McAnarney goal crucial in Royal victory
MEATH'S wining margin of 1-15 to 1-9 was considerable in their Allianz NFL Division 2 victory over Monaghan on Saturday night but it papered over a whole heap of drama, not least the Farney County completely dominating possession in the third quarter but not being able to translate it into scores.
Monaghan kicked 12 wides in the second half, 16 in total, leaving their players and supporters alike clutching their heads in despair.
Frustrated Monaghan boss Eamonn McEneaney quipping dryly "hopefully we got all of our wides for the season out of the way there on that first night!" However, Meath boss and Monaghan native Seamus McEnaney was jubilant.
"Maybe we stood off them there for 10 minutes or so but we should have been further ahead at half-time and listen, there was six points in this game now, not one or two. It was a convincing win for Meath," he stressed.
It was an all-action opener, with 16 scores in the first half, just one apiece from a free.
Meath's Donnacha Tobin produced a good save from Mark Keogh after 20 minutes, and then Monaghan got a fortunate break at the other end when David Gallagher looked to have a James Turley shot well covered until it took a wicked deflection off centre-back Shane McAnarney to find the net.
Meath reacted with four points without reply to go two clear to lead by one at the break, 0-10 to 1-6, and extended it to three soon after the break, when Joe Sheridan made his seasonal debut.
But when they lost Seamus Kenny to injury and Monaghan switched bustling full-forward Kieran Hughes to the '45', the balance shifted dramatically.
Monaghan owned the ball for a quarter but squandered 10 shots in a row and when full-back Darren Hughes finally broke the sequence in the 50th minute, it drew an ironic roar.
Banty finally stopped the rot by whipping off both midfielders and Cian Ward and Paul Finlay traded excellent points to still leave just two points between them until the unlucky McAnarney, who'd scored that own goal earlier, applied the killer blow after 65 minutes.
Reilly, Sheridan, Stephen Bray and Cian Ward were all involved in the counter-attacking move that saw centre-back McAnarney find the net for the vital score of the game.