Delight for devastating D's

Meath Junior D Football Championship Final

Seneschalstown 3-11 Curraha 2-10

Having been beaten in the decider in 2013 and at the penultimate stage in 2014 Seneschalstown’s Junior D players came to Páirc Tailteann on the first Saturday of September with only one thing on their mind, to get their hands on the Liam Creavin Cup. And if they were to do it, it would have to be done the hard way. Going on League form Curraha would have to have been raging hot favourites as they earned promotion to the B League Division 3 this year while Seneschalstown suffered relegation down to Division 6.

The surface in Páirc Tailteann for the match was immaculate and credit to the Co. Board for the match programme which had the teams for every game to be held in the county grounds over the weekend. This Seneschalstown outfit has a potent cocktail of youth and experience with players like Stephen Dillon and David Hosie, Keegan Cup winners in 1994 and 1997 respectively lining out alongside numerous members of the club’s Minor side, two of whom, Ryan O’Dowd and Eoin Finnegan made handsome contributions to the scoreboard over the hour.

Right from the outset it was clear that this game was going to be a belter when after Curraha had missed a half chance for goal David Gordon took the resultant kickout and from this the ball was worked out to David Hosie in the right hand corner. Hosie looked up and spotted the lively corner forward Eoin Finnegan lurking menacingly across the far side of the goal mouth. He picked out Finnegan with a brilliant delivery and from there no mistake was made as the number thirteen rolled the ball back across the goal and into the right hand corner. It didn’t take Curraha long to get their reply in and when after a long ball was sent in towards the Seneschalstown goal corner back Colin Walsh was unlucky to lose his footing and when corner forward David Coyle got possession he made no mistake as he drove high into the roof of the Seneschalstown net. Only five minutes gone and already two goals on the board!

Boosted by this almost instantaneous reply of the goal Curraha kicked two points in a minute, the first of which went over off the left hand upright. Seneschalstown needed a score and seemed set to get one when Ryan O’Dowd was fouled. However, Eoin Finnegan’s effort rebounded back out off the post. The Seneschalstown forwards reacted quickest and regained possession before David Hosie was fouled and this time Finnegan tapped over the free. Curraha picked off their third point of the half before Eoin Finnegan tagged on his second from a free after he himself was fouled as he looked to get on the end of good play from Ryan O’Dowd and Terry Maguire.

As the match entered the second quarter Curraha kicked over a free, a score which was immediately cancelled out when Ryan O’Dowd kicked one of his own after Tommy Duggan was fouled. Still without a point from play Seneschalstown soon had another from a free when after excellent play from Terry Maguire, Cormac Mullen and Frank Sheridan, Eoin Finnegan drew the foul and his minor teammate Ryan O’Dowd kicked the resultant free. On twenty minutes Curraha notched another from play before from all of forty five metres David Hosie sent a monster of a free over the bar.

By now the Seneschalstown management including selector Leo Sheridan who had made a 5,070 km round trip home for the final had decided that it was time to spring one of their trump cards off the bench and they introduced Niall Hickey into the fray. Hickey’s introduction resulted in a reshuffle with Colin Walsh moving out to wing back and Sean Doyle switching to wing forward as the young tyro slotted in at corner back. This switch, allied to the introduction of another promising youngster, Dylan Doyle – son of Sean, a few moments later seemed to buoy the Dunbia sponsored side as they finished the first half the stronger. Firstly Ryan O’Dowd sent over a free before Eoin Finnegan helped himself to his second major of the game. David Hosie saw his point attempt hit the left hand upright and reacting quickest to the dropping ball Finnegan caught it and swivelled before he sent it past the goalie with his right peg.

Soon after referee Tom Lorton sounded the whistle for half time and in spite of being yet to raise a white flag from play thus far in the game Seneschalstown found themselves in the ascendancy by four points, 2-06 to 1-05. A lovely feature of the half time break was the exhibition game between the U-12 sides from both clubs as these stars of the future got an opportunity to play on the hallowed sod of the county grounds.

When the game got back underway Eddie Meade extended his side’s advantage to five points when he sent over after a sweeping team move. This score sparked Curraha into life and they rattled off the next three points, two from frees. Ryan O’Dowd sought to settle his side with a thirty five metre free on thirty nine minutes but Curraha replied a minute later. By now there was only two points between the teams and Curraha seemed to have all the momentum in their favour as well as the advantage of playing with the breeze at their backs. An incident in the forty seventh minute was to alter this though. Seneschalstown’s Sean Doyle was on the ground having appeared to be caught by a Curraha player and when he got back to his feet there was a coming together of the two men and following this both Doyle and the centre forward for Curraha, David Dunne were instructed to vacate the field of play.

The side in green and gold initially didn’t appear to be too put out by this when they reduced the deficit further to just the solitary point with twelve minutes of the regulation sixty remaining. David Hosie brought it back out to two with an outstanding point from play two minutes later. The strength of the Seneschalstown bench was then further brought to bear on the game when Paul McDonnell, back from a broken collar bone, was introduced for Eddie Meade. At this point there was little between the teams but all was to change utterly when Ryan O’Dowd rattled the back of the Curraha net after David Hosie and the just introduced McDonnell had combined to set him up for the goal chance.

Eoin Finnegan then extended the lead out to six points when converting a free before the score of the game was delivered by Seneschalstown midfielder, captain and veteran of the 2003 Junior D Championship success, Francis Sheridan sent a point effort off the outside of his left over the bar at the hospital end from the shadow of the stand. The seven point margin that now stood between the teams did little justice for Curraha and a more realistic look was brought to the scoreboard when they won a seventy first minute penalty which Declan Hanley expertly drove into the top corner despite the best efforts of David Gordon to keep it out.

The final whistle then sounded as the game was eventually brought to a close and for the Junior D panel from Seneschalstown the celebrations began. On an evening when they had excellent performances all over the field they were particularly well serve by Gordon in goals whose kickouts were outstanding, Colin Walsh who swept up a huge amount of ball as well as always being an attacking outlet when switched to wing back, Terry Maguire, David Hosie and the two goal heroes, Messrs Finnegan and O’Dowd. When the club last won the Junior D Championship some of the younger members of the team went on to win the Keegan Cup in 2007 and 2009. Judging by some of the talented youngsters on display in this game few would bet against history repeating itself.

Seneschalstown: David Gordon, Colin Walsh, Conor Ruddy, Ian Carey, Cormac Mullen, Steven Dillon, Sean Doyle, Terry Maguire, Francis Sheridan (0-01), Robert Mullen, David Hosie (0-02, 0-01 Free), Ryan O’Dowd (1-03, 0-03 Frees), Eoin Finnegan (2-04, 0-04 Frees), Eddie Meade (0-01), Thomas Duggan.

Seneschalstown Substitutions: Niall Hickey for R. Mullen, Dylan Doyle for T. Duggan, Shane Gargan for C. Ruddy, Paul McDonnell for E. Meade, Mark Gleeson for R. O’Dowd, Danny McLoughlin for I. Carey.

Curraha: Luke McCarthy, PJ McMahon, Conor McCann, Kevin Laffey, Brendan Doyle, Gary Dowling, Mark Phelan, Sean Keogh (0-02, 0-01 free), Andrew Coyle (0-01), Sean Laffey, David Dunne (0-05, 0-03 frees), Brian Cosgrave, Daniel Doran, Robbie Mooney, David Coyle (1-02).

Curraha Substitutions: Aaron McDonnell for Mooney, Declan Hanley (1-00, 1-00 pen) for Cosgrave Neil O'Dowd for Doyle, Alan O'Connor for Doran.

Link to Fixture: 
Junior D Championship Final

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