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2023 Allianz Football League Division 2 – Meath 4-8 Clare 0-16
Meath defeated Clare by 4-8 to 0-16 in Round 2 of the Allianz Football League Division 2 on Sunday February 5th at Páirc Tailteann.
In Division Two @MeathGAA defeated Clare to remain unbeaten so far in their #AllianzLeagues campaign. Watch it with GAANOW. pic.twitter.com/u5PxfmD8VB
— The GAA (@officialgaa) February 7, 2023
Meath hit four goals as they defeat Clare to go two from two https://t.co/gVU6R8RdDp
— Irish Examiner Sport (@ExaminerSport) February 5, 2023
Meath hit four goals as they defeat Clare to go two from two
Allianz Football League, Division 2, Round 2
Meath 4-8 Clare 0-16
Report by Paul Keane for the Irish Examiner newspaper
A slightly schizophrenic afternoon for Meath in Navan but ultimately another win to leave the Royals still unbeaten in 2023 under new manager Colm O’Rourke and top of the Division 2 table.
For the second weekend running, Meath used goals as their battering ram to victory with Donal Lenihan helping himself to two of them and both Jordan Morris and Jason Scully accounting for majors too.
Yet while the hosts twice opened up leads of nine points, midway through the first-half and again in the closing stages, they could never quite shake off a determined Clare who kicked 16 points on the day.
Meath also conceded a high tally against Cork, 0-19, though with three goals on that occasion and four this time, they’ve been raising enough green flags to get by.
They will head to Derry next in Round 3 knowing that the concession rate will need to drop considerably while Clare, despite the loss, will leave Páirc Tailteann in relatively good spirits and will be hopeful of getting back to winning ways against Kildare in Ennis on February 19.
O’Rourke changed almost a third of his Meath team from the Páirc Uí Chaoimh win with starts for Adam O’Neill, Harry O’Higgins and Jack O’Connor in defence, along with Lenihan in attack.
There were three changes for Clare too from the side that stole a dramatic one-point win over Louth last weekend.
Those were all enforced switches with Darren O’Neill (thumb), captain Eoin Cleary (sickness) and Keelan Sexton (hamstring) replaced by Darragh Bohannon, Ciaran Downes and Gavin Cooney.
Wolfe Tones man O’Neill fared strongly on his full National League debut for Meath while Dunboyne’s Lenihan, who featured in all three of their O’Byrne Cup games, drilled 12th and 18th minute goals.
Meath opted for long, direct deliveries into their full-forward line whenever the opportunity was on and Morris hinted at the success it would bring for them when he pointed in the eighth minute following a terrific fetch and advanced mark.
Lenihan’s first goal four minutes later was all about what the Royals could do closer to the ground with Morris cutting the ball back from the right endline and Lenihan finishing with a first-time, soccer style shot.
But it was back to the long ball for the second goal with Ronan Jones arrowing in a diagonal delivery from the left and Lenihan rising highest to redirect it to the net.
From the resulting kick-out, Morris won possession and punished goalkeeper David Sexton by blasting low to the bottom right corner.
Suddenly, Meath were 3-2 to 0-2 ahead and apparently on the verge of routing the visitors.
They only scored one more point in the half though with the 13th minute injury enforced departure of Shane Walsh, who struck 1-7 against Cork, along with a significant improvement from Clare, allowing the Banner to come strongly into the contest.
Five points in a row from Clare, with three of those from UL’s Emmett McMahon, hauled them right back and while Meath still led by 3-3 to 0-7 at half-time, the five-point margin flattered them.
Clare went with a two-man inside forward line of Cooney and Podge Collins initially and Jamie Malone, wearing number 10, played mainly as an extra defender.
Kingscourt clubman Morris had a terrific chance for a second goal shortly after the restart but Sexton saved and when substitute Aaron Griffin then pointed for Clare, the margin was down to four.
The four-point gap remained between them after 45 minutes but another surge of Meath scoring, climaxing with Scully’s goal when he slid the ball low to the net, reopened a nine-point margin and put the result almost beyond doubt.
In front of a vocal home support, Meath would have preferred to finish with a flourish but five Clare points in a row from Podge Collins, McMahon, Bohannon and sub Mark McInerney left O’Rourke with some thinking to do ahead of the Derry date.
Scorers for Meath: D Lenihan (2-2, 0-2 frees); J Morris (1-2, 1 mark, 1 free); J Scully (1-1); J O’Connor, D McGowan, D Campion (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clare: E McMahon (0-5, 3 frees); G Cooney (0-3, 2 frees); M McInerney (0-2, 2 frees); J Malone, D Coughlan, A Griffin, P Lillis, P Collins, D Bohannon (0-1).
Meath: H Hogan; A O’Neill, M Flood, H O’Higgins; J O’Connor, D Keogan, C Hickey; R Jones, D McGowan; C O’Sullivan, J Scully, D Campion; J Morris, D Lenihan, S Walsh.
Subs: D Moriarty for Walsh (13); S Crosby for O’Sullivan (38-40, blood); B Conlon for McGowan (49); Crosby for Campion (53); S McEntee for Scully (68).
Clare: D Sexton; C Brennan, R Lanigan, M Doherty; J Malone; A Sweeney, P Lillis, C O’Dea; C O’Connor, D Bohannon; D Coughlan, E McMahon, C Downes; P Collins, G Cooney.
Subs: A Griffin for Downes (h/t); D Nagle for Lanigan (38-47, blood); I Ugweru for Coughlan (49); D Walsh for Sweeney (54); M McInerney for Cooney (61); D Keating for O’Connor (63).
Ref: N Cullen (Fermanagh).
Clare’s starting fifteen and bench for this Sunday’s Allianz Football League Round 2 tie in Navan . Throw in at Pairc Tailteann is at 2:00pm . pic.twitter.com/vesl4H4XNr
— Clare Gaa (@GaaClare) February 3, 2023