National Football League Division 2 – Sunday, 17th March 2019
Meath 1-12 Clare 1-7
Clare will need to beat Tipperary next Sunday for the first time since 2003 to guarantee survival in the National Football League Division Two.
A third consecutive loss to league leaders Meath left the Banner stuck on three points with Tipperary and Cork, only ahead of their Munster rivals on scoring difference.
While Clare’s safety was never going to be assured, a result would have helped matters as a draw with their Premier rivals will only suffice if the Rebels don’t beat Armagh.
At half-time, Clare trailed 0-8 to 1-4 but had the strong wind in their backs for the second period. But they only added three further scores, all from the boot of Eoin Cleary.
After a strong Meath start yielding four scores in six minutes, Clare started creeping back as Gavin Cooney, Eoin Cleary and David Tubridy left them just 0-5 to 0-4 behind on 23 minutes.
Cillian O’Sullivan responded for the Royals but the contest seemed to be turned on its head on 29 minutes as Sean O’Donoghue found the net and Clare were 1-4 to 0-6 clear.
Even though Mickey Newman and Barry Dardis overturned the deficit before half-time, there was every reason to be confident but Colm Collins’ charges just didn’t pull the trigger.
Mickey Newman and Eoin Cleary traded minors but when Graham Reilly got the Meath goal on 51 minutes, it looked like the visitors had taken control.
Three further white flags had Clare seven behind and suddenly in the relegation zone. Eoin Cleary’s late brace restored their sixth placed spot but they will need to deliver next week or Division Three football awaits.
Scorers – Clare: Sean O’Donoghue 1-0, Eoin Cleary 0-5, Gavin Cooney 0-1, David Tubridy 0-1.
Scorers – Meath: Cillian O’Sullivan 0-3, Michael Newman 0-5, Bryan Menton 0-1, Darragh Campion 0-1, Thomas O’Reilly 0-1, Barry Dardis 0-1, Graham Reilly 1-0.
Clare: Pierce DeLoughrey; Kevin Hartnett, Cillian Brennan, Gordon Kelly; Dean Ryan, Aaron Fitzgerald, Cian O’Dea; Gary Brennan, Cathal O’Connor; Kieran Malone, Sean Collins, Jamie Malone; Eoin Cleary, David Tubridy, Conor Finucane.
Meath: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Ronan Ryan; Gavin McCoy, Donal Keogan, Shane Gallagher; Bryan Menton, Shane McEntee; Cillian O’Sullivan, Ben Brennan, Darragh Campion; Bryan McMahon, Michael Newman, Thomas O’Reilly.
Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin)