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Con O’Callaghan-inspired U21s progress to Leinster semi-final

Con O’Callaghan-inspired U21s progress to Leinster semi-final

Wed, 2nd March 2016


Dublin edged through to the next round of the EirGrid Leinster U21FC when they overcame Meath in Wednesday night's provincial quarter-final in Parnell Park.

Laois or Wickow (their quarter-final postponed to next Wednesday night) await in the semi-final and the Dubs will be happy to have jumped the first hurdle after fielding a team with several players making their intercounty championship debut at either minor or U21 level.

Cuala's Con O'Callaghan was the shining light in a hard-working Dublin display with his ball-winning, clever interplay, work-rate and eye for a score the primary difference between the side.

Con, whose father Maurice represented both Dublin and Westmeath at intercounty senior level, finished with personal tally of 1-7 (0-3f), the only goal of the night coming with the last kick of the opening half at which stage Dessie Farrell's men led 1-6 to 0-6 after playing against the wind.

The talented Cuala man was not long in announcing himself into the thick of the action when he posted the opening score of the night in the first minute. It was a good portent of  things to come.

While Meath responded through points from Ruairí O Coillean and Daire Rowe, Michael Deegan brought the sides level in the 11th minute with a fine curling point off his left foot following good initial work by O'Callaghan.

Dublin moved 0-6 to 0-3 clear with just over five minutes of normal time remaining in the half with Aaron Byrne, O'Callaghan (2) and Darragh Spillane on target.

Meath v Dublin - Eigrid Leinster GAA Football U21 Championship Quarter-Final

Byrne almost snatched a goal in the 27th minute but his quick-fire shot whizzed outside the near upright.

However, with half-time approaching the Royals had reeled in Dublin's advantage to leave the game poised at 0-6 each.

But O'Callaghan had the last word of the first half when a high delivery into the danger area broke off Deegan and O'Callaghan showed great nerve to round the keeper and fire to the net.

Meath carried the fight to Dublin the early stages of the second half and the loss of defender Martin Cahilan (second yellow card) would have encouraged the Royals.

Dublin finished with 13 men as following the Cuala man's dismissal in the 43rd minute Killian Deeley followed in injury-time (second yellow) while Meath's Ronan Jones was flashed a second yellow card in the 60th minute.

With 15 minutes remaining there was two points between the sides but with Brian Howard growing in confidence Dublin began to re-establish their foothold in the game.

Aaron Byrne slotted over at the end of a move initiated by good Dublin defence and O'Callaghan converted a free out towards the stand side to help his side into a 1-10 to 0-8 lead.

Into the final minutes of the game O'Callaghan's assured free-taking was enough to see Dublin into the last four in the province.

SCORERS - Dublin: C O'Callaghan 1-7 (0-3f), A Byrne 0-2, B Howard, M Deegan, D Spillane 0-1 each. Meath: D Rowe 0-5 (0-4f), R O Coileain 0-2, J McEntee, C Halligan 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: L Molloy; E Smith, S McMahon, D Bolger; M Cahilan, B Howard, C O’Shea; A Foley, K Deeley; T Lahiff, C O’Callaghan, G O’Reilly; M Deegan, A Byrne, D Spillane. Subs: D Monaghan for Bolger (ht), O Lynch for Deegan (21, inj), K Doherty for Foley (43), A McGowan for  O’Reilly (48), C Sallier for Spillane (52).

MEATH: J Lynch; M Flood, D O’Neill, J Reilly; G McGowan, T McGovern, N Kane; D Ryan, R Jones; K Ryan, J McEntee, S Byrne; J Wallace, R O Coileain, D Rowe. Subs: C Halligan for J Wallace (11,inj), K Traynor for McGowan (39), B Duggan for Byrne (35), N O’Reilly for  Ryan (48), J McCarney for O’Neill (55), S Meade for Kane (58).

REF: B Cawley (Kildare).

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