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Derry must make dramatic revival count for something, warns Barton

Derry 1-14 Meath 1-11

By Steven Doherty

Derry manager Damian Barton has said that Saturday's 1-14 to 1-11 comeback victory over Meath will have been for nothing if his team fail to push on to the next round of the qualifiers.

The Oak Leafs produced a dramatic 10-point turnaround at Owenbeg to knock out fancied Meath and progress to the last 16. Barton said: "Players win matches, it's down to them. I thought in the second-half we wanted to win.

"Niall Loughlin put the goal away sublimely, he took two players out of it. We got through in the end. The scores we got at the start of the second-half were telling. It put Meath on the back foot. I'm very proud of the boys.

"But there's no point in winning and not getting a result next time. We haven't got to the last eight yet, and if we get that far we know we'll have achieved."

Meath were full value for their 1-8 to 0-4 lead at the break, with Michael Newman's tap-in goal in the 26th minute the stand out score of a one-sided half.

Mick O'Dowd's men punched holes in Derry's massed defence at regular intervals and had it not been for a high wide count and a couple of unconverted goal chances, they could have been home and hosed.

Shaky at the back, the Oak Leafs were equally well below the accepted level in attack. With Mark Lynch often supplementing the under-fire Derry rearguard, Emmet McGuckin was cast as a lonely figure up top with only his marker and sweeper Donal Keogan for company.

After the break, however, Derry were transformed and six consecutive scores reduced their deficit to 1-8 to 0-10.

Lifeless, rudderless and toothless in the opening half, the Oak Leafs produced their best 35 minutes of the season after the interval.

Derry boss Barton also flagged up the startling contrast between his side's first and second period.

"We didn't go out and express ourselves at all in the first-half. We looked lethargic, slow and tired. We weren't tuned in to the game at all. We had four points in the first-half which is ridiculous for a county team," he said.

"We're our biggest opponent when you look at the contrast of the first and second-half. You would think some of the boys in the first-half hadn't seen a ball before.

"It was very frustrating for our defence coming out with the ball and nobody there to kick to."

The talismanic Lynch led the way, opening the second-half scoring before finishing the game with six points .

Christopher Bradley and Eoghan Brown chipped in with scores as Derry chiselled away at the Meath lead, before two monster points from first Lynch and then James Kielt left it a two-point game.

The Royals, so bright and shiny in the first-half, only briefly flickered into life in the second.

Points from Mickey Burke, Newman and Andrew Tormey edged Meath 1-11 to 0-11 ahead on the hour mark, but after that the Leinster men failed to score.

Barton emptied his bench and two of his substitutes produced key scores with the game in the balance.

First the returning Enda Lynn converted a clinker from the right before Lynn's Greenlough clubmate Niall Loughlin gave Derry the lead for the first time with a 67th-minute goal.

Conor McAtamney's black card left Derry to finish the contest with just 14 men, but it made little difference when Kielt scored his fourth point to wrap up a wonderful comeback win for the home side.

Meath's capitulation, the ninth consecutive Championship game in which they have been outscored in the second-half, brought the curtain down on O'Dowd's tenure.

Scorers: Derry: Mark Lynch 0-6 (0-2f), James Kielt 0-4 (0-3f), Niall Loughlin 1-0, Christopher Bradley 0-1, Eoghan Brown 0-1, Christopher McKaigue 0-1, Enda Lynn 0-1.

Meath: Michael Newman 1-4 (0-3f), Graham Reilly 0-2, Cillian O'Sullivan 0-2f, Padraic Harnan 0-1, Mickey Burke 0-1, Andrew Tormey 0-1f.

Belfast Telegraph


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