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Royals pay the penalty as Donegal ease their way to commanding ten point win

 

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BATTLE: Hugh McFadden of Donegal in action against Bryan Menton of Meath. Pic: Sportsfile

BATTLE: Hugh McFadden of Donegal in action against Bryan Menton of Meath. Pic: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

BATTLE: Hugh McFadden of Donegal in action against Bryan Menton of Meath. Pic: Sportsfile

Meath were given a harsh lesson in what is required at the highest level as they succumbed to Donegal by 3-8 to 0-7 in Páirc Tailteann yesterday afternoon.

In what was Meath's first home game in the top flight for 14 years, the memory of a bright start proved a distant one as they conceded three goals in an 11-minute spell either side of the break to effectively undermine their chances.

Having already lost to Tyrone last Sunday, next week's clash with Mayo takes on added significance if the Royals are not to make an immediate return to Divsion 2 but they can take some consolation from the manner of their bright start, in which they kept their opponents on the back foot.

Thomas O'Reilly opened the scoring for Meath and they built on that platform as they added scores through corner-back David Toner, Cillian O'Sullivan and Bryan McMahon.

There was a further boost to Meath's momentum when goalkeeper Marcus Brennan denied Michael Murphy from the penalty spot in the 16th minute, getting down low to his right corner.

However, the tide was beginning to turn in Donegal's favour despite Murphy's miss. Their defence began to exert a stranglehold on the home attack and a goal by Odhran McFadden Ferry edged the visitors in front by the 28th minute.

Jamie Brennan, who was fouled for Donegal's initial penalty, was once again impeded two minutes before the break and Murphy showed a cool head in placing the resultant place-kick away from the reaches of Brennan on this occasion.

Trailing by 2-2 to 0-4 at the interval, Meath's hopes of a comeback were extinguished by the 39th minute, as Ryan McHugh worked wonders down the left flank before feeding Michael Langan for the simplest of finishes from close range.

Brennan and Langan added points to keep them well in command and the 2012 All-Ireland winners closed it out with scores from sub Niall O'Donnell and Murphy to secure a deserved ten-point win.

Meanwhile, in Clones, matters proved far tighter as Monaghan eventually saw off Ulster rivals Tyrone by 1-12 to 0-11 .

There was very little to separate the teams in a tight, tense and cagey first-half that saw the hosts enter the break with a narrow 0-7 to 0-6 interval advantage.

However, a goal from the marauding Kyle O'Connell was a body blow from which the visitors never truly recovered, with the absence of Cathal McShane becoming more evident with each attacking performance.

Conor McCarthy was the pick of the forwards on view, as he illuminated the afternoon with four points from play. In contrast, midfielder Frank Burns was the only Tyrone player to manage more than a solitary score from open play.

From the goal onwards, the hosts coasted home to victory, despite Kieran Hughes and Mark Bradley getting straight red cards for their involvement in a late fracas.

"Tyrone, as we have known down through the years, they are tricky opposition to play against.

"You need to be in control of what you are doing and our lads were doing that and were quite happy with that," said Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney.