Updated: February 20th, 2023
Derry maintained their 100% Allianz Football League record in 2023 with an 11-point victory over Meath at a wet Owenbeg on Saturday.
by Steven Doherty
Derry 2-15 Meath 1-7
Derry produced their best football of the season so far to put Meath to the sword at Owenbeg. Rory Gallagher’s charges led from gun to tape to continue their winning streak at the top of Division Two.
With eight different scorers registering for Derry, first half goals from Niall Toner and Ethan Doherty proved the key scores as the home team brushed aside a disappointing Royals side.
A stunning goal on the cusp of the interval from Niall Toner handed Derry a comfortable half-time advantage. In truth the home side were well worth their lead having dominated most of the opening 35 minutes against a sloppy Meath side.
Indeed, Derry started the half as they began it when Ethan Doherty rifled a goal home in his side’s first attack of the game. Points from Padraig McGrogan, a lovely fisted effort after a lung-bursting run, and another from Shane McGuigan handed the Oakleafers an early 1-2 to 0-0 lead.
Thomas O’Reilly opened the Meath account in the 10th minute, after several early kicked balls in were well handled by the Derry defence.
Paul Cassidy and Benny Heron extended Derry’s lead before Donal Lenihan’s 19th minute point would be the Royals third and final score of a one-sided half.
Derry, while a little sloppy themselves, finished the half much the superior. A Padraig McGrogan ’45 was followed by further scores from Cassidy and Doherty before Toner’s bullet goal in first half injury time handed Derry that ten point half time lead.
Colm O’Rourke’s side could have been doing with a real filip at begin the second half, but it was the home side that once again grabbed the initiative. A monster point from Eoin McEvoy, outstanding in his debut season in the red and white, was quickly followed by Shane McGuigan’s second of the contest.
A 50th minute Thomas O’Reilly goal failed to spark a Royal County revival, however.
In contrast Derry continued to work the scoreboard at regular intervals. They hit five in a row mid-way through the second half to nail the Meath coffin shut. Paul Cassidy hit his third point of the contest, before Benny Heron helped himself to a brace, including a trademark outside of the boot effort, before Oisin McWilliams concluded the evening’s scoring with impressive Derry unbeaten.
Next up Derry are on the road to Kildare on Sunday while Meath host Louth.
Teams and scorers
Scorers for Derry: E Doherty 1-2, N Toner 1-0, S McGuigan 0-3, P Cassidy 0-3, B Heron 0-3, P McGrogan 0-2, E McEvoy 0-1, O McWilliams 0-1
Scorers for Meath: T O’Reilly 1-1, D Lenihan 0-2, D Moriarty 0-1, R Jones 0-1, A Lennon 0-1 (1f), B Conlon 0-1
Derry: Odhran Lynch, Chrissy McKaigue, Eoin McEvoy, Conor McCluskey, Padraig McGrogan, Conor Doherty, Padraig Cassidy, Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers, Niall Toner, Paul Cassidy, Ethan Doherty, Benny Heron, Shane McGuigan, Niall Loughlin.
Subs: O McWilliams for C McKaigue (60), Shea Downey for E Doherty (61), Matthew Downey for B Heron (65), Lachlan Murray for N Loughlin (67), Paul McNeill for C Glass (67).
Meath: Harry Hogan, Adam O’Neill, Michael Flood, Harry O’Higgins, Jack O’Connor, Donal Keegan, Cathal Hickey, Ronan Jones, Brian Conlon, Cillian O’Sullivan, Jason Scully, Darragh Campion, Jordan Morris, Donal Lenihan, Thomas O’Reilly
Subs: D McGowan for B Conlon (HT), S Crosby for D Campion (HT), D Moriarty for D Lenihan (47), E Harkin for H O’Higgins (53), A Lynch for T O’Reilly (60)
Referee: Liam Devenney (Mayo)
Highlights and reaction