Sports

Struggling Derry crushed by Meath in second half

Thursday, 16 February 2017

WHEN Derry beat Meath in the All Ireland qualifiers last summer, they had only two of that starting team in action at Navan on Sunday. Not surprisingly they suffered one of their worst league defeats in recent years.
With the Slaughtneil contingent still club tied, allied to injuries and others opting out, Derry could have a struggle to stay in Division Two.
Derry had drawn their first game with Clare while Meath had suffered a trouncing from neighbours Kildare. Based on that, Derry were not without hope as they headed for Navan, a venue where they have a very good record. It was just their second defeat to Meath in 40 years and this Meath team is nothing special.
The Royals had a big physical advantage over a young and light Derry side that lacked experience in some areas. They led at half time by two points, assisted by the stiff breeze but were put to the sword in the second half and out scored by 3-11 to 0-3. That puts things in perspective as to where Derry are at the moment. In every county, except the big boys, players are opting out, realising that no matter how many night's training they do, there may be no end result. In the other games, Down travelled to Clare and lost. A number of their players refused to travel in what looks to be the latest GAA player revolt. Kildare won by 2-11 to 0-11.
Galway travelled to Fermanagh and won by six points and in the remaining game, Kildare turned in a powerful performance to win easily against promotion favourites Cork who, like Derry, are on just a point after two games.
With Slaughtneil winning in style on Saturday against St. Vincent's and looking forward to an All Ireland final on March 17, the league will be near enough over before their contingent is are ready for county duty.
There is also the matter of an All Ireland hurling semi final against Cuala of Dublin on Saturday week and this will involve the players who are likely to be in the Derry panel.
To be fair to Derry, they were good in the first half with the wind on their backs but on the turnover, they were simply blown away by the home team. With Brian Menton in complete control at midfield, their forwards bored holes in a fragile Derry defence in the last 25 minutes and for the Derry supporters who made the long trip, it was a sobering experience.
Both goalie Ben McKindless and half forward Enda Lynn picked up black cards in the closing stages and Meath's Alan Forde got two yellows and a red seven minutes from the end. By that stage, Derry were seven points adrift and on the verge of collapse.
*Read the full story in this week's Northern Constitution.

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