2020 Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Final
MEATH 1-07 OFFALY 1-06
By Eoin Rosney at TEG Cusack Park.
Meath were crowned 2020 Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Champions on Wednesday night when they held off a brave Offaly performance to win by a point.
Six points from their captain Eoghan Frayne powered The Royals to victory which now sets up an All-Ireland semi-final against Derry or Monaghan, who will face off on Friday night.
Played under a beautiful sun in Mullingar, the opening quarter was extremely cagey and the only two scores registered in the first 15 minutes were from respective captains Cormac Egan and Eoghan Frayne.
Offaly did have the best of a limited amount of first half chances when Keith O’Neill raced in from the end line and managed to get a shot away but it was well saved by Billy Hogan in the Meath goal, and David Fedigan’s whistle for the first water break sounded with just two scores on the board.
The second quarter was just as cagey as the first, with players struggling with the sweltering heat from the sun belting down on the pitch. Keith O’Neill and Frayne traded frees before another free and 45 from Frayne gave The Royals a two-point free at the break.
Offaly cut the deficit to the minimum just after half time through Jamie Guing, but Meath responded immediately with another Frayne free. Seven minutes into the second half, Meath rattled the net. A long Eoghan Frayne free dropped short and landed in the small rectangle and as it bounced around, Liam Stafford reacted quickest and he buried past David Dunican to give Meath a priceless five-point lead, which they carried into the second water break.
Offaly needed a goal to get themselves back into the game, and 48 minutes in they got what they were craving. Alex Egan’s mark dropped short, and Pauric Robbins reacted quickest to the loose ball and drove it the net to reduce the gap to just two points with 12 minutes left on the clock. Two points from Jamie Guing, one from a free and another excellent left footed curling effort levelled it as the game entered the final minutes.
With the game in the melting pot, it was The Royals who pushed on. Ruairi Keating gave Meath a one-point lead before the impressive Eoghan Frayne got the insurance score in injury time when he was teed up after a breathtaking mark by Conor Gray. Guing did give Offaly some hope when he pointed a free late on to reduce the deficit to the minimum once again, but it was to be Meath’s night, as they held on to claim the silverware.
Scorers for Meath: Eoghan Frayne 0-6 (0-3F, 0-1 ‘45’), Liam Stafford 1-0, Ruairi Kinsella 0-1.
Scorers for Offaly: Jamie Guing 0-4 (0-2F), Pauric Robbins 1-0, Cormac Egan 0-1, Keith O’Neill (0-1F).
MEATH: Billy Hogan; Ben Moran, Liam Kelly, Ben Donnelly; Adam McDonnell, Oisin Kelly, Ciaran Caulfield; Sean Emmanuel, Conor Gray; Mark Coffey, Ruairi Kinsella, Liam Stafford; Alan Bowden, Eoghan Frayne, John McDonagh. Subs: Aaron Murphy for John McDonagh (H/T), Tomas Corbett for Oisin Kelly (51) Oisin Keogh for Liam Stafford (56)
OFFALY: David Dunican; Diarmuid Finneran, Tom Hyland, Ciarán Conroy; David Dempsey, Cathal Ryan, Geordi O’Meara; John Furlong, Harry Plunkett; Marcus Dalton, Alex Egan, Pauric Robbins; Jamie Guing, Keith O’Neill, Cormac Egan. Subs: Patrick Taafe for Ciarán Conroy (Blood sub, 26-30), Patrick Taafe for David Dempsey (40), Sean Keenaghan for Pauric Robbins (49) Eoin Gavin for Keith O’Neill (51) Daire McDaid for Tom Hyland (58), Joe Bergin for Harry Plunkett (60)
Referee: David Fedigan (Louth)