FOOTBALL: Dublin 1-7 Meath 1-5 (TG4 Leinster SFC Final)
By Daire Walsh
Hannah Tyrrell scored a second half penalty at Croke Park where Dublin secured a ninth consecutive TG4 Leinster SFC title with a narrow triumph over reigning All-Ireland champions Meath.
Having found themselves three points adrift at the break, a superb scoring blitz at the start of the second half put the Royal County in a strong position to claim their first provincial crown since 2000. However, Dublin held firm and Tyrrell’s calm finish propelled her side towards a 16th Leinster crown.
After a cagey start, Nicole Owens – a late addition to Dublin’s starting line-up – opened the scoring with a ninth-minute point. Meath’s defensive set-up ensured that clear-cut scoring opportunities were initially at a premium for their opponents, but Eamonn Murray’s team also took a while to settle.
On the other hand, Dublin were growing in confidence and moved four points in front courtesy of a brace from St Sylvester’s ace Kate Sullivan and another courtesy of the ever-influential Lyndsey Davey.
It took Meath all of 29 minutes to get up and running but even though Aoibheann Leahy found the target from close-range, Tyrrell’s first point of the day gave Dublin a commanding 0-5 to 0-1 cushion into the interval.
Yet the game was dramatically turned on its head upon the resumption as Meath registered 1-2 without reply to edge themselves into the ascendancy. Straight from the throw-in, 2021 TG4 Footballer of the Year, Vikki Wall played the ball into her Dunboyne clubmate Emma Duggan for a fine point from play.
Duggan had a subsequent effort that rebounded off the post but midfielder Orlagh Lally was on hand to claim the rebound and fire beyond the reach of Ciara Trant.
A routine Stacey Grimes free suddenly presented Meath with a slender advantage in the 36th minute and while Dublin eventually responded with another Tyrrell point, a Wall score at the end of a trademark lung-bursting run kept the Royals ahead inside the final-quarter.
The pendulum swung back in Dublin’s favour on 47 minutes, however, when Tyrrell coolly slotted a penalty past All-Star goalkeeper Monica McGuirk.
Meath’s Maire O’Shaughnessy was sin-binned for a foot block on Owens in the lead-up to this score, but a second free by Grimes left the gap at a bare minimum upon her return. Wall was also yellow carded in a frantic finale, though, and with Niamh Hetherton adding her name to the scoresheet, it was Dublin who prevailed.
Scorers – Dublin: H Tyrrell 1-2 (1-0 pen), K Sullivan 0-2, L Davey, N Owens and N Hetherton 0-1 each.
Meath: O Lally 1-0, S Grimes 0-2 (2f), E Duggan, A Leahy and V Wall 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: C Trant; J Tobin, L Caffrey, M Byrne; A Kane, S Goldrick, O Nolan; J Dunne, K McDaid; K Sullivan, C O’Connor, S Wylde; L Davey, H Tyrrell, N Owens.
Subs: N Hetherton for Wylde (30), S Killeen for Sullivan (38), L Magee for Nolan (43), H Leahy for Kane (56).
MEATH: M McGuirk; S Ennis, MK Lynch, O Duff; N Gallogly, E Troy, A Cleary; M O’Shaughnessy, O Lally; M Thynne, E Duggan, A Leahy; V Wall, S Grimes, N O’Sullivan.
Subs: O Byrne for Leahy (43), K Nesbitt for Gallogly (53), C Smyth for Lally (56).
Referee: J Murphy (Carlow).