Sheridan the hero at either end

A League Division 1 Round 11

Rathkenny 1-14 Seneschalstown 1-15

In a game, they couldn’t afford to lose, Seneschalstown just about managed to eke out a victory in their relegation battle against Rathkenny on Friday evening. A match that had everything, brilliant score taking, last gasp defending, a virtuoso performance from Rathkenny’s Caolach Halligan, saw Meath’s Joe Sheridan step up in injury time to pull off a stunning penalty save to ensure Seneschalstown clung on to the narrowest of wins.

Nip and tuck throughout there was never much between the sides in a game which was played with a remarkable intensity. A typical local derby, both sides refused to take a backward step, leading to some interesting clashes over the hour but to their credit it never spilled over into anything serious although Rathkenny did end up with 14 men for the closing stages after Dessie Smith spotted something amiss off the ball.

The concession of a penalty just seconds into injury time looked to have handed Rathkenny the perfect opportunity to steal the victory but Sheridan showed just why Andy McEntee has picked him on the Meath panel as a goalkeeper when he got down smartly to his right and divert the ball out for a ’45 which elder brother Damien aka Benjamin Button somehow managed to pluck from the sky inside the square before it dropped over the crossbar. With that referee Smith sounded the final whistle leaving Seneschalstown going home with a much needed 2 points.

The game had opened with the home side starting brightly as they landed the first 2 points, both from frees before Joe Sheridan, lining out at corner forward opened his account when reacting quickly to a ball dropped in the Rathkenny defence. On 13 minutes Rathkenny picked off their 3rd point of the game only for Sheridan to send over again. Brian Sheridan then opened his account when sending over a free, awarded after Joe was mauled when gathering possession.
The tight nature continued when the side in red edged back in front only for Cathal Finnegan, fresh from completing his Leaving Certificate popped up to arc over a free. Team captain Bryan Clarke sent Seneschalstown into the lead for the 1st time on 20 minutes when pointing up the hill but the lead was a short-lived one as Rathkenny hit back instantly with 2 points.

The hits were coming heavy and often by now, as were the scores and Brian Sheridan popped over a free before Brian Maguire, another fresh from finishing his state examinations showcased his finishing ability as he used his pace to great effect before splitting the uprights. Brian Sheridan then sent over from play before Rathkenny hit Seneschalstown with a sucker punch of a goal when a shot for a point dropped short but ended up being fisted to the back of the net at the clubhouse end of the ground. They then brought the scoring for the half to a close when pointing to leave them in the driving seat at the break of play, Rathkenny 1-07 Seneschalstown 0-08.

The resumption of play for the second half was delayed somewhat when an umpire made his way towards his station at a pace which could generously be described as snail like. When it eventually did get underway Brian Sheridan narrowed the deficit when pointing another free as he punished indiscipline in the home sides defence. Next came a moment of pure brilliance as Joe Sheridan somehow managed to latch onto a ball over the top and to the left of the Rathkenny goals before expertly flicking it over the stranded Rathkenny goalkeeper with the deftest of touches to leave it nestling in the back of the net.

Rathkenny replied with a point but Seneschalstown then struck three in a row courtesy of Bryan Clarke, Cathal Finnegan and a free from Brian Sheridan. This trio of points was quickly cancelled out when Rathkenny went on a mini scoring burst of their own only for Cathal Finnegan to stem to flow when on the three-quarter mark he raised the white flag with real aplomb. Bryan Clarke, taking over the free taking duties as Brian Sheridan limped from the fray sent over a delightful free.

The loss of Sheridan seemed to unsettle the Seneschalstown side and their scores dried up as Rathkenny sensed blood and came on the attack. They drew to within 1 with 10 minutes remaining before Ross Howard stole through the narrowest of gaps to clip over a point and give Seneschalstown a bit of breathing space. A converted free saw the air become a bit thin for the Devenish Nutrition sponsored side before controversy erupted. A point effort from out on the left never managed to come inside the uprights was waved over by the umpires leading to an apoplectic response from many of the Seneschalstown support. Dessie Smith who had a better view than either of the umpires went in to have a word before operating his own personal version of Hawk Eye and correctly disallowing the score.

Even more drama was to unfold in stoppage time when the penalty was awarded but Joe Sheridan showcased just why he might end up between the posts for Meath this year yet when he pulled off the most remarkable of saves. Not even JK Rowling could have scripted an ending quite like this one.

Best for Seneschalstown were Damien Sheridan, Cormac Noonan and Adam Carey.

Seneschalstown: David Gordon, Conor Cowley, John Smith, David Matthews, Niall McCabe, Cormac Noonan, Adam Carey, Niall Groome, Damien Sheridan, Ross Howard (0-01), Brian Sheridan (0-05, 0-04 Frees), Brian Maguire (0-01), Cathal Finnegan (0-03, 0-01 Free), Bryan Clarke (0-03, 0-01 Free), Joe Sheridan (1-02).

Seneschalstown Substitution: Ronan Conneely for B. Sheridan.

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