Stafford Seals Sensational Comeback Success

Meath LGFA Kepak Senior Championship Group 2 Round 1

Seneschalstown 2-13 Navan O’Mahony’s 2-12

When Navan O’Mahony’s moved eight points clear in the 26th minute of Saturday evening’s opening round Kepak Senior Championship Group 2 clash, they looked set to kick on and avenge their 2022 Championship defeat to their hosts at the quarter-final stage with a comfortable victory.   What transpired for the remaining 34 minutes of normal time and six minutes of injury-time was nothing short of astonishing as Seneschalstown dug deep to claim an incredible victory with the very last kick of the ball.

That substantial comeback didn’t look necessary only four minutes in, after Seneschalstown immediately seized the initiative.   There was a minute gone on the clock when Kellie Stafford found her range with a point from the 21, and in the fourth minute Seneschalstown had their first goal when Sorcha Gough latched onto a through ball in a big hole in the O’Mahony’s defence, rounded the goalkeeper and duly dispatched the ball to the empty net.   David Hosie could not have asked for a better start in his first competitive game in charge.

The visitors got themselves on the scoreboard in the seventh minute before Gough had a point to add to her goal when she finished off a good move involving Seánaidh Hickey and Tara Traynor.  O’Mahony’s were starting to cause trouble up front and registered two points in a row as their forward line began to click, but as the quarter hour ticked by Seneschalstown’s lead of a goal remained intact when Anna Wogan blasted over, the Seneschalstown number 14 unlucky not to see the ball end up in the net.

However, O’Mahony’s completely took over for the second quarter and turned the three point deficit into what looked like an unassailable lead, Seneschalstown’s cause not helped by the concession of two goals in as many minutes.   The difference between the sides was eight points right up until the last play of the half when Stacey Grimes tapped over a 14 metre free to leave the game at double scores at the interval, 2-08 to 1-04.

Seneschalstown needed a big start to the second half but to Navan O’Mahony’s credit they never let Seneschalstown build up a head of steam in the third quarter as the game went score for score.   Sorcha Gough was once again to the fore at the start of the half when she added Seneschalstown’s first two points, the first being a neat score from a tight angle.   The Hoops responded in kind, before Kellie Stafford rounded out the scoring for the third quarter when she punted over.   As the game entered the final 15 minutes of normal time, Seneschalstown were about to be thrown a lifeline.

Seneschalstown were beginning to cause problems when running at the O’Mahony’s defence and when Stacey Grimes took off in typical fashion through the middle and laid off to Amy Gilsenan to her left, there was a big goal chance on.   Gilsenan spotted a gap between a defender and the goalkeeper and managed to find the back of the net with an emphatic finish and all of a sudden Seneschalstown maybe just had a glimmer of hope!

However, it looked like O’Mahony’s stymied any chance of a comeback when they struck for the next two scores which put five between the sides with seven minutes of normal time remaining. That would be the last time O’Mahony’s would trouble the scoreboard operator as Seneschalstown put the foot down.

Grimes knocked over a point from play with six minutes to go and Róisín Commons marked her return to competitive football after a long injury lay-off with a point two minutes later, leaving a goal between the sides.   Normal time was yet to elapse when Kellie Stafford was the player in the right position to score after Seneschalstown were patient with their build up play.

As there were a couple of lengthy stoppages, Seneschalstown knew they would have a decent chunk of injury time to work with and as the clock ticked beyond the first of those Grimes curled over her second from play to leave the bare minimum between them.   Seneschalstown pushed for an equaliser but were nearly caught on the counter attack, Navan O’Mahony’s conjured up a goal chance for themselves in the 63rd minute which saw Louise Coyle go full stretch to her left to produce a stunning save to and keep Seneschalstown alive.

The hosts continued to probe and when a loose ball was touched on the ground by an O’Mahony’s defender, Grimes was on hand to slot the close range free to level the game.   Seneschalstown had all the momentum and from a position of turmoil in the first half, the game was there for the taking in the very last play.

A combination of Seneschalstown players forced a turnover in front of the clubhouse along halfway and Seneschalstown had one last chance.   Again after working the ball from left to right Kellie Stafford, who was terribly unlucky to see an effort strike the post moments before, took aim to the right of the posts from a good distance out.   The roar of the Seneschalstown crowd told the umpires all they needed to know as the ball sailed between the sticks as Seneschalstown went ahead for the first time since early on.   There was barely time for the kickout as the full-time whistle was blown and rather incredibly Seneschalstown secured their first two points of the 2023 Championship in the most dramatic of finishes.

In Round 2, Seneschalstown make the trip to Millbrook to meet fellow Round 1 winners Oldcastle in a repeat of the 2021 semi-final.

Seneschalstown: Louise Coyle, Meadhbh Hickey, Natasha Mullen, Leanne Clarke, Leah Ryan, Tiana Kyle, Caragh Monaghan, Seánaidh Hickey, Kiah Geraghty, Amy Gilsenan (1-00), Sorcha Gough (1-03), Tara Traynor, Stacey Grimes (0-04, 2fs), Anna Wogan (0-01), Kellie Stafford (0-04).

Subs Used: Róisín Commons (0-01)

By shanemulvany Sun 20th Aug