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NFL Division Two: Derry comeback keeps chance of promotion alive

Derry 1-18 Meath 3-8: Derry kept alive their hopes for promotion with a superb second half comeback against relegation threatened Meath at a windswept Celtic Park.

It was the visitors who got the scoreboard ticking when Graham Reilly kicked over on five minutes.

The Oak Leafers quickly got back on level terms with a point from Gerard O'Kane one minute later. Meath’s Joe Sheridan was fouled 13 yards from the Derry goal before Cian Ward stepped up to restore Meath's single-point advantage. Ward added another free on 11 minutes. Michael Friel and Charlie Kielt then registered two points before Mark Lynch kicked Derry into the lead.

Sheridan’s miscued shot then bobbled past the Derry keeper and into the corner of the net.

A Paddy Bradley free brought his side to within a point.

Meath hit back immediately with another goal from Sheridan.

The prolific Ward kicked over the bar to give his side a well deserved five-point lead.

Conleth Gilligan's 45 brought Derry back into the game before another Paddy Bradley point.

Reilly hit back with a point for the Royals but one from Gilligan and a free from Bradley brought Derry to within two points of their opponents at the interval.

Derry then put Meath to the sword and with Bradley exchanging points with Ward, the home side showed urgency. Sean Leo McGoldrick put the ball over the bar before Bradley equalised with a free on 50 minutes.

Derry had the momentum and O'Kane put his side in front with a magnificent point. Derry then scored a crucial goal on 52 minutes. McGoldrick drove through the heart of the Meath defence to score. Shane O'Rourke pulled a point back for Meath from a free but Donaghy's point provided Derry with significant breathing space shortly afterwards before Bradley added another.

Meath fought back as Ward drilled the ball into the back of the Derry net.

That comeback was short-lived however, as Donaghy received the ball from Bradley and struck his left-footed shot, under pressure, over the bar as Derry held a twopoint lead with two minutes to go.

And two frees in succession by Bradley provided the Oak Leafers with a much-needed victory which keeps them on course for promotion.

DERRY: Conlon; Bateson, McCloy, McBride; G O’Kane (0-1), J O’Kane, Kielt (0-1); McCloskey, Friel (0-1); Mark Lynch, SL McGoldrick (1-1), B McGoldrick; O’Boyle, Bradley (1-6), Gilligan (0-2). Subs: Donaghy (0-2) for J O'Kane (H-T); Doyle for McCloskey (66mins); C McGoldrick for Lynch (72 mins); B McGoldrick for Gilligan (73 mins).

MEATH: Murphy; McGill, Menton, King; O’Brien, McGuinness, O’Sullivan; Meade, Crawford; Reilly (0-2), O’Rourke, Kenny; Farrell, Sheridan (2-0), Ward (0-5). Subs: Walsh for Reilly (66mins); O'Connor for McGuinness (H-T); Ward for Crawford (55 mins).

Referee: M Deegan (Laois)

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