By Daire Walsh
Meath will face Tipperary in the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Final after they produced a powerhouse display in overcoming Roscommon at Nowlan Park.
The attacking quartet of Emma Duggan, Orla Byrne, Fiona O’Neill and Vicki Wall all goaled for Meath, who will be seeking to make amends for last year’s final defeat to Tyrone.
In a tentative opening, points were traded between Wall and Roscommon corner-forward Rebecca Finan. The Royals eventually created some daylight with powerful contributions from Byrne and Duggan, before Dunboyne’s O’Neill kicked to the net on ten minutes to edge them five points in front.
Finan replied either side of an O’Neill point to keep Roscommon in touch and Jenny Higgins also fisted over at a tight angle.
Indeed, after Finan cancelled out a Duggan free, Natalie McHugh released full-forward Aimee O’Connor for a superb goal. Rather than being the catalyst for the Rossies, however, this finish served as a wake-up call for Meath.
After O’Neill and Duggan split the uprights in style, Byrne’s 1-1 salvo propelled Meath towards a 2-8 to 1-6 lead at the break. Finan’s fifth point had helped the westerners to end the opening period in a positive light and they reduced their deficit even further on the restart.
Supplementing Laura Fleming’s close-range effort, the outstanding Eire Og attacker dissected the posts in consummate style on the left-wing. This was the cue for Duggan to take the game by the scruff of the neck, and the Dunboyne star registered 1-2 without reply in a six-minute spell.
When she was pushed to the ground inside the square by Roscommon defender Alice Kelly, the dynamic centre-forward coolly slotted a penalty beyond the reach of Helena Cummins. She subsequently added a brace of points to sustain Meath’s momentum and their fourth goal of the contest inevitably through a Wall thunderbolt on 44 minutes.
This effectively placed the outcome beyond doubt and while Sinead Glennon, Higgins, McHugh and Finan all found the range for the Rossies, Meath continued to inflict damage at the far end.
Wing-back Megan Thynne, Kelsey Nesbitt, Emma White and Kate Byrne were the latest additions to the scoresheet as Meath eased towards their second decider in succession.
Scorers – Meath: E Duggan 1-5 (1-0 pen, 2f), F O’Neill 1-4, O Byrne 1-3, V Wall 1-2, K Nesbitt 0-2, E White 0-2, M Thynne 0-1, K Byrne 0-1.
Roscommon: R Finan 0-7 (4f), A O’Connor 1-0, J Higgins 0-2, L Fleming 0-1, N McHugh 0-1, S Glennon 0-1.
Meath: M McGuirk; K Newe, S Powderly, O Duff; S Ennis, M Thynne, S Wall; M O’Shaughnessy, A Cleary; V Wall, E Duggan, O Byrne; B Lynch, F O’Neil, K Nesbitt. Subs: E White for Lynch (47), M O’Brien for S Wall (50), K Byrne for O’Shaughnessy (55), S Melia for O’Neill (56), A Leahy for Duggan (56).
Roscommon: H Cummins; H Ennis, A McLoone, N Feeney; J Cregg, A Kelly, S Bruen; S Kenny, L Fleming; S Tully, R Wynne, N McHugh; R Finan, A O’Connor, J Higgins. Subs: M Kelly for Feeney (37), S Glennon for O’Connor (43), R Brady for Cregg (43), K Daly for Fleming (51), R Fitzmaurice for Tully (52).
Ref: Stephen McNulty (Wicklow).