responded with a Kearns point.

Grimes slotted over another effort to leave three points between the teams in the closing moments, but Mayo had just enough in reserve to properly kick-start their league campaign.

Scorers – Mayo: M Cannon 1-1 (0-1f), R Kearns 1-1 (1-0 ’45’), S Howley 0-3 (3f), S Walsh 0-1. Meath: N O’Sullivan 0-3, S Grimes 0-2 (2f), M Byrne 0-2, A Minogue 0-1, C Smyth 0-1.

Mayo: L Brennan; E Ronayne, C McManamon, D Caldwell; L Wallace, C Needham, H Reape; F McHale, S Cafferky; S Howley, T Needham, M Cannon; L Cafferky, M Reilly, S Walsh.

Subs: K Sullivan for Wallace (ht), R Kearns for S Cafferky (36), S Mulvihill for Cannon (43), E Brennan for Reape (49), T O’Connor for Reilly (51).

Meath: M McGuirk; A Sheridan, MK Lynch, K Newe; N Gallogly, S Melia, A Cleary; M O’Shaughnessy, A Minogue; M Thynne, M Byrne, C Smyth; A Leahy, S Grimes, N O’Sullivan.

Subs: O Gore for Cleary (30-31, blood), Gore for Melia (43), A Sherlock for Leahy (45), R Casserly for Byrne (49), O Mallon for Smyth (51).

Ref – Eddie Cuthbert (Down).

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