Meath staged the “Great Escape” at Pairc Tailteann in Navan on Sunday, claiming a point against Tyrone, that was enough to see them retain their place in Division Two of the Allianz National Football League for another season.
Seamus McEnaney’s side showed much more of the old Meath fighting spirit, despite chasing the game for much of the afternoon. Tyrone got off the mark after 5 minutes through Cassidy and were two up after 8 minutes, with Martin Penrose getting the first of his scores. Shane O’Rourke narrowed the gap with a well taken point and the Royals were really coming into the game at this stage. However, they could not make possession count and Joe Sheridan missed a great chance, before Brian McGuigan fired the visitors 0-3 to 0-1 ahead.
Martin Penrose increased the Tyrone lead to three, before O’Rourke and Donnelly swapped points to leave it 0-5 to 0-2. Joe Sheridan then got on the scoreboard for the home side. Cian Ward hit two frees in succession to tie up the match, with ten minutes to the half-time break.Shane O’Rourke put Meath in front for the first time soon after(0-6 to 0-5), as the visitors struggled to deal with Meath’s direct approach. Sean Cavanagh hit the equaliser for Tyrone, before late scores from Penrose and Colm Cavanagh gave Mickey Harte’s men a two point lead at the interval(0-8 to 0-6).
Graham Reilly, who was the Meath star on the day, brought them to within a point, just after the restart. However, Joe McMahon hit a fine score from a 45 to increase the Tyrone advantage soon after.Gormely fired them three ahead, before Nigel Crawford and Brian Meade hit back for the home side. Tyrone then scored what looked the crucial goal, with Martin Penrose appearing to get the final touch to Mark Donnelly’s shot.
However, Meath were not going to be denied this afternoon and with Reilly to the fore they soon reduced the lead once more. Penrose hit another score for Tyrone but two points from Farrell gave the home team some hope, with time running out on their league campaign. Cassidy scored another for the visitors but Meath hit back and Joe Sheridan levelled the match with a fine score. Graham Reilly then gave the home fans plenty to cheer about when he put his side in front with time almost up. With the second minute of injury time almost played, Penrose popped up to draw the game and ensure a share of the spoils.
In the end, a draw proved enough for Meath, as both Antrim and Sligo lost their respective games. It was the first time this season that the Royals have shown real promise and supporters can now approach the championship with a little more optimism.
Tyrone panel (v Meath, Sunday, Pairc Tailteann, 2.30pm): P McConnell; M Swift, Joe McMahon, D McCaul; D Harte, C Gormley, R McMenamin; K Hughes, A Cassidy; C Cavanagh, B McGuigan, S Cavanagh; M Penrose, M Donnelly, O Mulligan.
Subs: J Devine, B Dooher, P Jordan, A McCrory, T McGuigan, S McNally, Sean O’Neill, Stephen O’Neill, PJ Quinn.