Grade A performance secures brilliant victory

Teach na Teamhrach Meath Junior A Football Championship Group A Round 2

Seneschalstown 0-14 Meath Hill 0-12

Having lost out to the beaten 2015 finalists Dunsany in Round 1 of the Teach na Teamhrach Junior A Football Championship, Seneschalstown travelled to Drumconrath to take on Meath Hill in their second round encounter. With the sun beating down on the field of play it was a glorious evening for football and to fit the occasion both sides served up an excellent game of football, a game which referee Patrick Nelis allowed to flow at every opportunity.

A gentle breeze blew in from the Monaghan drumlins but in truth it wasn’t of enough strength to have a material impact on the game despite the fact it was going straight down the field. With the match being held in their own parish Meath Hill’s support heavily outnumbered that of the Seneschalstown side, with the increased admission fee not helping encourage supporters out a couple of times over a weekend in comparison to recent years when admission was set at €5.

Despite suffering the loss during the game of two thirds of their half back line and the impressive Gary Conlon, this was a hugely impressive performance from Seneschalstown against a side which plies its trade in Division 2 of the A League while Seneschalstown operate out of Division 2 in the B Leagues. However, the Dunbia sponsored side have a potent mixture of youth and experience and boosted by the availability of Eoin Finnegan up front there was a balanced look to the Seneschalstown forward line with Eddie Meade and Finnegan providing the youth while Shane Clarke and Gary Conlon offered the experience.

Meath Hill were the first to get off the mark when right corner forward Ian Malone knocked over a free into the clubhouse end of the field but Seneschalstown hit back on five minutes when after Mark Fox, who had earlier spent some time getting treatment after a heavy blow, did well to win a free around the middle of the field the ball was worked up along the left flank before centre forward Shane Clarke angled a wonderful point between the uprights. Seneschalstown hit the front soon after when Robert Ruddy, who enjoyed an outstanding hour at midfield, picked out Eddie Meade with an angled foot pass and Meade turned sharply and drove his left foot shot over the crossbar. Pierce McGrath levelled affairs with a point on fourteen minutes after the game had been held up due to an injury picked up by Seneschalstown’s Kevin Casey.

On the quarter hour Eoin Finnegan opened his account with a free after he was needlessly pushed in the back and a minute later James Conlon sent over a brilliant point. With Casey no longer able to continue, the pacy Ryan O’Dowd was introduced to the fray, resulting in something of a reshuffle which saw midfielder Neil Darby show off his versatility by slotting in at wing back. Seneschalstown were now enjoying a spell of dominance and pushed their lead out to three points on eighteen minutes when Shane Clarke pointed from lay. James Conlon then clipped over his second which was a corker of a score at the end of a patient team move which saw the ball played by about nine of the Seneschalstown team after corner back Ronan Conneely had done very well to get out in front of his opponent and claim possession before being fouled.

Meath Hill were finding scores difficult to come by with the Seneschalstown defence meaner than The Grinch at Christmas but could have had a goal on twenty-one minutes as a ball dropped dangerously inside the Seneschalstown square but under severe pressure Shane Corbally did very well to fist the ball clear. Ryan O’Dowd then marked his introduction to the fray with a well taken point after being placed by Gary Conlon who was enjoying a superb outing. The North Meath outfit replied with a point from play through their left corner forward but Eddie Meade hit back when he flashed over after getting on the end of a move involving James Conlon and Shane Clarke after Robert Ruddy rose highest to pluck the ball out of the summer sky.

Referee Patrick Nelis played almost five minutes of stoppage time at the end of the half following a series of breaks in play for injuries and deep into this Meath Hill almost got in for a well-engineered goal only for full back Adam Gargan to put his body on the line to pull off a perfectly executed block. They managed to regather possession and pointed through their left half back.

This brought the scoring for the half to a close and saw Seneschalstown head back to the dressing room into the shade holding a four point lead, 0-08 to 0-04 and while they were playing some excellent football the side from Yellow Furze will have been concerned at picking up injuries to the influential Kevin Casey and Gary Conlon who had to leave the fray at the break in play. In replace of Conlon, Seneschalstown brought on the 2009 Keegan Cup winning captain Ciaran Macken for the second half.

Events took a further turn against Seneschalstown when with the players barely back out of the dressing room Joe Cowley received a black card and had to be replaced by Darragh Keogh. Meath Hill, buoyed by this brought the gap between the teams back to three points when Ian Malone, after intercepting a miskicked Shane Corbally kickout raced into open space before unleashing a shot which Corbally did well to tip over. Ciaran Macken then marked his introduction by rising highest on the edge of the square to fist over a James Conlon forty-five over. Meath Hill then picked off two points in a row through Ryan Owens and Chris Yorke. Yorke’s point coming when Shane Corbally did superbly to initially prevent a goal scoring opportunity when Meath Hill looked certain to raise a green flag.

This brought the game up to the final quarter and it couldn’t have been much more finely poised with only two points separating the sides, Seneschalstown 0-09 Meath Hill 0-07. Ciaran Macken was having a huge influence on proceedings following his introduction and he played a central role in the next point as he held onto possession before releasing the strong running Paul McDonnell who in turn fed the raiding Neil Darby who saw his rasping effort tipped over by the excellent Meath Hill goalkeeper. Ryan O’Dowd then followed up with his second point of the evening, this one from a free to the left of the uprights after Shane Clarke was brought to ground. Paul McDonnell then added his name to the ever growing list of scorers when he got on the end of a move started by a super challenge who stripped his opponent of possession, was continued by a pacy Ryan O’Dowd run before he hand passed outside to McDonnell who curled over.

Smarting from conceding this run of scores Meath Hill hit back to record the next three through Ian Malone, Shane McCabe and Tommy Rooney, all of which came from open play. Obviously looking to stem the tide Seneschalstown turned to Aled Ingman, scorer of two goals in their opening round victory, to settle the ship as he was brought into the action. Minor star Eoin Finnegan then picked off a vital score when after being fouled as he cut in along the end line he clipped over a fourteen metre free.

Chris Yorke hit back with a similar effort but Finnegan then added his third of the hour when after Darragh Keogh, up from centre back on a barnstorming run, was foot tripped. This left Meath Hill requiring a goal to snatch a draw but all they were able to muster was a point from play after a free was dropped in around the house but Seneschalstown’s defence managed to man the barricades and prevent a goal scoring opportunity arise.

Practically as soon as this score went over the bar Patrick Nelis sounded the full time whistle to the great delight of the Seneschalstown contingent as they celebrated a wonderful victory and picked up their first points of this year’s Championship. On a day when they had superb performances all over the field the displays of Robert Ruddy, Ronan Conneely, Mark Fox and Colin Walsh deserve acknowledgement.

Seneschalstown: Shane Corbally, Ronan Conneely, Adam Gargan, Colin Walsh, Kevin Casey, Joe Cowley, Mark Fox, Robert Ruddy, Neil Darby (0-01), Paul McDonnell (0-01), Shane Clarke (0-02), Gary Conlon, Eddie Meade (0-02), James Conlon (0-02), Eoin Finnegan (0-03, 0-03 Frees).

Seneschalstown Substitutions: Ryan O’Dowd (0-02, 0-01 Free) for K. Casey, Ciaran Macken (0-01) for G. Conlon, Darragh Keogh for J. Cowley, Aled Ingman for E. Meade, Robert Darby for P. McDonnell.

Meath Hill: Dominic Yorke, Conor Marry, Ryan Owens, Simon Martin, Ryan Mooney, Damien Turley, Jason Yorke, Keith Ginnitty, Barry Kieran, Shane McCabe, Martin Tully, Ian Malone, Pierce McGrath, Chris Yorke.

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