Resilient Rear-Guard Effort Reaps Major Rewards

LMFM Minor Football Championship Division 2 Shield Semi-Final
Seneschalstown 2-10 Simonstown Gaels 2-09

As the clock ticked towards the seventh minute of second half stoppage time, Seneschalstown managed to hold on for a hard fought win over hosts Simonstown Gaels in the semi-final of the LMFM Minor Football Championship Division 2 Shield. Shorn a number of players due to injury, the effort and endeavour of the team has to be commended as legs began to tire with Simonstown searching for a last-minute equaliser to force an extra twenty minutes. Indeed, it could have been curtains for the visitors had Cathal Darby not produced a stunning save to deny the Simonstown centre half forward Davy McKeever as he bore down on goal, managing to stick out a foot and clear the ball to safety.

It took Seneschalstown some time to warm to the task as Simonstown started the game quite well. They opened the scoring in the second minute with a fine point from play. Jack Melia, who would prove to be a constant menace for the Seneschalstown defence throughout, pointed a pair of frees to increase the home side’s early advantage. Cathal Darby was also called into action early when he was quick off his line to smoother a Simonstown goal chance. In the 12th minute Sean O’Connell took aim from distance and was rewarded with another score as Simonstown looked to press home this period of dominance.

Seneschalstown needed to get scores on the board quickly and Robbie Finnegan duly obliged in the 15th minute. After linking up with Owen Mullen, Finnegan went on a solo-run before cutting back on his right and sending the ball between the posts. This settled Seneschalstown as they started to win possession around the middle third, and the defence got to grips with the Simonstown attack. Following a lull just after the first-half water-break, Finnegan knocked over his and Seneschalstown’s second point in the 24th minute after a foul on his U15 teammate Oran Lawlor. This sparked the visitors into life, and by the 26th minute Seneschalstown were level. Owen Mullen put over a fantastic long range point, before Aaron Clarke’s direct run resulted in another free for Finnegan to bring the sides level.

However, Simonstown responded well to this spell of pressure with a point from Corey Cullen and a free from Davy McKeever. In between, Zack Sheridan did extremely well to get back goal-side of his man to prevent a goal chance for the hosts. In the last throes of the half, Simonstown were reduced to 14 men for a short while after receiving a black card. The two point gap is what separated the sides at the interval, Seneschalstown 0-04 Simonstown Gaels 0-06.

Seneschalstown looked to make hay while they had a numerical advantage and set about their business in determined style. Robbie Finnegan put over a free before another U15 teammate Séimí Byrne, a first half substitute, won a ball out in front of his man, swivelled and sent the ball between the uprights to level matters once again. However, just like they did in the first half when pegged back to all square, Simonstown registered two points on the trot through Davy McKeever and Sean O’Connell, the latter a fine effort from a 45. By now the game was swinging back and forth, and Séimí Byrne reduced to gap to the minimum after finding himself in space from a quick free. The game was all square again shortly after with Aaron Clarke choosing the smart option when punching over from a narrow angle.

But just as they had done twice previously, Simonstown refused to let Seneschalstown hit the front. This time though, it was a goal. Jack Melia managed to win a ball out on the sideline before making his way towards goal. The Seneschalstown defence were left outnumbered but the despite their best efforts, the ball took a wicked deflection and rolled in past the helpless Cathal Darby. Seneschalstown needed to wrestle the game back into their control, and played their trump card by introducing Donal Commons from the bench. Commons made an almost instant impact when catching above two Simonstown defenders on the edge of the square, and blasting over the bar. Three minutes later, he was not to be denied. Again fetching a brilliant Conor McDonnell delivery, Commons plucked the ball from the sky and finished to the net to give his side the lead for the first time. Owen Mullen then added his second of the evening to increase the lead before referee Stephen Dawson called for a water-break.

The players were barely back in position when Seneschalstown had the ball in the net again. Tom McDonnell had pushed up on a Simonstown kickout, and intercepted a short one to the corner back. Left one on one with the keeper, McDonnell rolled the ball to the bottom left hand corner to leave Seneschalstown five to the good. However, in keeping with the breathless nature of the second half, Simonstown responded with a goal of their own in the 51st minute. The margin was now back at two points. With Conor McDonnell and Cian Rooney now exerting their dominance at midfield and the defence holding firm, Simonstown could only manage a pointed free in the closing stages. The aforementioned save from Darby kept his side ahead, and as Simonstown pressed for a leveller Conor McDonnell made a crucial interception, coming out with the ball. With it, blew the full-time whistle as Seneschalstown secured a place in the final against either Trim or Walterstown.

Best wishes to the Simonstown player who unfortunately suffered an injury at the end of the game.

Seneschalstown: Cathal Darby, Danny Watters, Zack Sheridan, Darren O’Brien, Tom McDonell (1-0), Oran Lawlor, Dylan Geraghty, Conor McDonnell, Cian Rooney, Aaron Clarke (0-1), Oisin McEvoy, Owen Mullen (0-2), Robbie Finnegan (0-4, 3f), Jack Frayne, Ryan Finnegan
Subs: Séimí Byrne (0-2) for Frayne, Luke Healy for Ryan Finnegan, Donal Commons (1-1) for McEvoy, Joe Norris for Clarke, McEvoy for Tom McDonnell

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