No 'Dancing in the Dark' for 'town

LMFM Meath Minor League Division 3 Final

Oldcastle 3-14 Seneschalstown 2-10 (AET)

The phrase ‘a game of two halves’ is one of the most overused in sport but rarely is a sporting event ever described as a ‘match of two games’, yet this is what the LMFM Minor League Division 3 Final turned out to be on Wednesday evening. The game played out in normal time was a gripping affair with both sides having their spells on top while extra time saw Oldcastle turn on the style to win out by seven points. Whether or not the game should have ever gone to extra time is something that will be debated for quite a while as they found their equalising point from a hugely controversial free awarded in the seventh minute of injury time which was then brought closer to goal, awarding Jason Scully an easy opportunity to send the match to extra time.

Both the amount of injury time and the free were a source of much consternation but good teams make the most of any fortune they receive and Oldcastle proved in the additional twenty minutes that they are an excellent team. One issue which both sides faced in the extra time was the rapidly diminishing visibility and it further shows up the need for the development work to be carried out in Páirc Tailteann so the county grounds can get the floodlights back up, ensuring games can be played out in their optimum conditions.

Having lost out to the North Meath side by nineteen points in the opening round of the League back in February, Seneschalstown came into the Final with the underdog tag well and truly attached but when the game threw in at four minutes past eight they looked like a dog which had plenty of bite about them and inside the first three minutes they had mounted a series of attacks which while unrewarded on the scoreboard laid down a marker that they were going to provide Oldcastle with a much tougher opposition than in Round 1.

Meath sharpshooter Jason Scully though it was who was first to register when after an Alan Mulvany point effort was just held up on the breeze, Oldcastle counter attacked towards the Hospital goals and when their full forward got a scoring opportunity he made no mistake as he split the posts. Kyle Kavanagh then added a second before Ronan Taggart opened his account when fisting over a shot which dropped in the square.

Seneschalstown were looking like they needed a score soon and they were to receive a great boost when a minute later Cathal Finnegan raised a green flag. Centre back Brian Maguire read a breaking ball in midfield to perfection and worked the ball left where centre forward Dylan Keating was lurking. Keating sent a searching ball downfield where Cathal Finnegan latched onto it and taking on his marker the corner forward stole in towards the goal and struck a great goal. An eight minute spell without a score followed but Seneschalstown brought this to a close when after getting clipped on the head, Eoin Finnegan sent over the resultant free.

Jason Scully equalised with a pointed free before driving over a well taken effort wind assisted from play. Oldcastle then pushed two clear when Kyle Kavanagh, operating at corner forward split the posts after getting on the end of a quick free. Full forward Dylan Doyle sensed that Seneschalstown could do with a fillip and when he got possession twenty metres out he attempted an ambitious goal effort only to see it blocked out for a forty-five which drifted wide. U-16 player Sean Carey, was enjoying a bright opening to the game and he was to have a vital hand in Seneschalstown’s next score when after great work in defence he played the ball to the deep lying Alan Mulvany who carried downfield at pace before releasing towards Eoin Finnegan who drew the foul before pointing the resultant free. Younger brother Cathal then pointed a great right footed effort before Eoin sent over another free after being yet again fouled, this time after a brilliant interception in defence by Daire Finnegan and a driven ball in from David Fox, Finnegan now operating at full back and Fox released out to midfield.

Wing forward Marc Horrigan followed up with a brilliant point which squeezed inside the left upright before on thirty minutes Dylan Keating scored a sumptuous goal when he arrowed his shot high into the corner of the net after good play from Fox. Oldcastle were still looking dangerous with overlapping runs in behind the Seneschalstown half back line and looked to hit back with a goal on the stroke of half time but Scully was hunted down by a posse of defenders who managed to avert the danger.

This left Seneschalstown in a solid position of leading by 2-05 to 0-06 at the interval.

This lead was soon down to just two points when with fifteen seconds on the clock their no. 9 Ronan Taggart found himself in on goal and he made no mistake as he fired past Keith Waters. Instantly Cathal Finnegan replied with a point when after a long ball down along the terrace side of the field from Alan Mulvany, he picked up the ball in the hospital corner before cutting infield and hoisting his shot over the bar. Oldcastle were motoring a bit better now and could have had a second goal on thirty-seven minutes only for Waters and Daire Finnegan to scramble the ball to safety.

The goal threat continued however and six minutes later they landed their second when Keith Connell fisted home. Eoin Finnegan replied with another free after being yet again fouled after clever play from Dylan Keating out on the right when he won a 20:80 ball. The hard working Alan Mulvany then struck a point of real quality when he sliced across the ball to send it sailing between the uprights at the three quarter stage. Stephen Lawless then sent over for Oldcastle in what was an absorbing contest.

The Mulvany – Keating axis which has been a real boon at U-16 level then came to the fore when Alan drove out of defence before picking out his Meath U-16 colleague and Keating skipped inside before sending over a sublime point. This left Seneschalstown two points to the good with four minutes of the regulation hour remaining. In the fourth minute of additional time Jason Scully reduced the margin to one when fisting over before the referee somehow awarded his side an opportunity to equalise three minutes later.

This decision seemed to knock the stuffing out of Seneschalstown and in extra time they looked like a horse which having won a race was then told he must do another circuit of the course. Having left everything on the field in normal time, plus the additional seven minutes, their petrol light was now on and they had little left in the tank while Oldcastle, having benefited from a dollop of good fortune with so much extra time and that free looked like they had a full tank of fuel and they pulled away to win by eight with Seneschalstown’s sole score coming when David Fox saw his goal effort go narrowly over.

On a night when they traipsed off the field of play in near total darkness, this Seneschalstown side served up a display in normal time which illuminated the old venue and looked incomparable to the side which started off in February being beaten by nineteen points. Their rate of progression is remarkable and doubtless they will work hard to continue it and will be a force to be reckoned with come the Championship. In the week that Bruce Springsteen will play Croke Park, it’s safe to believe that the ‘Glory Days’ are just around the corner for this side.

Seneschalstown: Keith Waters, Richard McKeown, David Fox (0-01), Louis Healy, Sean Carey, Brian Maguire, Shane McGeer, Robert Wogan, Daire Finnegan, Alan Mulvany (0-01), Dylan Keating (1-01), Marc Horrigan (0-01), Eoin Finnegan (0-04, 0-04 Frees), Dylan Doyle, Cathal Finnegan (1-02).

Seneschalstown Substitutions: Joseph Moore for D. Fox, Sean Commons for D. Doyle. (ET) Dylan Doyle for M. Horrigan, David Fox for S. Commons, Eoin Traynor for L. Healy, Eoin O’Reilly for R. McKeown. Simon Rooney for S. Carey.

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