Christy Ring Cup final
Meath 1-23 Derry 1-21
By Michael McMullan
MEATH had to fend off a stern Derry comeback to deny the Oakleafers a first Christy Ring Cup title in a game of two halves at Croke Park on Saturday afternoon.
It was the shootout between star men Cormac O’Doherty and James Regan who hit 1-14 and 0-14 respectively.
The Royals were out of the blocks, were ruthless in front of the posts and were 10 points ahead by half-time.
Éamon Ó Donnchadha opened the scoring for the sizzling Royals after just 25 seconds.
John Mullan and Cormac O’Doherty missed chances with goalkeeper Ennis denying Corey O’Reilly a goal from a half chance.
Jack Regan, Nicholas Potterton and Ó Donnchadha added scores as Meath went 0-7 to 0-0 ahead before Sean Kelly opened the Derry account after 12 minutes.
Derry went short with many of their puck-outs, retained possession but were unable to break down a Meath defence helped with James Toher back as sweeper.
O’Doherty hit six frees with brother Oisin denying James Kelly a goal as Meath led 0-17 to 0-7 at half-time.
Cormac O’Doherty opened the scoring with a free but Meath hit the net minutes later.
A long Ennis puck-out found Potteron behind midfield who surged through before hitting the net to open a 1-17 to 0-8 lead after 38 minutes.
Derry battled well, but Meath pushed into a 1-20 to 0-10 lead by the 45th minute before Derry’s purple patch of 1-5 without reply.
O’Doherty hit two frees before hitting the net with a close-range free in the 52nd minute to cut the gap to 1-20 to 1-12.
Paddy Kelly was defending manfully with Derry’s momentum taking them back to within a point.
There was also another O’Doherty save to deny Meath sub Mark O’Sullivan.
Derry had Sean Cassidy sent off – on a second booking – in the latter stages and they kept piling on the pressure, but a late Regan free put the Royals two ahead.
There was one last chance but with Derry needing a goal, O’Doherty dropped the ball in before Meath cleared their lines to the sound of the final whistle.
Derry: Oisin O’Doherty; Sean Francis Quinn, Mark Craig, Paddy Kelly; Richie Mullan; Sean Cassidy, James Friel; Cormac O’Doherty (1-14f), Meehaul McGrath; Eamon Conway, Corey O’Reilly (0-2), Darragh McGilligan; Sean Kelly (0-1), John Mullan (0-2), Paul Cleary
Subs: Segdae Melaugh (0-1) for S Kelly (INJ 13), Eoghan Cassidy for E Conway (32), Pádhraig Nelis (0-1) for P Cleary (48), Callum O’Kane for D McGilligan (60),
Meath: Charlie Ennis; Michael Burke, Shane Brennan, Brendan McKeon; James Toher; Niall McLarnon, Seán Geraghty (0-1), Simon Ennis (0-1); Pa Ryan (0-1), Martin Healy (0-1); Éamon Ó Donnchadha (0-3), James Kelly (0-1); Stephen Morris, Jack Regan (0-14, 11f), Nicholas Potterton (1-1)
Subs: Gerard Dwane for S Geraghty (blood sub 11, reversed 21), Adam Gannon for S Morris (HT), Gerard Dwane for P Ryan (52), Pádraig O’Hanrahan for S Brennan (52), Mark O’Sullivan for J Kelly (64), James Murray for É Ó Donnchadha (67)
Referee: Kevin Jordan (Tipperary)