GAA: Tyrone squeeze past Meath and into qualifier draw

Mattie Donnelly advances for Tyrone under the watchful eyes of Bryan Menton. INTT2915-704DCA

Mattie Donnelly advances for Tyrone under the watchful eyes of Bryan Menton. INTT2915-704DCA

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Tyrone 1-10 Meath 0-11

Tyrone showed their mettle on Saturday as they held firm to see off Meath at Healy Park to book their place in the Round 3B draw of the qualifiers.

Tyrone showed their mettle on Saturday as they held firm to see off Meath at Healy Park to book their place in the Round 3B draw of the qualifiers.

Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh hits the ground. INTT2915-703DCA

Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh hits the ground. INTT2915-703DCA

It took an improved second half display though from Mickey Harte’s side, after a poor first half to seal the win, Peter Harte’s penalty with eleven minutes to go proving crucial.

The first half would be perhaps best left forgotten as Meath failed to score until the 29th minute, but still led 0-4 to 0-3 at the break, while Tyrone created the best of the early running.

Joe McMahon’s long range effort caused mayhem in the Meath defence and Connor McAliskey went close, but it was Sean Cavanagh who opened the Tyrone account nine minutes in after good work from McAliskey.

The big Moy man was on target again after he collected from the advancing Ronan McNabb.

Peter Harte maintains possession for Tyrone as Meath's Brian McMahon approaches for the tackle. INTT2915-705DCA

Peter Harte maintains possession for Tyrone as Meath's Brian McMahon approaches for the tackle. INTT2915-705DCA

The Royals eventually rallied and scores from Michael Newman, Donncha Tobin and Graham Reilly saw them hit a fine spell before the break.

Newman had a shot on goal well saved by Niall Morgan before the Royals hit those four points in five minutes. Mark Bradley’s point left just one point though between the sides at the short whistle.

It was poor fayre from Tyrone and little better from Meath, the first 35 minutes failing to have much in the way of championship bite.

Always the tactician, Mickey Harte made half time changes and altered the Tyrone second half game plan, Darren McCurry and Tiernan McCann sprung from the bench and Sean Cavanagh moved out from the square. The effect was immediate after Brian McMahon had given Meath a two point lead just after the restart.

Peter Harte fends off the challenge from Meath's Harry Rooney. INTT2915-700DCA

Peter Harte fends off the challenge from Meath's Harry Rooney. INTT2915-700DCA

McCann ran at the Meath men, there was more purpose and ambition about Tyrone as Peter Harte and the buzzing McAliskey levelled things with well taken scores that had Healy Park crackling with excitement. Tyrone were playing well all over the park but the key moment came just after Donal Keogan had put Meath back in front.

Referee Ciaran Branagan pointed to the spot when McCann was adjudged to have been fouled as he ran in on goal.

Peter Harte slammed the ball high past Meath keeper McHugh, although the Meath custodian seemed to get at least a finger tip to the pile driver.

The impressive Mark Bradley added to the point tally and points from McNabb and McCann left Tyrone in front by three with Ronan O’Neill working to tee up chances.

With ten minutes to go Meath were far from out of the tie as they pressed for an equalising score.

Joe McMahon was immense in this spell, he dominated as Meath threw everything at the hosts. Kevin Reilly came on for Newman and added a quick point while Graham Reilly hit his third point to leave just the minimum between the sides going into the final minutes.

Mark Bradley’s point settled Tyrone again but there was time for still more drama as Reilly put Joey Wallace in on goal but with the entire Tyrone defence baring down on the Ratoath forward he skittled his effort wide of Morgan’s net.

A battle for Tyrone but the second half changes helped them into the hat for the third round draw.