Late goals key to victory at county champions home

AFL Division 1 Round 8

Navan O’Mahonys 1-11 Seneschalstown 3-09

While the two Madrid rivals, Atletico and Real clashed in the final of the Champions League on Saturday evening, one of Meath footballs longest standing local rivalries was being fought out in Paddy O’ Brien Park on the same evening. Both sides were coming into the game off the back of wins in the previous round of the league, Seneschalstown needing late scores to overcome the challenge of St. Peters Dunboyne, while the home side had a comfortable victory over Intermediate side St. Colmcilles.

Seneschalstown welcomed back Adam Carey and Niall Hickey to the half forward line, both having missed the Dunboyne game, and there were also a number of positional switches.

Navan O’Mahony’s started brightly when they moved into an early two point lead by the 4th minute, and it looked as if Seneschalstown were going to struggle to deal with O’Mahonys fluid movement both on and off the ball. However, like in previous weeks, Bryan Clarke had other ideas. When Seneschalstown won a free close to the half way line, it was quickly played to Adam Carey. Carey then found Clarke with a low ball in front of the dugout and from there it looked like there was nothing on for the diminutive corner forward. Weaving his way in and out from his direct marker and a supporting defender, Clarke then found himself in space very close to the then end line before unleashing an absolute rocket into the roof of Marcus Brennans’ net.

O’Mahonys levelled from the next attack with a fisted effort from wing forward Darragh Maguire in the eighth minute. Then on the 11th minute Seneschalstown started to make headway. Firstly, Brian Sheridan split the posts off his weaker left foot. This score was one in particular for the sextet of Seneschalstown defenders who had forced a turnover. Paul Carey played the ball out of defence to John Smith, who quickly transferred the ball to the youngest of the Sheridan brothers before doing the rest himself. Minutes later Seneschalstown’s lead was doubled when Johnny Gilsenan hoisted the ball over the bar after Adam Carey fisted to him, before Gilsenan set himself to strike. On 17 minutes, Clarke’s earlier goal became the difference as Seneschalstown moved into a three point lead when he converted a free after the material of Johnny Gilsenans jersey was tested off the ball. Indeed, the momentum gained by the side in yellow yielded a four point lead for them after Joe Sheridan excellently fielded an O’Mahonys kick-out before sending brother Damien into space. The midfielder set himself before popping over from 30 metres out.

Having not scored since the eighth minute, the hosts kicked two in as many minutes to halve the deficit. The three point advantage was restored three minutes before the break. Joe Sheridan played a long ball into full forward Niall Groome who did well to win it among a number of defenders. Groome initially tried to conjure up a scoring opportunity, but that was not forthcoming so instead he laid the ball off to Adam Carey who forced the umpire to put up his white flag.

In injury time the hosts answered Carey’s previous effort with a point of their own, leaving the game very finely poised at 1-05 to 0-06 in favour of the visiting side at the interval. O’Mahonys will not have been helped by the fact that they lost two players to injury in that half, most notably Meath’s most recent All-Star recipient Stephen Bray to what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

The second half started in slightly controversial fashion. When O’Mahonys were coming out of defence with the ball, Adam Carey was impeded off the ball, resulting in a black card for the guilty O’Mahonys defender. Bryan Clarke punished this breach of discipline to open up Seneschalstown’s account for the half. Four minutes later, the hosts responded with another Jake Regan free.

On 40 minutes, Seneschalstown were given a massive chance to increase their advantage when menace Bryan Clarke was fouled when about to pull the trigger. Brian Sheridan placed the ball on the spot at the Aldi end of the ground, but to his credit Marcus Brennan dived low to his left to excellently save Sheridan’s effort. Clarke though, converted a free after another foul on wing forward Adam Carey. Clarke and Niall Groome both had goal chances in the following moments, but Brennan in the home goal was equal to both efforts, the first save a particularly impressive one from Clarke.

To add insult to injury from a Seneschalstown point of view, a misjudgement of a high ball in defence allowed Jake Regan to nip in around David Lyons to poke the ball into the net and bring the sides level, but a Clarke free soon had Seneschalstown in front once again. A brace of Rory Maguire points in the 49th and 51st minutes moved the home side ahead for the first time since the early stages of the game and all the momentum was with the side in blue and white.

For the second week in a row, Seneschalstown were required to come from behind to take both points. It would be a test of character of the team as they had faded out of the game in previous 10 minutes. However, nothing has appeared to faze this Seneschalstown team of late, and tonight was another example of the fighting spirit that they have. With seven minutes remaining, Damien Sheridan lobbed a ball into the O’Mahonys square and after the ball broke, a mini ruck ensued. A couple of Seneschalstown forwards were lurking, before Joe Sheridan stuck out a leg to divert the ball into the net to re-establish the lead for Seneschalstown. Another Bryan Clarke free left three points between them after Joe Sheridan had been fouled on the 20 metre line to the right of the posts.

Sheridan was having a massive influence on proceedings late on having moved to the edge of the square and it was his dropping shot that hit the post that set Niall Hickey up for a simple tap into the O’Mahonys net for Seneschalstown’s third goal of the evening. Hickey both started and finished the move as he had won a break in the middle of the pitch before the move had begun. The home side had a spell of pressure in injury when adding two frees to their tally, while an ambitious goal effort went wide of David Lyons post, leaving four points between them at the end of the game.

On a night where Seneschalstown moved into 2nd place in the league table, they were well served by stalwarts Joe Sheridan and Bryan Clarke, as well as young lads John Smith and Adam Carey who stepped up to the plate. Other positives to take from the night was the return to action of Adam Gleeson, as well as Colin Walsh who came on in the 2nd half to make his senior debut.

Seneschalstown will be back out in action on Friday night 3rd June when they travel to Rathkenny to take on their hosts with a place in the semi-final of the Feis Cup at stake.

Seneschalstown: David Lyons, Paul Carey, Cormac Noonan, Sean McCabe, Mark Fox, John Smith, David Matthews, Damien Sheridan (0-01), Joe Sheridan (1-00), Niall Hickey (1-00), Brian Sheridan (0-01), Adam Carey (0-01), Johnny Gilsenan (0-01), Niall Groome, Bryan Clarke (1-05, 0-05fs).

Subs: Adam Gleeson for Gilsenan, Colin Wash for Paul Carey, Stephen Finnegan for Groome, Teean Cummins for Matthews.

By Shane Mulvany

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer