Late Scores Fend Off Ratoath Rally

Feis Cup Round 3

Seneschalstown 4-11 Ratoath 0-18

When Bryan Clarke netted to put the visitors to Seán Eiffe Park 12 points to the good five minutes before the half-time break, Seneschalstown supporters could have been forgiven for expecting to return back down the road with the two match points easily in the bag. Leading at that point by 4-6 to 0-6 at the home of the two in a row Meath SFC champions, the most pleasing aspect of this performance from a Seneschalstown point of view was how they managed to steady themselves in the final quarter, playing with 14 men and slowing down the inevitable Ratoath comeback to see out a five point victory.

Heading to Ratoath shorn of a number of players from last week’s victory over Wolfe Tones, including the two Niall’s, McCabe and Hickey, Seneschalstown were looking for another positive performance, and to pick up another victory in the modified Feis Cup competition.

After the earlier rain dried off, the game was played at a fast pace throughout, with Seneschalstown creating plenty of goal-scoring chances in the early exchanges. Bryan Clarke was unlucky to fire just wide in the opening minute, before Cathal Finnegan rattled the butt of the post shortly afterwards. When Ratoath fumbled the ball in defence while trying to clear, Finnegan picked up the loose ball to round the goalkeeper and slot into the net. Ratoath were trying to get themselves on the scoreboard early on, and eventually did so with a point from play in the sixth minute. The visitors were really settling to the task in the first quarter and put up the next three points in as many minutes. Alan Mulvany and Niall Lyons both hoisted similar curling efforts over the bar after flowing moves, before Ryan O’Dowd charged through the Ratoath defence to pop over another point. The hosts answered with two quick points of their own, but Seneschalstown hit another trio of points in response.

Firstly, Johnny Gilsenan got on the end of a good move to split the posts, then Bryan Clarke converted a close range free after referee Richard Morris spotted a Ratoath corner back pulling the jersey of Cathal Finnegan. Seneschalstown’s last point of this spell also came from a dead ball, this time Finnegan converting after Alan Mulvany was taken out by a combination of three Ratoath defenders. Before the first water break was called, Ratoath managed to get themselves another score, leaving five points between the teams.

In the second quarter, the reigning Keegan Cup champions got more scores than their visitors but crucially for Seneschalstown, they were able to capitalise on three goal chances presented to them and open up the aforementioned 12 point gap. In the 21st minute, Bryan Clarke won a long ball before turning his marker and squaring across the goal for Cathal Finnegan to palm the ball over the keeper and into the net. Two minutes later, Seneschalstown were in again for another major. Alan Mulvany played a pass into Cathal Finnegan who flicked onto the onrushing Clarke. Just like the previous move, Clarke provided the assist – this time for Niall Lyons who did well to finish to the net under severe pressure from the goalkeeper and defender. Seneschalstown had goal number four soon after, although Ratoath replied with two points beforehand. For that fourth goal, Seneschalstown again had joy coming through the middle of the Ratoath defence. Alan Mulvany soloed directly at the defence before laying off to Dylan Keating, who in turn found Clarke in space. Having being provider for two goals already, Clarke this time buried his own opportunity in the back of the net and Seneschalstown had what looked like an unassailable lead. Ratoath kept the scoreboard ticking over at the other end and did finish the half with two points, leaving Seneschalstown up at interval on a scoreline of 4-06 to 0-08.

Ratoath, as all good champions would, came flying out of the blocks in the second half and quickly went about cutting the Seneschalstown deficit to a more manageable margin. The first four points of the half went the way of Ratoath before Seán Commons stemmed the flow with Seneschalstown’s opening point of the half, but the tide was very much against the Yellow Furze men at this stage. Seneschalstown’s cause had not been helped when reduced to 14 men following an incident when the play was stopped. The continuous flow towards Davy Lyons goal continued with Ratoath adding point after point to eat into the lead even further. Cruciually for Seneschalstown however, Ratoath didn’t create any clear goal scoring opportunities, which is a credit to the Seneschalstown rear guard effort despite the amount of the possession the home side enjoyed in this period.

Just as the referee was about to blow for the water break, Cathal Finnegan conjured up a big score for Seneschalstown. Winning the ball out in the left corner, Finnegan took on a number of defenders before slotting over off his right boot from in front of the goals. With their lead still standing at five points by the water break, Anthony Malone’s charges went about their business in a professional manner in the last quarter. Seneschalstown managed to limit the chances Ratoath had, while also using their own possession well, adding to their account. The first point after the water break went the way of Seneschalstown, Clarke converting a free following a foul to the left of the posts on Niall Lyons. Cathal Finnegan kicked another from play for the eventual winners, before late on Ryan O’Dowd sealed the win with the insurance point deep in injury time. There were plenty of Seneschalstown bodies on the ground in the dying embers of the game, their defensive efforts ensuring Ratoath never got within less than four points during the second half and managed to record win number two in this competition. Next week, the challenges keep coming when unbeaten Simonstown Gaels make the short trip out to Fr. Tully Park. For Seneschalstown, the task will be to make it three victories in a row.

Seneschalstown: Davy Lyons, Mark Fox, John Smith, Woodley Nicholson, Ryan O’Dowd (0-02), Collie Carr, Ronan Conneely, Seán Commons (0-01), Pádraig Finegan, Johnny Gilsenan (0-01), Niall Lyons (1-01), Dylan Keating, Cathal Finnegan (2-03, 0-01f), Alan Mulvany (0-01), Bryan Clarke (1-02, 0-02f).

Subs Used: James Meade, Joey Moore, Adam Carey, Robert Wogan

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