By DARAGH SMALL in Coralstown
Emma Duggan inspired Meath to a second Lidl Ireland NFL Division 3 final in a row with this win against Longford at a sunny Coralstown, Kinnegad. Meath will now face Sligo in the decider in a fortnight’s time.
Sixteen-year-old Duggan was brilliant in the second-half when her team brushed aside Longford’s challenge courtesy of some incisive attacking forays in the sweltering heat.
Meath were 2-11 to 1-7 in front at half-time after goals from Stacey Grimes and Vicki Wall, as Aisling Greene provided the Longford reply.
Michelle Farrell tapped over an early Longford score but that was cancelled out by Grimes, as her side went on the rampage. Aoibhín Cleary and Wall added points before Grimes’ penalty.
Mairéad Moore brought down Emma White, and Grimes stepped up to finish past Emer Esler into the top right corner.
That goal came in the sixth minute but despite trailing 1-4 to 0-1 in the seventh minute Longford stuck in the game and remained competitive coming up to half-time.
Ciara Healy tapped over a couple of frees while Farrell and Greene were causing trouble, and the Greene scored Longford’s goal in the 17th minute. She bundled the ball past Monica McGuirk after a fantastic save from close range. All of a sudden, Longford only trailed by 1-6 to 1-3.
But Meath finished the first-half on a high, and when Eimear O’Brien slipped, Wall capitalised emphatically and blasted the ball past Esler in the 30th minute.
Meath were seven points clear at the interval and Kelsey Nesbitt added their third goal in the fourth minute of the second-half. Michelle Farrell hit back three minutes later but the barrage of goals continued as Vicki Wall gave Meath a 4-11 to 2-8 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Greene scored her second goal for Longford but their scores dried up a crucial juncture, as Meath kicked on, inspired by the wonderful Duggan.
She scored tagged on four quick points, while Stacey Grimes added the fifth goal in the 59th minute.
Scorers – Meath: S Grimes 2-2 (2f), V Wall 2-2, E Duggan 0-6, K Nesbitt 1-1, E White 0-2, A Cleary 0-2, S Wall 0-1, O Byrne 0-1, O Lally 0-1.
Longford: A Greene 2-0, C Healy 0-5 (3f), M Farrell 1-2, E Heaney 0-1, J Brady 0-1, A McDonnell 0-1.
Meath: M McGuirk; O Duff, S Powderly, S Ennis; S Wall, A Cleary, N Gallogly; M O’Shaughnessy, O Lally; V Wall, E Duggan, M Thynne; E White, K Nesbitt, S Grimes.
Subs: O Byrne for White (47), K Byrne for Lally (53), K Newe for O’Shaughnessy (59), N Sheridan for Powderly (60).
Longford: E Esler; R O’Farrell, L Keegan, M Moore; O Nevin, E O’Brien, C Farrell; J Brady, M Reynolds; E Heaney, M Farrell, A McCormack; A McDonnell, A Greene, C Healy.
Subs: K Shannon for McCormack (h-t), L Gallagher for C Farrell (39), S Shannon for McDonnell (46), U Clarke for O’Farrell (54), A O’Brien for Reynolds (61).
Referee: John Devlin (Galway).