Mourne men stand tall
Down 2-8 Meath 0-8
This game didn’t quite generate the same level of intensity and drama as their 1991 All Ireland final decider.
But still it was another significant victory as the Mourne men stepped up their push for Division One football next season by going top of Division Two.
Down manager James McCartan was happy with the two points, but there was no danger of him reading too much into the overall display.
“It was important that we won, but there were a lot of mistakes on both sides and a number of missed chances,” he said.
“We also went quite a period of time without scoring, but the big plus for us was that when Meath asked some serious questions we were able to respond very positively.
“Against that there were aspects of our game I wasn’t that happy with so we have plenty to work on.
“We went for spells at the end of the first half and the start of the second without scoring, which was a concern.
“But then we were able to kick in with two or three points and that got the momentum going again.
“Meath were a more formidable side than Kildare and they us a lot to think about throughout the 70 minutes.”
Down’s workrate from start to finish was highly impressive and McCartan agreed it was an area they had been paying special attention to.
“Down through the years we knew we had good players, but sometimes we would have been criticised for not applying ourselves as well as we might so it’s something we’ve been working on and I believe it was there for all to see both against Meath and Kildare.”
This was essentially another resolute team performance, but the attack’s ability to create and take scores at vital stages was the deciding factor.
Paul McComiskey, and the Clarke brothers Martin and John again took the scoring honours, sharing eight points between them for the Mourne men.
The game’s defining moment came when Down’s lead was a mere two points, 9-7, but in the space of two minutes between the 63rd and 65th minute they tagged on points through John Clarke, Conor Maginn and Paul McComiskey, while Meath’s only response was a Cian Ward point.
Down: B McVeigh, D McCartan, B McArdle, D Rafferty, K McKernan, J Colgan, C Garvey, A Rodgers (0-2), K King, C Maginn (0-1), M Clarke (0-2,0-1 free), D Hughes, P McComiskey (0-4,0-3 frees), J Clarke (0-3), B Coulter. Subs: A Brannigan for K McKernan (25), C Laverty for D Hughes (63), S Kearney for C Maginn (67), P Fitzpatrick for K King (67).
Meath: P O’Rourke, N McKeigue, J Macken, E Harrington, M Burke, C McGuinness, C Reilly, N Crawford (0-1), M Ward (0-1), S Kenny, S Bray, P Byrne, D Bray (0-2 frees), J Queeney, C Ward (0-4, 0-2 frees).
Subs: O Lewis for S Kenny (45), A Moyles for N Crawford (66).
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).