Extra-time a bridge too far

Meath U-16 Division 1 League Playoff

Dunshaughlin 5-14 Seneschalstown 4-09

Following a pulsating eighty minutes in Dunshaughlin on Tuesday evening it was the hosts who eventually won out after they defeated Seneschalstown by eight points in a game which required extra time to separate the two teams. In a match which ebbed and flowed throughout with both sides having periods of dominance and in which the playing conditions altered following a shower of rain which left the playing surface greasy towards the end of the first half of the regulation hour the two teams served up some excellent football as both looked to attack at every opportunity.

With the prize of a semi-final spot against Dunboyne at stake, there was much to achieve for both teams and from the first minute to the last both Dunshaughlin and Seneschalstown looked to do everything possible to qualify for the last four. From last ditch tackling, top quality saves from the goalkeepers, wonderful fielding in the middle of the field to brilliant attacking play the two teams served up a feast of football.

When the game went to extra time it was the ability of the home side to hit two goals while keep out the dangerous Seneschalstown attackers that proved crucial as the side in blue were left to rue the loss through injury late in the second half of normal time of Adam O’Mara who was causing some trouble for the Dunshaughlin defence with his direct running. Allied to this they were already missing the services of Jamie Kirwan whose loss was keenly felt.

Seneschalstown, it was who kicked the opening point of the game when after Alan Mulvany broke a Dunshaughlin kickout down to Jason Lyons, the hardworking full forward managed to recycle the ball back out to Mulvany despite being under immense pressure from the Dunshaughlin defenders. Mulvany worked the ball left to Adam O’Mara who in turn found corner forward Ross Mullen. The lively Mullen then spotted the supporting Sean Commons and Commons made no mistake as he curled over from out on the left.

Dunshaughlin replied and quite the response it was when playing into the Community College end of the ground they saw a forty-five drop short but following a brief scramble one of their forwards managed to divert the ball into the Seneschalstown goal. Alan Mulvany replied with a point on six minutes when he got on the end of a flowing team move which started when wing back Sean Carey was picked out with a short kickout by goalkeeper Brian Boyd. Seneschalstown then pulled level when after a foul on Joseph Moore, Alan Mulvany sent the resultant free over the bar from off the ground.

Seneschalstown were now growing into the match and found themselves three points to the good when Dylan Keating slipped his goal attempt past the Dunshaughlin net minder after a typically strong Joseph Moore run. Alan Mulvany who was enjoying a strong opening to the match then swung over a left footed point after Joseph Moore intercepted a stray clearance from the Dunshaughlin goalkeeper when he was being put under immense pressure from Jason Lyons.

The home side were looking dangerous when on the attack and had goal on their mind at every turn. On thirteen minutes Brian Boyd was forced into action as he knocked over a goal attempt before a minute later he parried out another goal effort, this save a particularly brilliant effort. Seneschalstown’s response to this was in itself impressive and they stretched their lead out when Dylan Keating squeezed another goal effort in. Dunshaughlin replied with a point following a quickly taken free kick. Just as the side in black and amber were looking for goals at every opportunity so were the wind assisted Seneschalstown and they managed to pilfer a third when after good play from Mulvany and Adam O’Mara, Jason Lyons sent a rasper of a shot into the corner of the net.

This goal left Seneschalstown seven points to the good and they soon made that eight when Ross Mullen chipped over a point. Seneschalstown seemed to be in a strong position but within a minute their lead was back down to five points following a very well worked Dunshaughlin goal. There was to be no further scores in the opening half and so the teams retired at the interval with the score reading Dunshaughlin 2-03 Seneschalstown 3-05.

Upon the resumption of play Seneschalstown pushed that lead back out to six points when after twenty-seven seconds of play Alan Mulvany pointed following good play from Sean Commons, Adam O’Mara and Daire Finnegan. This though proved to be their last score for twenty minutes as Dunshaughlin took a firm grip on proceedings. On thirty-two minutes they launched their fightback with a free before Brian Boyd pulled off another smart stop as he deflected a goal effort over his own crossbar. Two more pointed frees, with an effort from play sandwiched in between saw the gap back down to a point with forty-seven minutes played and all the momentum now definitely behind Dunshaughlin.

The equalised with another point from a free two minutes later and then struck the front when netting a goal from play. Their lead then became four points on fifty minutes and at this stage Seneschalstown’s goose looked to be cooked as they were struggling to get their hands on the ball around the middle of the field and couldn’t launch any attacks of note.

Somehow though they managed to drag themselves back into proceedings when they fashioned a goal. Dylan Keating embarked on a jinking run before finding Daire Finnegan who was rampaging through the middle like a runaway locomotive. Finnegan broke through a few challenges before pulling the trigger but saw the goalkeeper equal to the challenge. Ross Mullen however was alert to the ball which broke loose and he quick as a flash pounced upon the ball before drilling it to the back of the net. Joseph Moore was now operating at wing back in a switch with Cillian Gormley but he showed his attacking instincts moments later when going on a forward run. Moore’s run was unceremoniously halted with a shoulder in the back resulting in Seneschalstown being awarded a free and after composing himself Alan Mulvany from about ten metres to the left of the uprights curled his free over off the ground.

Thanks to their undoubted fighting spirit and never say die attitude Seneschalstown found themselves level and then managed to edge one ahead when Joseph Moore, once more finding himself in an attacking position fired over. There was still time for one more twist in this riveting tale when Dunshaughlin pulled an equaliser out of the bag, a score which was enough to send the match to extra time.

In truth neither side deserved to lose the match over the regulation hour and after sixty minutes of brilliant football a draw was a fair result.

It took all of four minutes for the opening score of extra time to arrive but it was worth the wait as Dylan Keating sent over an unbelievable point off the outside of his left boot from out near the left hand touchline to gasps of appreciation from the crowd. This ended up being as good as it got in extra time for Seneschalstown as Dunshaughlin, having run their substitutes in and out throughout the game in a rotating manner had the fresher legs for extra time and by half time had opened up a three-point lead.

Seneschalstown now needed a goal or two if they were to have any chance of winning through to the semi-final but after first picking off a free it was Dunshaughlin who found that coveted major on seventy-four minutes before wrapping up their victory with a point from play on seventy-eight minutes.

Seneschalstown may not now have a semi-final to look forward to and their journey in this Division 1 League may be over but such is the rate of progression in this group of players that they can look to the future with great hope and anticipation. If they progress as much in the next two years as they have in the last two, when they last contested in Division 1 then they will be some force to be reckoned with.

Best for Seneschalstown on Tuesday evening on a night when each player who took to the field battled their heart out were Brian Boyd, Dylan Keating and Alan Mulvany. We wish Dunshaughlin all the best now in their semi-final.

Seneschalstown: Brian Boyd, Cathal Hickey, Simon Rooney, Christian McAuley, Cillian Gormley, Ciaran Mongey, Sean Carey, Daire Finnegan, Sean Commons (0-01), Joseph Moore (0-01), Alan Mulvany (0-05, 0-02 Frees), Adam O’Mara, Dylan Keating (2-01), Jason Lyons (1-00), Ross Mullen (1-01).

Seneschalstown Substitutions: Padraig Finnegan for A. O’Mara, Fionn Hall for J. Lyons

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