So What Was 2021 for Seneschalstown GFC?

Seneschalstown 2021: A Year Like No Other

2021 was a year like no other. Following on from the nightmare scenario of 2020 where club activity was severely curtailed, this year kicked off in similar fashion with the country back in full lockdown from early January. As the year draws to a close, the club still had two teams in action on the last weekend before Christmas, one of which will have to continue their current season into 2022. So from a famine to a feast and everything in between, let’s take a look back at what 2021 was for everyone involved in Seneschalstown GFC.

January

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February
*Checks notes* Selects ‘January’ – Right Click – ‘Copy’ – ‘Select’ – Right Click – ‘Paste’. Let’s move on.

March
Ah would ya look! Something is finally happening. With nothing else going on, Declan Byrne came up with the idea of getting our juvenile teams moving for March. In conjunction with our Senior teams, each underage team was assigned two of our Senior players from either the Men’s or Ladies team who came up with a different skill challenge each week. No doubt the players skills improved over the course of the month, with entries submitted via team WhatsApp groups and winners picked at the end of each week. At the end of the month, each winner received a prize from their coaches. Whilst we were still away from the pitches, it was great to have some sort of football and activities going on in our club.

April
By this stage we knew that our juvenile teams would be back training on the pitches on April 26th. Before that the club launched what would prove to be the very popular US Masters Tournament fundraiser, which was Cathriona Reilly claimed the Green Jacket with a score of -18, followed by Peter Farrell on -15, and yours truly came in third spot on -13 despite the best efforts of Hideki Matsuyama to cost me that €100. Anyway, enough about me. The juveniles returned to training at the end of April and the Gods were shining down as we got a very nice evening for our 2021 restart with all teams taking to the pitch over the course of that week. Our Minor boys were even presented with a new set of jerseys before they began training, now only if there were some games to wear them in….

May
The ‘Mac Track’ was starting to take shape around our grounds, and along with the work of some other committed volunteers it was fully operational shortly afterwards. Our juvenile teams continued to train with our regular Saturday morning slot returning before our adult teams could final return to the pitch from May 10th. On the Senior Inter-County front Cathal Hickey continued to perform well during the Allianz National Football League Division 2 campaign for Meath, with wins over Westmeath and Down booking a promotion play-off spot. Cathal’s performance against Down even merited a spot on the GAA’s Official Team of the Week

On the Ladies side of things, Stacey Grimes and Monaghan twins Aoibhe and Caragh got their promotion push from Division 2 off to a disappointing start losing to Kerry (‘What??’ I hear you ask), but bounced back to beat Wexford in Round 2 starting a journey which wouldn’t end for a while…..

June
Now the real stuff was starting. Would you believe we actually had club matches, and loads of them!! The Senior Men played their 1st competitive match on June 9th on a gorgeous evening in Enfield against Na Fianna, under the stewardship of Anthony Malone. Some lads managed to get lost on the way down, and that perhaps explains the sluggish start as Na Fianna won out by two points despite a late charge from our lads. It was similar fate for our Senior Ladies, but in much more dramatic fashion when they conceded a late goal to lose out to Simonstown Gaels 3-08 to 2-09 in the first round of the League. The men bounced back in Round 2 of the Feis Cup to beat Wolfe Tones 2-08 to 0-13, Cathal Finnegan coming up trumps with the crucial goal. However, if goal-line technology was a thing in GAA, the points may have went to Kilberry. Round 3 for the men represented a mild surprise when they went to then Senior Champions Ratoath and a four goal first half salvo was key as we held on to win 4-8 to 0-15, despite playing for large spells with 14 men. The Ladies continued their relatively strong start to the League, unmercifully hammering St. Michael’s 3-16 to 0-04 in Round 2. For the Men, the month ended against Simonstown Gaels. A blistering opening quarter from the Navan men where they posted 1-06 on the bounce, abstained them against a mini Seneschalstown coming winning 1-19 to 2-08. The Ladies also ended the month in defeat, somewhat controversially losing to Oldcastle by three points on the last Monday of the month.

The Junior Ladies also began their League campaign, drawing with Wolfe Tones 3-09 apiece before losing out to Clonard.

For some of our juvenile teams, the Minor boys were finding the going tough in Division 1 of the League, our under 15’s started their Division 1 League strongly. The Under 16 girls even went on a goal scoring spree, scoring 11 goals in one of their matches!

Meath Ladies earned themselves a shot at promotion to Division 1 of the Lidl National League when beating Cavan 0-13 to 0-9 in the semi-final at Kingspan Breffni. Kerry awaited them in the final at GAA Headquarters and the Girls in Green (but wearing white on this occasion) stunned the Munster side with a dominant display to win 2-16 to 1-09 and secure top tier League football for 2022.

Meath’s hopes of promotion from Division 2 of the Allianz Football League ground to a halt after Kildare beat them 1-13 to 0-13 in Newbridge.

The month ended on a supreme high for our own John McCarthy (sorry Walterstown), Donal Commons, Cathal Darby and Conor McDonnell as Meath claimed the delayed 2020 Leinster MFC title, beating Offaly by a point in Mullingar.

July
The month of July saw the start of the Premier Football Championships for Junior Men’s teams and the Division 1 side got off to the perfect start, aided by two goals from Joe Sheridan to beat Gaeil Colmcille 3-10 to 0-16. Our Division 4 side started with a four point defeat to Clann na nGael in Athboy.

That same weekend, Cathal Hickey nabbed 1-02 from right half back as Meath opened their Leinster SFC with a 22 point thumping of Longford, 4-22 to 0-12, earning himself a Team of the Week slot for a second time, and also a Player of the Week nomination.

The Senior Men had three remaining games in the group stages of the Feis Cup, and had mixed fortunes. A trip to the east coast to play St. Colmcille’s on a sunny Wednesday evening proved fruitful, the lads recording a 1-14 to 1-12 success. They were brought crashing down to Earth the following week, Skryne coming to Fr. Tully Park and winning rather comfortably in the end, not for the first time in 2021 either. That defeat, coupled with results elsewhere ruled us out of contention for a semi-final spot before the last round visit of 2020 Intermediate Champions Ballinabrackey to Fr. Tully Park. A strong final quarter helped keep the South county side at bay, and despite playing with 14 men for the majority of the second half, a tally of 4-08 was enough to give us a victory by seven points. A third place finish in Group B meant we didn’t qualify for the semi-finals but it was a positive campaign nonetheless.

July wasn’t as busy for the Senior Ladies, with only 2 games to be played owing to a walkover received from Donaghmore/Ashbourne. Missing many players for various reasons, they managed to secure a credible draw away to Royal Gaels, 2-11 apiece. The final league game at home to Dunboyne proved to be a great springboard for the rest of the year for Derek Byrne’s side, with the team scoring 5 goals in the process of a 5-14 to 0-14 win and book a semi-final spot away to Oldcastle.

The Premier Championships continued for the Junior Men’s teams and both had success in Round 2, the Division 1 side hammered Skryne while the Division 4 side ended up on the right side of a back and forth game against Syddan on a gloriously warm evening in Fr. Tully Park. Round 3 saw mixed success, a depleted Division 1 side lost away to Trim and the Division 4 side picked up an excellent win away from home against St.Ultan’s who had numerous players in action that night who usually line out for their first team, winning 2-13 to 2-10.

The Junior Ladies picked up a fine win away to Donaghmore/Ashbourne, 1-11 to 1-04 before unfortunately losing out to Trim and Rathkenny/Slane, narrowly missing out on progression to the last four. However, this is a very young team who have gained priceless experience of playing adult football which will benefit them as they get older.

On the juvenile front, the Minor Boys were unfortunate in some of their Division 1 League games to not pick up more points, managing a draw with Skryne and an excellent performance away to St. Colmcille’s being the highlights of the month for them. The St. Colmcille’s game was actually a brilliant game of football where we fought back from 8 points down early on to lead until late in the game where we unfortunately lost out on the home straight.

The Under 15 Boys continued their trail blazing form, their win against Donaghmore/Ashbourne spoke volumes about the character of the team. Trailing 3-07 to 0-5 at half time, the lads ripped up the script in the second half keeping the hosts scoreless and launching a miraculous comeback to win 2-12 to 3-07. A local derby victory over Walterstown followed, however a defeat to St. Colmcille’s wasn’t going to halter their momentum moving into August.

The Under 16 girls won 2 out of their 3 games in the month to earn a place in the semi-finals of their Championship, beating St. Michael’s and Clann na nGael

The county scene was all systems go for the month of July. John McCarthy (of Walterstown on this occasion) and his Meath Minors lost to Derry in the All-Ireland Semi-Final in Newry, where Donie Commons featured off the bench late on. Despite the defeat, John and co. can look back on a successful year for his team, or two in this case!. Winning the Leinster title is certainly no mean feat.

The road came to an end for Andy McEntee, Cathal Hickey and the Meath Seniors in Croke Park on July 18th. A stunning second quarter performance from Dublin left Meath with a proverbial mountain to climb and despite a second half display which bordered on the best 35 minutes of McEntee’s tenure, Meath lost out by six points, having reduced an 11 point deficit to three with only minutes remaining.

Meath also kickstarted the LGFA TG4 Senior Championship with a defeat, but much like the men, the mood music would have been extremely positive after an extremely narrow and unfortunate defeat to Cork in Birr. Two weeks later, Portlaoise was the venue for their Round 2 game against Tipperary, who had beaten Meath in the 2019 All-Ireland Intermediate decider. This time however, the Royals blew away the Munster girls with a 1-18 to 0-07 victory in front of the TG4 cameras, booking a place in the last eight in their first Senior campaign since 2016. Things were certainly going from strength for Stacey, Aoibhe, Caragh and the rest of Eamon Murray’s side. The draw for the quarter finals pitted them against Armagh.

August
As the summer months officially finished, the serious business on the pitch hadn’t even started yet.

The Bank Holiday weekend marked a significant milestone for Meath, marking their first campaign back in the Senior ranks with a dominant win over favourites Armagh in the TG4 Senior Championship Quarter Final in Clones. Stacey Grimes once again made a big impact with 0-03 as Meath won 3-15 to 1-14, leaving them in the semi-final against Cork. Originally fixed for Tuam (somebody was obviously unsure of how to use Google Maps!), the game eventually took place in Croke Park. With less than three minutes left on the clock, Meath trailed by seven points. A penalty goal from Stacey was quickly followed up by another major from Emma Duggan as Meath miraculously forced extra time . From there, Meath took over to amazingly book an All-Ireland Final date with Dublin in early September. The only downside on the day was the fact our Senior Mens opening Championship match directly clashed with the game in Croke Park, meaning many viewers and supporters would have missed out on seeing both games.

That segues nicely onto our Senior Men, for whom the month wasn’t overly nice. Pitted in Group D of the SFC, their opening round tie with Summerhill promised lots early on, only to be beaten in the end by 3 points. Goals from Cathal Finnegan and Collie Carr had us seven ahead, but unfortunately Summerhill gradually clawed their way back to eventually take the two points. The less said about our second round encounter against St. Peter’s, Dunboyne the better, an ultimate horror show as the eventual county finalists won by a big margin.

There was no luck either for the Senior Ladies in the League Semi-Final as the concession of four goals, coupled with a number of absentees proved too big a hurdle to overcome as the North Meath side progressed to the final.

The Premier Championship sides also continued their mixed bag of form, the Division 1 side were extremely unfortunate to lose narrowly against Dunshaughlin and Wolfe Tones with depleted squads on both occasions. The Division 4 team kept winning, comfortably seeing off Ballivor and St. Michael’s, edging them closer to qualificiation.

The Meath Minors of 2021 had an extremely successful month, beating Dublin to win Leinster and then completing the job in Croke Park, winning the county’s 4th All-Ireland MFC overcoming Tyrone by a solitary point.

The Meath Minors also won the LGFA Leinster MFC, with Tiana Kyle and Zoe Kirwan representing the club as Kildare were beaten in the final.

The underage section had a relatively quiet month, but the U15 Boys qualified for the Division 1 League Final by beating Donaghmore/Ashbourne in the semi-final by four points.

The club also ran a very successful Club Camp for children of Primary School age and it proved very popular, the visits of Cathal Hickey, Stacey Grimes and Niamh O’Sullivan (Royal Gaels) being a particular highlight for the children.

Feidhlim Seepersad, Evan Harten & Cara Farrell all competed at the Meath Community Games Finals. Feidhlim came 1st and Evan came 2nd in the boys 60m and Cara came 3rd in the girls. All 3 were members of the Seneschalstown U8s football team. Feidhlim & Evan represented Meath at the Regional finals in Leixlip on the 11th of September.

September
The sports story of the year had a fitting end, when after all was said and done on September 5th in Croke Park, Meath won their first ever TG4 Senior Football Championship less than 12 months after they won the Intermediate Championship. The scenes at the end in Croke Park were unmatched at any other sporting event in the country this year, as Meath stopped Dublin’s 5 in a row bid, winning 1-11 to 0-12. Stacey Grimes notched 0-03 for herself on the day, while Aoibhe and Caragh Monaghan were part of the panel on the ground-breaking day in Dublin 3.

The county side had two weeks to celebrate before the Kepak Senior Football Championship started, where we were drawn to face Boardsmill, Simonstown Gaels and Royal Gaels in our group. First up was a trip to Boardsmill where Louise Coyle knabbed the only goal as we came away with a comfortable 1-15 to 0-09 victory. The following Sunday, Simonstown Gaels made their way to Fr. Tully Park and after a game that swung both ways for long spells, Stacey Grimes stepped up to kick a 67th minute equaliser to earn a point for the hosts, 0-09 each.

The men had a quieter month, with only their final Group D to play in the SFC, but unfortunately for them results continued on previous form as Skryne won comfortably in Stamullen, leaving us bottom of the group and heading for the relegation play-offs.

The Premier Division 1 team were unfortunately beaten by a strong Donaghmore/Ashbourne in their last game, which meant they also faced a battle for survival.

The Division 4 side were very much going in the opposite direction and victory away to Oldcastle left nothing at stake in the final group match at home to Blackhall Gaels, who won by six points. However, the team still had a home semi-final to look forward to.

The Minor Football Championship commenced for the lads, and despite being in Division 2A a combination of injuries, bad luck and indiscipline ultimately cost them, losing all 3 games which on paper looked winnable at the outset.

The Under 16 Girls unfortunately lost their final to Oldcastle in Dunganny, but did superbly well to get to the final.

The Under 15 Boys took on St. Colmcille’s in the Under 15 Division 1 League Final and despite leading at the second half water break, the East Meath side conjured up some late goals to take the title on the night after a superb game of football.

The Under 12 Girls went and represented Meath in the Leinster Community Games in Carlow after winning the Meath section, and managed to put on a brilliant display.

Feidhlim Seepersad finished 3rd in the Community Games National Finals of the 60m sprint, winning a bronze medal. A superb achievement!

October
On the 1st of October, our Under 6’s played their first ever game for Seneschalstown against Skryne in Fr. Tully Park.

The weekending October 10th, proved to be a particularly successful one for the club, with three of the four adult teams in action, coming out on top in key matches. The Premier Division 1 side were first up, but unfortunately were the ones to go down as Donaghmore/Ashbourne won the Relegation semi-final.

The Senior Men got things back on track on the Friday, overcoming Dunshaughlin in the SFC Relegation Quarter-Final 1-11 to 1-09 in Skryne. An early Cathal Finnegan goal, and a flurry of late points secured Senior status for what will be a 54th consecutive year. The game also marked the retirements of both Davy Lyons and Bryan Clarke, long term servants for the club who won Keegan Cup medals in 2007 and 2009.

On the Saturday of the same weekend, the Premier Division 4 team qualified for the Championship final for the second year in a row, gaining revenge on Clann na nGael winning 2-11 to 0-07, the goals coming from Tommy Ledwidge and James Conlon in the second half.

On the Sunday morning, the Senior Ladies made the trip to Dunshaughlin knowing a win was a must to qualify for the semi-finals. Orla Finnegan this time proved to be the match winner with 1-03 of her side’s 1-08 on the day. Despite a late surge from the home side, the visitors held firm to win the game and top the group ahead of their opponents that day.

The Ladies SFC Semi-Final took place two weeks later in Dunganny and despite a poor start where we found ourselves five down at the break, a tally of 2-13 in the second half lead us to a win by that same margin – 3-18 to 3-13 in one of the games of the year. Mena Sheridan certainly made a big impact with 1-03 from midfield, and Anna Wogan also contributed massively with 1-02.

Adult football for the month wrapped up on Halloween morning, the Premier Division 4 side going one better than 13 months previous by claiming Championship glory. Like the semi-final, Ian Maguire’s men overturned the round robin result against Blackhall Gaels to win 1-13 to 0-09. James Conlon’s first minute goal laid a solid foundation, and they were never headed thereafter. Damien Sheridan rolled back the years giving a performance akin to those in the SFC winning campaigns in midfield, while joint captain Ross Mullen ended with 0-05 to his name.

As Autumn ticked into Winter most of our underage teams were finished their matches, however our U15 Boys and U13 Girls were still going strong, and had plenty of games still to play.

November
The big occasion in the month was certainly the Kepak SFC Final which was to be staged in Páirc Táilteann as a double header with the Men’s SFC Final - this has to become a common occurrence. Dunboyne stood in our way of claiming a first title since 2014, and despite a really promising first half where we led for large spells, Dunboyne took over after the break playing with the wind and won well in the end. However, the girls didn’t lie down and kept going right to the very end and certainly did themselves and the club proud on the day. Orla Finnegan won a penalty for Stacey Grimes to convert for our only goal of the day. Let’s hope this is the inspiration for another successful generation of Ladies Football in the club.

The team's final training session beforehand certainly offered lots of promise as all of our underage girls team attended to have fun with our Senior Ladies with many different games and challenges

The race against survival also came to an end for the men’s Premier Division 1 team, as Skryne proved too strong in the final relegation match.

The Minor girls kicked off their Division 1/2 Championship campaign in the middle of November, hammering St. Pat’s and then beating Walterstown.

The Under 15 Boys were pitted against a physically strong Dunboyne in the Division 1 Championship semi-final at their Rooske Road pitch, and despite a prominent start Dunboyne eventually won out mainly thanks to a late goal to win by two points. This brought the curtain down on what can be considered an excellent year for the team.
The Under 13 Girls capped off a strong end to the year, beating Longwood to win the Under 13 B League Final in the final at Dunganny.

December
Ticking into the final month of the year, the club had still teams in action.

The Under 20’s played their entire Under 20 campaign in a two week period, beating Walterstown comfortably to set up a home semi-final against Dunboyne. Two second half goals from Donie Commons and Owen Mullen propelled the Declan Byrne managed outfit through to the final against Senior Champions Wolfe Tones on the final Friday before Christmas. Three goals proved to be the downfall for the Seneschalstown youngsters, despite a mini revival the Tones were able to add the U20 A title to their Keegan Cup.

The one team still going and who continue their 2021 season into 2022 are the Minor Girls who have defeated Navan O’Mahony’s and St. Colmcille’s to leave themselves in a good position going into the knockout stages of the LGFA Minor Championship Division 1/2 going into the New Year.

On December 11th, Róisin Commons made a special appearance for the Underdogs against Meath, shown on TG4 in the game played in Ashbourne. Róisin came on during the second half for the Underdogs, while Kiah Geraghty also made her Meath Senior debut in that game off the back of a very successful club campaign, scoring the final point of the game for the All-Ireland Champions.

As the year draws to a close, it has certainly been one with ups, downs, success and heartbreak. It wouldn’t be possible with huge efforts of all players, coaches, parents and many other volunteers associated with our fantastic club. We all look forward to see what 2022 has to bring, despite the bleak Covid outlook at the time of writing. Our 2022 AGM’s will be held in the upcoming weeks, the county seasons will be back up and running for our Men and Women shortly and we will be back playing club matches sooner rather than later.

From all in Seneschalstown GFC, we would like to wish you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year and, that in twelve month’s time we will have even more to celebrate.

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