A comeback for the ages in Donore

Meath U-15 Division 2A League Round 1

Seneschalstown 4-13 Wolfe Tones 4-11

The phrase ‘a game of two halves’ can often be an overused cliché but when it comes to summing up this U-15 Division 2 game there can be no saying which befits the match better. Trailing by fifteen points at the end of the first half Seneschalstown’s players could have been forgiven for going out in the second half and just going through the motions but what transpired was a comeback which not even their most optimistic supporter could have dreamt of as they bit by bit clawed the deficit back before eventually hitting the front in the fifty ninth minute.

A misty rain which fell before and for much of the game left the immaculate playing surface in Donore greasy meaning handling for both sides was difficult while some struggled to maintain their footing on occasion. Despite this the football on offer was highly entertaining which is to the credit of both sides with some excellent scores kicked over the hour.

A wise man had said earlier in the day that every juvenile game is like an All Ireland Final to those who play in it and while some on the sidelines can get carried away with thinking it’s an All Ireland Final for them the players the comment has its merits and certainly the thirty-four players who togged out on the morning of the All Ireland Football Final put on a match which served up plenty of football which wouldn’t have looked out of place in Croke Park just a few hours later.

Sean Commons, returning to action after a spell on the sidelines nursing an injury, was to go on to have an outstanding game as he kicked 1-10, 1-07 of which came in the second half and it was he who opened the scoring for the game in the first minute as he capitalised on a great block from Ross Mullen to point from a tight angle out on the left. Wolfe Tones though soon moved through the gears and by the seventh minute had opened up a seven point lead after they kicked 2-02. The Seneschalstown defence was under great pressure now despite some super kickouts from Cathal Darby who found his teammates regularly with pinpoint kicking.

Ross Mullen looked to stop the early rot when he pointed after eight minutes but the Kilberry outfit hit back with the next two points, one of which came from a free. The hardworking Liam Maguire was played through on goals soon after by Mullen but having showed his opponent a clean pair of heels Maguire saw his goal attempt well saved by the Wolfe Tones net minder. Sean Commons added a free on twelve minutes to leave seven points between the sides again but Wolfe Tones cancelled this score out two minutes later when pointing from play.

On the quarter hour Wolfe Tones opened up a more sizable gap between the sides as they kicked two more goals and by now they looked very threatening and were causing Seneschalstown untold problems. Sean Commons, whose younger brother Donal was by now on the field of play, made the most of a bit of back chat towards the referee when he tapped over a free which had been brought in to the thirteen metre line but it was Wolfe Tones who finished the half the stronger as they kicked the last three points to move into that fifteen point lead.

To harbour any hopes of pulling off an unlikely comeback Seneschalstown would need a quick start to the second half and they set about getting this immediately when just fifty-six seconds after Liam O’Brien threw the ball in Ross Mullen got on the end of a move and buried a goal past the Wolfe Tones goalkeeper. Sean Commons followed up with two pointed frees, the first of which was a peach of an effort from out on the right hand side off the outside of the right boot.

The gap was starting to dwindle but Wolfe Tones managed a point on forty-one minutes as they looked to take the sting out of any potential Seneschalstown comeback. There though was something stirring in the Seneschalstown team and when full forward Will Finnegan sent an angled shot goal bound from out on the right it dropped just short but deceived by the bounce the goalie became stranded and Sean Commons was left with the simple task of flicking the ball into the empty net. Suddenly it was game on and now there was only eight points between the sides.

The Seneschalstown defence, marshalled from full back by Padraig Finnegan were now getting on top and snuffing out scoring opportunities as they hassled and harried to great effect while in goals Cathal Darby’s positional sense was foot perfect for any shots which just dropped short. Joseph Moore and Simon Rooney were also now on top around the middle of the field while Seanie Dalton and Liam Maguire were foraging and hunting down any breaking ball.

Entering the final quarter Wolfe Tones kicked a point but the sharpshooting Sean Commons cancelled it out with a free before he landed a fine effort from play after Joseph Moore had made a crucial defensive intervention followed by a determined Jamie Kirwan run and a delightfully judged kick pass into Commons’ chest from the centre back. Ross Mullen who was a constant menace for the Wolfe Tones rear-guard then pilfered a goal and by now there was a growing sense that the comeback of comebacks was on.

A third point of the half from Wolfe Tones looked to put a halt to Seneschalstown’s momentum but unbowed the boys in blue settled themselves and continued their charge unabated. Joseph Moore landed a well taken score after being picked out by a quickly taken forty-five from Commons and then Commons left just a solitary point between the teams when he saw his shot clip the left hand upright on its way over.

A grandstand finish was now in progress and such was the stunning nature of the Seneschalstown comeback from seemingly being as dead as anybody laid to rest in the ancient burial tomb of Newgrange just across the River Boyne that it came as no surprise that they struck the front with time almost up. The duo of Mullen and Commons who had proven hotter to handle than the Carolina Reaper pepper combined once more and when Commons goal effort was parried out Will Finnegan reacted quickest and slotted home to complete a Lazarus like recovery.

Seneschalstown: Cathal Darby, Tiernan Keogh, Padraig Finnegan, Ben Coffey, Josh Ryan, Jamie Kirwan, Cillian Lawlor, Simon Rooney, Joseph Moore (0-01), Seanie Dalton, Sean Commons (1-10, 0-06 Frees), Liam Maguire, Ross Mullen (2-02), Will Finnegan (1-00), Alan Carey.

Seneschalstown Substitutions: Donal Commons for A. Carey, Aaron Traynor for T. Keogh, Dara Walsh for J. Ryan.

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