Gillic Genius Proves Crucial

Meath Junior D Football Championship Quarter Final

Seneschalstown 1-16 Kilmainham 2-08

On an evening when every score was hard earned Seneschalstown did just enough to overcome the stiff challenge of Kilmainham to book their passage into the semi-finals of the Junior D Football Championship for the third successive year. Central to this victory was the platform laid at midfield by the evergreen Terry Maguire while up front David Hosie and Eoin Finnegan constantly had the beating of their direct opponents. At different stages of the game the winners suffered knocks but on each occasion managed to regain their composure before ultimately finishing on the front foot when kicking three of the last four points.

With the side making two enforced alterations from their previous Championship game, Terry Maguire and Thomas Duggan coming in for the suspended Francis Sheridan and the injured Dylan Doyle the strength in depth of the Seneschalstown panel was tested but on this occasion they had just enough quality to keep the scoreboard ticking over while limiting the talented Kilmainham attack to just ten scores over the hour.

It took just three minutes for the Seneschalstown side to get off the mark when the wily David Hosie pointed over his left shoulder when he got into a scoring position after good link up play with David Fox and it didn’t take him long to record his second point when he clipped over a free just a minute later. The trend of goalkeepers venturing upfield to kick forty fives then reared its head when the Kilmainham goalie ventured upfield to send one straight between the uprights to get his side off the mark.

Sean Doyle who was to be a hugely influential figure over the hour had a hand in the next score as he broke a Ruairí McDonagh kickout down to David Fox who then linked up well with Colin Walsh before finding Thomas Duggan who ended up drawing a foul. Eoin Finnegan, then made no mistake as he sent over the resultant dead ball. Unfortunately for David Fox this was to be his last involvement in the encounter as he was soon forced to leave the field having picked up a knock. Whether it was coincidental to this or not Kilmainham suddenly grew into the game and picked off the next three scores, two of them points from play and the third being the first goal of the game as they surged into a three point lead, 1-03 to 0-03.

David Hosie settled his side with a well taken score from play following more good play from Sean Doyle before young Eoin Finnegan began to stamp his class all over the game. Firstly he popped a free over following a foul on Danny McLoughlin before he illustrated he benefits of a hard working corner forward. As a Kilmainham player carried the ball out of defence Finnegan tackled him and expertly stripped the ball clear in the tackle before bursting past the attention of a couple of defenders to fire over an inspirational point. Finnegan then kicked his third of a highly productive five minute spell following intelligent play from Danny McLoughlin and Sean Doyle. The first half scoring was then rounded off with a score apiece when a David Hosie free following an off the ball foul on Eddie Meade was replied to with a Kilmainham point when their full forward drew on a loose ball and sent it flying over the crossbar.

This left the minimum between the sides at the interval as Seneschalstown led by 0-08 to 1-04 but very few in Meath Hill would have predicted the outcome with much confidence at this stage.

Upon the resumption Kilmainham dominated possession but were unable to convert this into scores and it was Seneschalstown who were first to raise a flag when after he had initially rattled the crossbar with a rasping goal effort David Hosie knocked over a free following a Stephen Dillon turnover as the side from south of Kells looked to counter attack. Sean Doyle then extended the Seneschalstown lead to three after being picked out by a very intelligent crossfield pass from Hosie. What was to happen next will surely go down as one of the most bizarre incidents on a football field in 2015. Full forward Eddie Meade was bearing down on goal when he appeared to have his path blocked by a questionable tackle. Referee Peter O’Halloran appeared quite content to allow play continue but ended up blowing his whistle to award the 2014 beaten semi-finalists a free in after penalising a Kilmainham defender for over carrying the ball as he held onto the O’Neills, apparently believing a free had already been awarded to Seneschalstown following the challenge on Meade. The circumstances of the free being awarded may have been strange but David Hosie made no mistake as he popped the ball over the black spot.

Kilmainham then eventually got their first score of the half with all of sixteen minutes elapsed when their big full forward fisted a dropping ball over and then like a Dublin Bus their second of the half arrived just seconds later when they sent a free over. In response to these two scores Seneschalstown introduced the fresh legs of James Gillic as they sought to regain the initiative in proceedings. And indeed it took him less than two minutes to make his presence felt when he got on the end of a move which started off with excellent play from Cormac Mullen before seeing the ball pass through the hands of Niall Hickey, Eoin Finnegan and Robert Mullen before Gillic arrowed a shot over off his left. Even better was next to come from the substitute as he with his next touch was to score one of the more brilliantly finished goals one is likely to see at Junior D level. After Steven Dillon and Niall Hickey had combined to find him Gillic worked himself into a shooting position and spotting the goalkeeper had strayed marginally out of position he sent the most delightful of shots which just dipped under the angle of post and crossbar to the net minders right to notch his sides only goal of the game.

David Hosie sent over a point from play in the fifty sixth minute before Kilmainham showed they weren’t done just yet as they rocked Seneschalstown by grabbing a quick-fire goal and two points to once more leave the game right back in the melting pot. Eoin Finnegan sought to settle his side by raising a white flag but Kilmainham soon cancelled this out with one of their own and leave just three points between the sides as they entered injury time, of which all present knew there would be a substantial amount following a few stoppages for injuries. However Eoin Finnegan was to have the last say on events as he sent over two points in injury time to seal the victory and indeed the second of these was a score of real class as he curled over off his left foot from the narrowest of angles out in the left corner.

This was a victory which was earned by a side which was prepared to battle for every possession from the first whistle until the last and over the course of the near sixty six minutes that was played each and every one of the Seneschalstown players put their bodies on the line. From goalkeeper Ruairí McDonagh who is as brave as they come between the sticks to each one of the substitutes who all did well upon their introduction, especially James Gillic and Niall Hickey who stormed into the game when switched to centre back in the second half the men from the banks of the Boyne turned in a performance with the lethal cocktail of both silk and steel.

Seneschalstown: Ruairí McDonagh, Colin Walsh, Conor Ruddy, Shane Gargan, Cormac Mullen, Steven Dillon, Sean Doyle (0-01), David Fox, Terry Maguire, Daniel McLoughlin, David Hosie (0-07, 0-04 Frees), Robert Mullen, Eoin Finnegan (0-07, 0-02 Frees), Eddie Meade, Thomas Duggan.

Seneschalstown Substitutions: Niall Hickey for D. Fox, James Gillic (1-01) for T. Duggan, David Gordon for D. McLoughlin, Shane Mulvany for R. Mullen

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