A Royal performance by Sean in Croke Park

GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Round 4, Croke Park, Dublin 27/7/2013'Meath vs Tyrone'Meath's Michael Newman and Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Ryan Byrne

GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Round 4, Croke Park, Dublin 27/7/2013'Meath vs Tyrone'Meath's Michael Newman and Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Ryan Byrne

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The Red Hands were made to work all the way to the death for their two point victory as Meath refused to wilt in the white hot atmosphere of Croke Park.

Sean Cavanagh recaptured some of his finest form producing a fantastic performance and demonstrating his prowess both in open play and from the placed ball scoring eight points on the night.

While Tyrone were generally sound defensively they struggled to contain the pace of the pacey Meath wing forward Eamonn Wallace, the nineteen year old former Irish Junior sprint champion, tormented the Tyrone rearguard for much of the game reeling off a goal and three points.

Tyrone however showed enough grit and determination dominating the middle stages of each half to build a match winning lead.

In what was a fairly cagey opening with both sides missing opportunities to register the first score, before Meath eventually opened the scoring with a goal from Wallace.

The Ratoath club man used his pace to get at the heart of the Tyrone defence before firing low past a helpless Pascal McConnell

Meath looked the more dangerous side for much of the opening quarter but Tyrone began to claw their way back into the game, first through a Darren McCurry free after a foul on Cavanagh and then through Matthew Donnelly who fired on when a goal looked a possibility.

Meath extended their lead through a Mickey Newman free from 50 metres before Peter Harte and Stephen O’Neill combined to narrow the gap once again.

Harte was more involved in play than he has been in many of his Tyrone performances this season though his decision making isn’t quite at the level it was when he was regularly putting in man of the match performances last season.

Newman again pointed a free before Tyrone let loose on their Leinster opponents.

McCurry started a run of five unanswered points firing over a free after a foul on O’Neill before Sean Cavanagh gave Tyrone the lead for the first time with two frees of his own.

Cavanagh won and converted what looked a fairly soft free from the right wing before the big midfielder kicked a beauty from play standing up a Meath defender and firing over from 35 metres.

Tyrone’s defence was proving solid at this point only breached by a Newman 45 before Cavanagh responded with another great effort from play.

Stephen Bray kicked a wonderful effort from almost off the sideline before Mattie Donnelly and McCurry rounded off the first half’s scoring, Donnelly from play and McCurry from a 45.

As was the case against Kildare, Tyrone let their opponents back into the game in the opening exchanges of the second half.

A foul on the always dangerous Newman allowed the corner forward to kick another simple free from in front of the posts, although Cavanagh cancelled this score out a few moments later with a free at the other end after a foul on Penrose.

Meath responded with a great run from wing back Seamus Kenny, the Simonstown Gaels clubman was fouled by Conor Gormley and the Royals had a penalty.

Newman made no mistake from the spot firing his penalty high passed Pascal McConnell in the roof of the Tyrone net.

The game was on a knife edge now and Meath got the next two points to send them into the lead with Eamonn Wallace firing over twice from 30 metres in a matter of minutes.

Tyrone needed to show their mettle and they did firstly through a well taken Aidan Cassidy point from play to get them back on terms.

McCurry was then fouled allowing Cavanagh to swing over another free from 35 metres as Tyrone moved up a gear.

As in the first half Tyrone rattled off points without reply McCurry adding two more points, the first an excellent and composed effort from play and then a free.

As the game wore Tyrone ‘shut up shop’ getting numbers behind the ball and stopping Meath building momentum.

Wallace and Newman grabbed scores for the Royals but Tyrone showed their resilience, Kyle Coney drawing a free which Sean Cavanagh converted as time wound down.

Stephen O’Neill finished the game on the sideline 
sent off late for his second yellow card offence as a 
late Meath effort on goal 
was saved by Pascal 
McConnell.

Mickey Harte will know that Tyrone haven’t reached the heights they can but if Sean Cavanagh can replicate the kind of form he demonstrated against Meath then the Red Hands will have every chance of reaching a semi final.