Status Maintained as Lyons and Clarke Bow Out

Seneschalstown 1-11 Dunshaughlin 1-09

When Cormac Reilly sounded his whistle for the final time in Skryne on Friday evening, the sense of relief was palpable among the Seneschalstown players who timed their run to perfection to ensure the club will be playing Senior Championship football for a 54th consecutive year in 2022. Outscoring Dunshaughlin by five points to no score in the closing nineteen minutes plus added time, Seneschalstown finished the stronger of the two sides to win out by two points. The feat was made all the more impressive having played the vast majority of those closing stages with only 14 men.

It followed a theme of misfortune for Seneschalstown, with Cathal Hickey unable to start due to injury before regular netminder and captain David Lyons was forced off injured after 5 minutes. Ronan Conneely came in for Hickey, while David Gordon replaced Lyons and would go onto have a big say in the final outcome of proceedings.

The match started on a similar pattern with Dunshaughlin quicker out of the blocks, their captain Ben Duggan clipping over a nice point inside two minutes and Ronan Geraghty doubling their advantage from close range eight minutes in.

Some early Seneschalstown attacks broke down early on for various reasons, but Brian Sheridan was on hand to open their account with a ninth minute free after Alan Mulvany was fouled. Things were about to get a lot better for the Furze men two minutes later as Cathal Finnegan found the net.

When Seneschalstown turned over a ball in defence, Adam Carey played the ball down the wing to Finnegan before working the ball to Dylan Keating. Keating’s weighted inside pass was perfect to Brian Sheridan who set up Finnegan who had continued his run. The odds were very much in his favour as he found the bottom left hand corner of David Jennings’s net.

David Gordon kept his side in front immediately afterwards with a fine save low to his right, however Mathew Costello was successful with the resultant 45’ to reduce Seneschalstown’s lead before the water break. Dunshaughlin did pull themselves level when Tadhg O’Dúshláine curled over from 30 metres out. Seneschalstown were one behind from the next attack as Dunshaughlin were starting to find their range up front more consistently but Brian Sheridan was able to settle Seneschalstown once again when he added another free following a nudge on Cathal Finnegan.

The eventual winners were rocked in the 23rd minute when Dunshaughlin were awarded a penalty, where Luke Mitchell gave Gordon no chance in goal. Finnegan was certainly doing his utmost to keep his side in touch and he put over a fine point from the edge of the ‘D’ after winning the ball in a good position from a Sheridan pass. Both sides cancelled each other out for the remainder of the half as the South Meath side were three to the good at the break.

Seneschalstown came out at the start of the second half looking to quickly reduce the arrears and after a move involving Mulvany and Dylan Keating, corner back Woodley Nicholson went on a rampaging run forward and got on the end of Keating’s assist to punt over for a rare point for himself. Off the back of this timely boost, Cathal Finnegan added another a free after Alan Mulvany was dragged back 20 metres out. Seneschalstown, however, struggled for the next 10 minutes as Dunshaughlin reeled off three points in a row as they looked set to ensure survival, the feeling only added to when Seneschalstown were temporarily reduced to 14 following a black card.

Four points down just shy of the second water break, Cathal Finnegan won a free on his own 45’. Following some quick thinking he played a one-two with Simon Rooney, and carried the ball almost 40 metres before launching a sky scraper between the Dunshaughlin posts and over the bar, a hugely uplifting score. Finnegan was fouled for Seneschalstown’s next score after latching onto a loose ball in the Dunshaughlin defence, Sheridan did the rest as two points separated the sides when they went off for water.

Whatever was said in the Seneschalstown huddle worked wonders for them, as they clawed themselves back into the game, while keeping their opposition scoreless with some tireless defending for the remainder. However, had it not been for another fine save from Gordon in the Seneschalstown goal, the hill they needed to climb would have resembled a mountain as they entered the closing stages. Following his second half introduction, Cathal Hickey got himself forward to kick a point, Brian Maguire doing well to spot him after winning a breaking ball. With only the minimum between them now, Seneschalstown were beginning to sense the opportunity was there for them to capitalise on this growing momentum. With five minutes of normal time remaining, Finnegan had positioned himself back in the full-forward line, and it was he who engineered the next two points for himself, both underneath the viewing balcony at the ground. Firstly, he was taken out by a defender when trying to get on the end of a ball over the top, he responded by curling the ball between the uprights. The second free was a lot simpler, tapping over after another foul on himself. Seneschalstown looked set to kick on, but were extremely harshly reduced to 14 men for an incident which on viewing afterwards looked completely innocuous to say the very least. However, this didn’t deter the winners, as they ran down the clock well when in possession, and managed to keep the Dunshaughlin forwards at bay at the back. There was time for one last score when Brian Sheridan found himself with time and space to fire over, which was met with a huge cheer from the Seneschalstown dugout and the crowd on the bank. From the kick out the full-time whistle blew as Seneschalstown secured their status for yet another year since winning the Intermediate Championship in 1967.

This was a win based on grit and sheer will, Seneschalstown overcoming numerous setbacks on the night with players making big plays at crucial stages such as Gordon’s two saves and Finnegan’s haul of 1-05 just an example of the character Seneschalstown showed to eke out a first, but all important championship win of 2021 to avoid any further involvement in this year’s relegation play-offs.

After the game, there was wonderful acknowledgment for two of the club greats David Lyons and Bryan Clarke who announced their retirements from football, both man have been great servants to the club over the course of many years, and who were instrumental on our Keegan Cup winning teams of 2007 and 2009.

Seneschalstown scorers: Cathal Finnegan 1-05 (3fs) Brian Sheridan 0-04 (3fs), Woodley Nicholson & Cathal Hickey 0-01 each

Seneschalstown: David Lyons, Woodley Nicholson, John Smith, Simon Rooney, Ronan Conneely, Brian Maguire, Adam Carey, Cormac Noonan, Niall Hickey, Alan Mulvany, Cathal Finnegan, Ryan O’Dowd, Niall McCabe, Brian Sheridan, Dylan Keating.

Subs Used: David Gordon, Sean Commons, Cathal Hickey, Seán Carey, Bryan Clarke

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